Tales of the Merged Universe
A little corner for putting in my fiction set in the Merged Universe. Comments would be welcome.
Therapy, part 1
It takes me more than ten minutes just to find a parking spot and that fact alone makes me chuckle grimly.
Our world has become so much more wondrous...but no matter how many superheroes now fly through the skies, the minor annoyances of life remain.
Getting out, I look around. The place looks normal. White walls, four stories high, only a plaque reading, „ Counseling Center for the Affected“ showing any signs that this is anything but an office building.
Still, that plaque was apparently enough to attract the haters. Graffitis spoil the pristine white.
GO HOME XD FILTH!
DIE MONSTERS DIE!
I shake my head. I'm a native...but these morons would no doubt see me as their problem, too.
Inside, the building has all the charm of a hospital, looking way too new, too white and too clean. This has been hastily thrown together and it shows. Still, for people like me, it's better than nothing, I guess.
The receptionist, a young normal-looking man, asks for my name and then directs me to one of the doors to the left. „ They're already in. Not sure if they started yet.“
He seems ordinary. So do I. I can see the thinly veiled curiosity behind his gaze, only professional courtesy keeping him from bluntly asking. I smile. Best to start things off as friendly as possible.
„ Powers. I got powers about two months ago“, I say, smiling. „ Ah“, he says, although it's obvious that this makes him wonder even more – probably why I am not wearing thighs and fighting crime.
But on that, I'll let him stew. I'll have to answer these questions soon enough anyway.
Instead, I make my way to the indicated door.
Before I even reach it, the smell reaches me. Faintly like the sea, with an undercurrent of fish...not wholly unpleasant but hard to ignore. I take a deep breath, reminding myself that I am not the worst affected.
Opening the door, I see the comfortable chairs arrayed in a circle, almost laughably chliched. The rest of the room is almost bare, with one or two plants looking forlorn in the corners.
There are five people sitting there, three women and two men...as far as I can see.
I immediately recognize the source of the smell...a young woman, tall, wearing a long-sleeved hoodie, way too warm for the season.
The scent is wafting off of her in rhythm with her breathing. Her eyes are overtly large and seem to bulge a little, with her hair having already fallen out in spots, letting me see the silvery, scaly skin of her scalp.
I used to be into horror stories when I was younger and I did read my Lovecraft. This is the Innsmouth-look in all its unfortunate glory.
And already my own issues seem so much less severe. Maybe I should just turn around and leave...but just as I am thinking this, I hear a voice coming from an inexplicably darker spot in the circle.
„ Hey! Come, sit...misery loves company...“
Another woman, maybe in her mid-to-late 30s. Her skin is jet-black, her hair pure white, her ears slightly pointed. I am tempted to think ' Dark Elf', but the shadows move around her, deepening in a way that is profoundly uncomfortable to look at.
Not to mention that hissing, almost gleeful echo of another, inhuman voice I heard when she spoke.
I suppress a shudder and step closer, suddenly very aware of their eyes on me. I really, really do not like the spotlight. Reason 1 I did not feel the desire to be a hero. Reason 2 would have to have something to do with the fact that skintight costumes look horrible when you're overweight.
As I make my way to the empty chair, the third woman gives me a gruff nod. Taller than any of the rest, her skin looks rough, the colour somewhere between a light green and grey. Two mismatched tusks jut out from her mouth, giving her a feral appearance...only accentuated by the fact that she is incredibly muscled.
An orc. But, given where we are, she probably didn't start out as one.
One of the other men looks ordinary, slender, fit, no older than 25. His hair is close-cropped to his skull, indicating a recent military past. There are large circles under his eyes, together with an aura of exhaustion.
And, finally, there is an older gentleman, maybe 40 or so. Beardless, with longer grey hair and an open, friendly face, he nods and smiles.
„ Mr...Zilmer, right?“ he asks and I nod. „ Yes, that's me...but you can call me Will.“
Short for Wilhelm, but I won't force my parents' love for the German language onto my fellow affected.
