Lancelot
Issue 1

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    Gwendoline Vera Bradley stared down at the blueprints on her desk and sighed. This was not how she had wanted to spend her day. Oh sure, Architecture had been her major in college and it was something she was frighteningly good at but Gwen had another talent that took up most of her time. Gwen was a superhero.

    It had only been a few years since the first superhumans started showing up, crime had taken a violent upswing due to the new breed of super-powered criminals and despite what comic books might have you believe there was very little that the more benevolent superhumans could do to stop it. If the police were too slow to respond in time to superhuman crime then there was no way a disorganized and fickle group of vigilantes could keep up, that was until The Bureau of Superhuman Defense was established.

    Despite its official-sounding name, the BSD was a civilian organization, sort of an unofficial governing body for superpowered people hoping to make a difference and unsure where to start. Superheros would join the BSD and based on their powers, skills, and temperament they would be assigned a city to protect and patrol.

    Valliant City had six assigned heroes and they were all at the top of their game. They had to be if they wanted to protect one of the most advanced and Wealthy cities on the western coast. None of them had a statue of themselves built in the park just outside city limits… None of them except Lancelot.

    It was no wonder the city loved her. When she was first assigned to the Valiant city she had singlehandedly saved an entire building of people when a construction accident caused it to come within a hair's breadth of collapsing. She had resolved the issue in record time when a disgruntled wizard had turned the entire county’s postal workers into ferrets and, most impressively, had simultaneously attended the mayor's charity gala whilst helping a pregnant mother give birth across town.

    Yes, it seemed like Lancelot was always busy with something, of course, that meant that it was difficult for her to get any work done outside of super heroics. So when her communicator watch went off this morning and the Atomic Automaton offered to “let her get some rest” she gladly obliged. And so once again the mighty Lancelot became Gwen Bradley: architect and took the precious time off to get some much-needed work done.

 

    That had been her plan, but now that she sat at her desk with a blueprint unfurled in front of her she couldn’t help but wish she had taken the call. The life of a superhero was so much more glamorous than a desk job, and though she did need to get this done (lest her employers start asking questions about what could have possibly taken up so much of her time) she just couldn’t bring herself to care.

 

    It was at that moment that Gwen’s daydreaming was cut short by a sharp beep.She jumped to her feet and looked down at her communicator watch in alarm. She pressed the answer button and the Atomic Automaton's electronic voice came clearly through the tiny speaker.

 

    “Lance, it’s me.” he started. “You busy?”
 

    “Just getting some work done.” she lied trying hard not to sound too eager. “Did you need any help?”

 

    “Maybe” The other hero admitted. His embarrassment was apparent in his robotic voice. “It’s Augustus. He’s back in town.” Gwen smirked. Augustus Tribune was your typical mad scientist with an obsession with Ancient Rome. He’d tried to take over the city a few times before and he was probably smart enough to do it. Of course being smart didn’t mean a whole lot when you were fighting a woman that could run faster than the speed of thought.

“I’ll be right there.” She assured. “Just don’t engage him until I arrive.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it” the robot responded and the communicator clicked off. Gwen ran out the door of her office and into the stairwell. Work would have to wait...

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    It took Gwen 45 seconds to get from her office to the stairwell, once she was sure she was alone it took her less than a second to reach the Atomic Automaton’s coordinates. She traveled down the street taking sharp turns and avoiding pedestrians with such grace and skill that none of them even knew she was there. She slowed down just briefly and took a deep breath as she passed her favorite coffee shop breathing in the rich scent from the cup sitting on the table in front of a customer. For a moment the newspaper he was reading fluttered, but that movement was so subtle and so benign that he barely even registered it.


    She passed by cars in traffic as if they were standing still. She adjusted the mirror for a driver who was about to merge into an occupied lane and closed the gas cap on another vehicle as she ran past. As her drumming feet picked up speed a pink bolt surged from her watch and coated her body in violet light. As she ran her work clothes were replaced with a pink leotard. A visor covered her face emulating an old-fashioned knight’s helmet, not that she needed it. The wind had never bothered her at these speeds and the minor protection offered by the glass wasn’t all that useful when she was too fast to be hit.