„ Glad you could make it“, he says. „ I'm Dr. Malcolm. Happy to have you. Please, everyone...would you be kind and introduce yourselves?“
„ Sure“, the soldier-type says. „ Andrew Pine. MGS with all the fun it entails.“
„ Jenny. Jenny Preston. MGS and I'm turning into a monster“, says the girl with the Innsmouth-look. Her voice sounds labored, as if human language was unfamiliar to her.
„ Been there“, the orc woman grumbles, a voice that sounds as if she's been eating gravel all day. „ Thea Wilson. I didn't get MGS. I just...what was the term....goblinised.“
I dimly recall having heard about it...it's some kind of sickness from a roleplaying game where people suddenly turned into orcs and trolls once the magic came back. And, of course, no one knows why its happening.
Somewhere, a sadistic god is probably laughing their ass off after having ruined some innocent's life.
„ And that leaves me“, the dark-skinned woman adds, the echo to her words making me shudder involuntarily, „ Audrey Schwartz. Yeah, I know, sounds like an effing joke. I got MGS, but with some sort of seriously screwed-up version of space elf...and there's something else inside, too, something that wants to kill you all and decorate this room with your entrails. No offense.“
I swallow. „ And what's your affliction?“ Audrey asks. Something else is watching me through the black orbs of her eyes.
„ I have...powers.“ I can almost grasp the silence with my hand. They are waiting for something else. Something that would justify me being here.
„ That's...it. I...have powers. And I never asked for them“, I add, wishing I could shrink into my chair. Any moment now, one of them is going to say it. Why am I taking away a spot someone else could sit in. Someone with real problems?
„ What is it that you can do, Will?“ Dr. Malcolm asks, eager to defuse the situation.
I sigh, grateful for the opportunity. „ I can create....gravitational singularities. I make short-lived black holes.“
„ Sounds powerful“, Andrew muses. I nod. „ It is. It's also absolutely not constructive. I can't do anything useful but break stuff.“
„ What's your PL?“ Jenny asks. Good. They seem fascinated enough by someone with real superpowers that they are not kicking me out...yet.
„ I...never had...anyone look into them“, I admit. „ I think it's...Power Level 12 or so...but I don't know if they factor in physical attributes, too. I'm anything but fit.“ That much is obvious. Too much sitting around, too much junk food. The bane of office-dwelling America.
„ So...what brings you here, then?“ Jenny continues. Ah, there is that one question. Her eyes stare at me, unblinking. Are those gills on her neck? „ Most people who get powers register themselves and try out for the big hero teams or become villains...“
Is it just me or do these terms still sound ridiculous even after more than 2 years of living with the Merge? „ I don't like breaking things, alright? And that's all these powers can do. I'm an accountant and I love my job. I love numbers. I love math.“ I pause, trying to calm myself.
„ What I don't love is waking up from a nightmare, wrecking my apartment and scaring away my wife.“
„ So you can't control it?“ Audrey asks...and her echo cackles with glee. I shrug. „ I can. Most of the time. It's the 'most' that worries me.“
Thea guffaws. „ Welcome to the club. Not only do I get the makeover from Hell, but a bad temper and muscles like a friggin' gorilla to go along with it. Last month some idiot runs into me with his bike. I broke his jaw before I could even think about it. Landed me here.“
I cannot help but look at her hands. Yes...those are fists I would definitely not want to be flying at me.
„ They caught me sleepwalking, singing praises to Great Cthul....“ Jenny begins, then stops herself as ten pairs of eyes glare at her. „ Sorry...you know who I mean.“
So, two at least are here not of their own free will. Probably some last ditch effort to keep them from being incarcerated for being a menace to their surroundings...
Last edited by Neo-Paladin; 12-22-2018 at 03:14 PM.
Re: Tales of the Merged Universe
Therapy - Interlude
She landed gracefully and to the side of the building outside of the view of the street and anyone approaching. Her hearing picked up car engines and other signs of normal living in the vicinity. A slightly accelerated heartbeat near the front entrance to the building told her she wasn't alone. Catching sight of her reflection caused the young blonde woman to pause, and in a blur of motion she had changed into more mundane clothing in less time than it took to explain it.
Clutching the business card tightly in her hand, she couldn't help but focus on the goings on inside. Her hand poised at the handle to the building, hesitating as she wrestled with whether or not to enter. As she heard the stories of those suffering from MGS and the results of gobinization, she realized that her own problems were far less dramatic. She still identified as human. She still had her life. Using her powers had been her own decision, no one had forced her to do it.
Eleven, she mused to herself as the young man with the gravitational powers described his PL. I'm an eleven. Not the most powerful, but a little higher than the median benchmark and capable of pushing to fifteen for short bursts.
No. Things could be much worse for the pretty blonde woman.
She withdrew her hand from the handle and backed away from the door. Her eyes falling on the graffiti on the wall. A slight bluish glow from her eyes, and the ink burned away, precise enough to not leave a scorch mark and taking just enough of the surrounding paint to leave a splotch instead of ghostly after images of the hateful and hurtful comments.
She smiled ironically, before glancing around to make sure no one was watching. Both fists punched downwards and she was airborne again, civilian clothes off and stuffed back into the pouch of the red cape flowing from her shoulders.
Wind rustled her hair, the cape flapped behind her. The familiar blue and red of her outfit reassuring to so many in this new world, and a source of fear and scorn to others.
Last edited by Bladewind; 12-28-2018 at 04:42 PM.
Re: Tales of the Merged Universe
Therapy - Part 2
I know there are places already where they put those affected, Native and X-D alike who cannot be trusted with remaining in society. There have been numerous reports and affirmations that everything is on the up and up with these places, but it still feels awfully like locking innocents up and throwing away the key.
And those affected by the Great Old Ones or other Existential Threats are usually thrown in first. Jenny is damn lucky.
Dr. Malcolm leans back, apparently content to let us share freely for the moment. The group's relatively new, as far as I know, with one one or two sessions under their belts, so to speak.
I have to ask..., Andrew says, and don't take this the wrong way...can't you just...get a suppression collar or chip for your powers?
I shake my head. I have waited for this question. Not as easy as they make it sound in the media. I asked about it, but they can't just snap a collar on you and neuter your power. Powers can have so many origins that they need to run barrages of tests on you first. And those tests....
He nods. Not covered by health insurance?
My turn to nod. And I don't feel like blowing through our savings...or committing a crime to get tested and outfitted in jail. Not if there's any other option.
Malcolm nods. Which is why we are all here. Explore new options. Work with what we have been given. Not to be 'normal'. Not to 'function' or 'work' in society. But to find a place in life that works for you, that lets you continue your life with dignity.
And without becoming a Pawn or summon eldritch horrors..., Jenny mutters, looking at her webbed hands.
Malcolm just smiles. That goes without saying, I hope. He winks a bit. Yeah...sure, Jenny responds.
I lean back and listen, now that the focus of the group has shifted back to the others and their issues.
Andrew, as far as I can tell without prying, has had his mind merged with some kind of demon-worshipping warrior from a world called Toril. So, Audrey's not the only one with a voice in her mind that wants to kill us all gruesomely.
As I listen to them, I actually begin to feel more at ease. In the end, all of them are afraid of what their changes have thrown off balance in their lives. All of them are afraid they might accidentially hurt someone. I almost feel bad for being relieved that I am not as alone as I thought, even though I do not look different than before.
Of course, there are no great insights for me to gain...not yet, not after this first session. The rational part of me knows this. Still, I have to swallow down a slight surge of diappointment when Malcolm tells us that today's session is over. Time really flew.
He hands two prescriptions out to Jenny and Thea, asks Audrey if she still has enough pills and then announces that he'll be looking forward to seeing all of us again next week. We file out of the room and I wait until I am out of earshot of him before I say, to no one in particular, Hm...expected something more...concrete.