    Lastly, she extended an arm behind her as a metal pole formed around her arm. There was nothing special about the lance. It was made of Titanium and was summoned by her watch just like the rest of her uniform, (One of the perks of being the top-ranked hero of the BSD) but moving at these speeds that hunk of metal had enough punch to take down anyone and anything.

 

    In that moment a man at a coffee shop noticed his newspaper flutter just slightly and it almost occurred to him that there was no wind. A man in his car noticed that the lane he was merging into was occupied and slammed on his brakes just in time. A man a few car lengths ahead of him observed the display behind him and laughed despite the fact that moments ago his gas cap had been off and had it not been replaced at that moment he’d have spent the next few days driving around with his check engine light on. And coincidentally at that very moment, Lancelot came to a stop just outside the city limits where The Atomic Automaton was being held up by one arm by a burly man dressed as a Roman legionnaire.

    “Lancelot!” he laughed as he turned to look at her. “Perfect timing.”

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  To say that the Atomic Automaton was being held up by his arm would be an exaggeration. He was being held by what was left of his arm. The rest of his arm was lying in the street a few meters away between Gwen and the supervillain.

    “Drop him!” Lancelot barked and raised her lance threateningly. Augustus complied and the robotic hero fell to the ground with a hollow clank.

    “Makes no difference to me. To be honest you were the one I really wanted.” She didn’t appear to move but suddenly the downed robotic superhero was nowhere to be seen. Likely moved to somewhere where he could be safe from the coming confrontation. The legionnaire thought to himself.

    “Turn yourself in” Lancelot demanded. She was angry. She wanted to attack him but Lancelot was a hero and heroes didn’t strike first.

“Or what? You’ll run me through? How noble.” he sneered. “I’ve got bombs hidden all over this city the moment you--” this time he did see her move. Just a flicker, like a movie in which two cuts of q film have been carelessly edited together. A pile of black disks sat at her feet. “Oh shi-” She didn’t let him finish. As far as she was concerned threatening to kill dozens of citizens counted as a first move.

She charged at him and raised her lance into the air...

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  Instead of the of the satisfying thump of her blow connecting Lancelot was met with an electronic twang followed by her lance bouncing off of some invisible barrier. The moment her weapon connected she could briefly see a hexagonal pattern shimmer in the air between them.

    “You like that?” Augustus mocked. “Just a little something to even the odds.” Lancelot sneered.

    “You’d be better off surrendering now.” She smirked. “I’ve fought force fields before. Eventually, you’ll have to come out for air.”  A smile stretched across Augustus’s face and Lancelot’s own faltered. Shit, he’d been waiting for her to say that.

    “Oh, this...” He said, tapping the dial on his chest “...is a field of my own invention. Anything can pass through… that is as long as it’s going under thirty miles per hour. Even playing field. You can’t hit me.” he raised the cannon on his arm and fired three shots at her. She strafed out of the way with no discernible effort. “And I can’t hit you.” The heroine brushed her bangs aside and looked at him, arms crossed.

 

    “So what now? Do we just stand here and talk?” He laughed at that.

 

    “No, nothing so boring. We fight, the way the gods intended. He removed his arm cannon and dropped it on the ground raising his fists into a fighting stance. Again she stared at him.
 

    “What is this?”

    “A fist fight. You versus me. No guns; no powers.” if he could see her face he would have likely been offended by her series of dubious blinks. “The alternative is you let me get away.” She sighed and dropped her lance on the ground behind her. Slowly she stepped forward. This time the force field didn’t make a sound and remained invisible. The large man smiled and then surprised her with a jab. She dodged at incredible speed and found herself pushed back to the edge of the force field. He clicked his tongue at her in a scolding manner.
    
    “Remember, Lance, stay under thirty.” She clenched her teeth and stepped forward again. He threw another punch and she again dodged with little effort taking care to stay under Augustus's speed limit. Despite being half his size and deprived of her main advantage she was hardly a lightweight. She’d been fighting for years and often against enemies far stronger than herself. Still, her punches weren’t doing the kind of damage she wanted against her armored opponent and every time she tried to get in a more solid hit her own speed would push her back out of the force field. The Centurion laughed again.

 

    “Well look at that. You really don’t have a lot going for you without that super speed.” She smiled back.

    “Tough talk coming from the guy who hasn’t landed a hit.”

 

    “In due time.” he sneered throwing another flurry of punches. Not one hit their mark. Still, this fight wasn’t going much better for Gwen either. If she wanted to end this she needed to do more damage. She steeled her gaze and made up her mind. She was going to let him hit her. She was tougher than she looked and leaving herself open gave her the time she needed to wind up for a more powerful attack.

 

    She leaned back on her back foot as he wound up a haymaker. His fist came at her sideways but rather than step aside she stepped forward angling her body sideways and put all of her weight into a firm kick which slammed against his chest knocking him backward.His fist connected with her thigh much more limply than she’d have expected for a man of his size and he was knocked off of his feet. He fell to the ground and let out a few coughs which turned into a wheezing laugh.

 

    “What’s so funny?” The hero asked pointing to the shattered dial on his chest. “Your little toy’s broken.”

    “I --” he was caught off by another bout of coughs. “I got you!” Her eyes rolled behind her visor.

    “Yeah yeah, I’m sure all of your friends in prison will be very impressed.” She strode over and lifted him to his feet by his shoulder.

    

    “You don’t get it.” he insisted and pointed down at her leg. She looked down and saw a small syringe sticking out of her thigh where he hit her.

    “Oh, shit.”

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    Lancelot ripped the syringe out of her leg at lightning speed. She was possibly the only person on earth who could move quickly enough to avoid whatever sinister concoction Augustus had brewed from being pumped into her veins. But she hadn’t noticed the needle until it had already spent precious moments in her thigh. When she held it to her face it didn’t take long to confirm what she had already been afraid of.

    Empty.


    Her face remained impassive but her eyebrows knitted together behind the privacy on her visor and she felt a bead of sweat run down her forehead. With her enhanced metabolism, Lancelot was immune to most poisons. If she had been the drinking type she’d have likely have to drink her own weight in alcohol before even feeling buzzed, but Augustus was no third sting villain. He’d have studied her stats, her feats and her figures. So what would be the point of the mystery drug? She only had one advantage. Villains loved to talk.

 

    “Were you planning on drugging me, Gus?” She prodded. “You do know that there’s not a poison known to man that can keep me down for more than a moment, and you don’t look like you’re in good enough shape to exploit that kind of window.” The Roman laughed again, he’d regained some of his breath but didn’t try to stand.

    “I’d thought of that of course. I figured I’d try something a bit more permanent.”

    

    “What are you--” Lancelot started but stopped and cocked her head. She could hear a faint noise. A quiet squealing sound like air being let out of a balloon. She looked down to see that the noise was coming from her own costume as it began to tighten across her chest.

 

    She had always had a circular window in her leotard directly above her cleavage. She’d been accused of vanity, but she liked her costume and was proud of her body. She wasn’t above using it to her advantage. Her costume showcased the body of a woman who worked hard. A woman who spent most of her time on her feet fighting to protect her city from any threat she might face. So despite whatever criticism she might receive she kept the cleavage and wore her costume proudly. Still, one hole in her costume was enough.

    As she stared in awe she noticed a second hole, smaller than the first beginning to open directly below the original. The rubbery material squeaked and whined as it was pulled tight against the yielding flesh of her modest breasts. Except those breasts didn’t appear nearly so modest anymore. When she had first noticed the hole in her costume and the tightness in her chest she had assumed that the villain had somehow done something to her costume. Now it was horribly apparent that her suit wasn’t shrinking. She was growing!

    “My tits!” she yelped “what did you do to my tits?”

    “A side effect.” he assured her. “Though hardly your most impressive feature. Look behind you.” She glared down at him, confused but looked over her shoulder in time to see a swelling heave of her own billowing flesh. “Definitely a bottom heavy girl.” He teased. She didn’t respond. She touched her new ass cautiously and yanked her hand back. She could feel it. This was all hers. Lancelot, Top hero for the BSD and the world’s most dedicated runner was now sporting hooker tits and the kind of ass that could stop traffic even if she weren’t a deputized officer of the law.

    She heard another low rip, louder than the first. She looked down hoping to God that her tits hadn’t grown even larger. A cursory glance seemed to assure her that that was not the case. While she was still growing the pace had slowed considerably and her costume seemed mostly intact. So where had the sound come from?