Andrew shakes his head. Don't worry, man. First session and all. He wants you to feel at home among the misfits, know that you belong somewhere, at least. Build familiarity. Also, he'll probably consult other experts in the field to determine if you need medication to help you along.
Yeah...anything rash...not his idea of therapy, Thea rumbles next to us. Now that she's standing, her massive frame is even more intimidating.
I could do with some more rashness, though, Jenny says quietly. I'm on the clock...
She has opened her purse and is spraying her neck with water from a little bottle before putting the hood up. I look away. At least the rest of us are done with our changes...she is still in the process of becoming something inhuman.
Haven't they made any breakthroughs in halting these...changes? I ask.
Not one bit. Some say it's mystical, some say it's genetic, some say it's both and some say it's just another fucking joke from the gods. But none of that is helping. And it's not even the look. She lets out a shuddering sigh. I can live with looking like a thing. Most of the time. But I don't want to become a thing in here... She taps her forehead.
What can I say about that? Not much and nothing that would help. So, I decide to fall silent like the others. Together, we get out. Alright, then...see you next week?
The others nod. Glad the big bad monsters didn't scare you, Thea mutters, showing a lopsided, tusked grin I look past her, now noticing that someone has removed the graffiti.
Right before I notice the four pale, snarling figures crawling around the corner.
Re: Tales of the Merged Universe
A Taste of Home:
Dining Hall, Castle Heterodyne...
As they finished their dinner, Lady Heterodyne asked "So you think this 'International Market' that's being proposed is a good idea, Griffin?"
Griffin said "I do, Aggie. A good amount of your newest citizens can't safely go back to their homeland - if it even made it over at all - due to the EU's so-called 'anti-vigilante' laws, which should properly be called their 'monopoly-of-force' laws. Just ask the Guard if you don't believe me! The Market plans to sell imported food, drink, books, magazines and newspapers from all over the world. And they're even working out deals to import and install satellite dishes and decoders. It'll certainly help deal with the homesickness some of them have been feeling lately. And the less homesick people are, then the less likely they are to cause unnecessary violence."
Vanamonde Von Mekkhan, the Castle's Seneschal, asked "Why would they sell those dishes here?"
Griffin said "That I can talk about from personal experience and observation. You see, satellite dishes are simply one of the most practical methods available on this Earth for an expatriate to watch television programmes from their homeland and in their native language. I've seen more than a few places back in London where I can find several different dishes pointed at completely different satellites on the same street."
Vanamonde asked "Why are they offering professional installation?"
Griffin replied "You need to place the dish outdoors and point it at whichever satellite has the channels you want to watch. This requires working out where the satellite you want is actually located and then finding out how far up and how far west or east they have to point the dish. Which is difficult when you're on the ground and trying to aim it at something in orbit! Then you need to drill a hole in the exterior wall for the cable to connect the dish and the decoder. You can place the TV set and the decoder wherever you like, but it's usually practical for someone using it at home to keep them both as close to each other as possible."
Then a deep voice said "They drill through the wall?!"
Griffin said "Yes, Castle, they do. Not every building is sapient like yourself! I think you're the only sapient building I know of for a fact!"
The Castle said "That is true!"
Griffin then went "And before you ask, the answer's no. Satellite signals can't go through glass, so drilling is indeed required to make the installation any good."
Lady Heterodyne asked "Meaning that if I wanted satellite television in the Castle..."
Griffin told her "You'll have to tell the Castle to not harm the team who are doing the drilling and to honestly aid them. They'll only need to drill once, twice at the most."
Lady Heterodyne went "Excellent. You can tell them in the morning that I approve of their proposal and that I want to arrange a satellite dish installation."
Griffin went "Of course."
The Castle sighed and said "I suppose you want me to not harm whoever is installing the dish."
Lady Heterodyne told the Castle "Correct, Castle. When they arrive, they are NOT TO BE HARMED IN ANY WAY."
The Castle acknowledged, saying "Oh very well. By your order, they shall not be harmed."
Griffin was somewhat relieved that the Castle wouldn't hurt the installers. After all, it just got the order to help them out from the one person it can't really say no to...