 

    A horrible thought struck her and she reached under her bust line to her stomach. Her fingers sunk into the doughy flesh of her new potbelly as it gave and squished beneath her fingers. She groaned and tossed the needle on the ground marching up to Augustus at a pace that was supposed to be intimidating, but likely came off as comical due to the bouncing and jiggling of her still expanding figure.

 

    “You'd better fix this.” She demanded as she lifted him yet again. She could see his eyes roll behind his visor.

 

    “You’ll be done in an hour or two.” he assured.

 

    “And I’ll go back to normal?” She asked, a bit more pleading in her voice than she’d hoped. He clicked his tongue at her.

 

    “Oh, doll. This is the new normal.” A grin crossed his face and was snuffed out by a swift punch to the mouth that left him out cold. She tapped the side of her mask initiating contact with BSD headquarters.


    “Go for BSD” A familiar voice rang out over her headset.

 

    “Nathan, I have a perp at this location in need of a pickup.”

    “No problem, Lance. Job well done.” She gritted her teeth. This was the hard part.

 

    “Not quite. I’m heading over. I need a full body scan and chemical analysis on one of Augustus’s gadgets.” She retrieved the syringe from the ground.There was a brief silence on the line, but Nathan was a professional.

 

    “No problem, do you need a ride in?” he already new the answer.

    “Negative. It’ll be faster if I went by myself.”She took off down the road heading away from her city at full speed. She was getting pretty big at this point and nearly lost her balance due to her new center of gravity. Apparently this was more than just an attack on her self image. She tried to slow herself to a more manageable pace but was surprised to find that more difficult than she’d expected. She winced at the constant jostling and wobbling of her new body as she tried to maintain her balance. She was so distracted that she looked up to see a cliff up ahead of her where the road curved to meet the mountain. Slowing wasn’t an option. She tried to turn only for her feet to come out from under her and send her tumbling sideways over the ledge. She crashed into the ground near mach speed and slid for several hundred meters.

 

    She got to her feet. And dusted herself off. God, there was so much more of her now, she noted. Best not the worry about that. Nathan and the other’s would get her fixed up. She tapped her earpiece again.

    “Nathan, I’m sending you new coordinates.” She sighed and steeled herself for the humiliation to come. “Looks like I’m going to need that ride after all.”

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  Gwen was not having a good day. The transport had arrived to pick her up after what felt like an eternity of waiting. She stood as the chopper descended and hefted herself inside. She noticed the pilot staring at her through the cockpit mirror. She shot him a sharp glare and he quickly turned away.

    The local chapter of the BSD was less of a secret base and more of an office building. It had thirty floors, six labs and a gym. There was an entire floor devoted to call centers where BSD members with the right insurance package could call in for assistance, just like Gwen had earlier. Their chopper landed and Gwen jumped out and tried to ignore how heavy her belly felt as she regained her balance. An Indian Man in a labcoat greeted her with outstretched arms.

 

    “Lancelot! My friend!” His accented voice was loud in an attempt to drown out the cacophony of the helicopter. “You’re looking… different.”  


+++
    

    Doctor Suresh's lab was on a basement level, but that was more for space reasons than any sort of hierarchy. He was the best. Lancelot found herself in the center of this lab surrounded by  a half dozen tiny camera drones which scanned every inch of her body. She’d been doing her best not to think about what had happened to her but it was a little difficult with these drones perusing every new curve and jiggling bulge of her form. The Doctor busied himself on the other end of the room with the syringe trying to make sense of whatever was left inside.

 

    She’d picked up a T-shirt and a pair of shorts from the gym downstairs. They fit terribly. Not a lot of 2XL for superheros. Still, it was better than wearing the shreds of her old costume and showing off a canyon of cleavage. At least this way her tits and ass were… mostly covered.

 

    “So…” she started. She was doing her best to ignore one drone which had taken particular interest in her ass. “Do you deal with this sort of thing often?”

 

    “Hmmm?” He looked up from his work. “Oh, all the time. I once had a gentleman come in who had been turned into a giant turtle.”

 

    “Did you fix him?” She asked.

 

    “Oh yes. It was a simple case of genetic resequencing.” She let out a sigh she hadn’t been aware she was holding. She felt silly for being so worried. Supervillains were always creating hairbrained schemes and doctor’s like Suresh were the ones to fix it. He was a super himself, although you wouldn’t know it to look at him. Superhuman intelligence. Not everyone with powers wanted to go out on missions and hunt bad guys. Men like the Doctor here prefered working from behind the scenes, and lord knows every hero had been saved at least once by them.

    “So how long should it take to fix me?” She asked a bit concerned again. He frowned and thought for a moment.

 

    “Six months? A year? Depends on your diet and level of activity.” He went back to work.

 

    “I’m serious!” she insisted.

 

    “So am I. I’m sorry there’s no quick fix for this.” She was starting to get flustered.

    “But you said--” she realized she was shouting. She stopped herself and took a deep breath. “I thought it was a simple matter of genetic resequencing.” He offered a sad smile and shook his head.

 

    “There’s nothing ‘genetic’ about this, I’m afraid.”The sympathy in his voice seemed genuine. “High calorie intake” He held up the syringe. “Super concentrated. You’re lucky you’re not the size of a house.” This was too much. Ever since she’d gotten bigger she’d had a nagging voice at the back of her mind.

 

    “That’s it.” it would say. “No more running. No more hero stuff. Good thing you have architecture to fall back on.” She shook her head.


    “Well what am I supposed to do then? I can’t be seen like this. If Lancelot gets fat overnight you can be sure that the girls back at the office will notice when Gwen comes back to work packing an extra hundred pounds. By tomorrow my secret identity is going to be all over the evening news.

    “Hmmm. We might have a way to help you with that.” Suresh said  thoughtfully.

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     “A coffee shop?” Gwen asked to no one in particular. She had followed the directions on her phone and this was the address. Still she’d expected something… more. She entered through the double doors. A soft chime signaled her presence, not that she could avoid being noticed. The shop was mostly empty aside from the barista and an old man in the corner reading a newspaper.She cautiously approached the counter and rang a tiny bell to get the barista’s attention. He looked up from the pitcher he was cleaning and attended to her.

 

    “Can I help you?” He asked in a tone that was less than hospitable.

“I think so. Sorry in advance if I’m in the wrong place. I’m Gwen. I’m supposed to meet someone named ‘Supervolt’.” He squinted at her as she explained all this but his eyebrows raised at the name Supervolt.

 

    “Hey Mark.” He yelled into the kitchen behind him. “There’s a girl here for you.” He turned back to her. “He should be right out.” his eyes drifted down across her frame as he went back to washing. She felt her face flush hot and she pulled down on her sweater. Gwen was no stranger to elevator eyes. Furtive glances on the street or in the office were expected when you had a body like hers… how hers used to be. She had run the gambit from pride to revulsion in the past when catching a man’s not so subtle glances. This time she felt something different. Shame maybe?

    She pressed in her shoulders and lowered her head in an attempt to appear as small as possible, but if there was one thing she didn’t feel it was small. She steeled herself. All the more reason to get back into shape as quickly as possible.

    A tall man in a green smock came out of the kitchen and looked her over. Not a leer like the one she saw from the barista. This was more of an attempt to size her up. Mark, as the barista had called him, was over six feet tall with piercing blue eyes. A scar stretched up his right cheek and over his eye. It branched out in lightning pathways into his hairline. The stark white gash broke up the dark hair which had been styled into a short military style cut. He smiled and extended a hand.

 

    “Hi.” He said in a gruff but friendly voice. “I’m Mark. You must be Gwen.”

 

    +++

 

    Mark took her into a fluorescent lit break room and sat her down at a card table.

 

    “Do you take any cream or sugar?” He asked as he handed her a hot cup of coffee.

    “No, thank you though.” She wasn’t totally sure why she had lied. She took her coffee with an awful lot of sugar. Those were her vices: caffeine and sweets. “Black is fine.” he nodded approvingly before pouring a liberal amount of milk into his own cup. He sat down across from her and took out a paper folder.

 

    “Let’s see.” he licked his thumb as he leafed through it. A small spark jumped from his tongue to his thumb so quickly she might have missed if if she weren’t so accustomed to viewing hyper-brief events. “Valiant city, right? You’re a long way from home.” She nodded and he continued. “The reason for the transfer is…” he looked up at her; her eyes, not her body. “Let’s call it physical therapy.” He closed the folder. “So, correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems fairly straightforward to me. You had a bad run in with a supervillain, You weren’t prepared to go back to hero-ing and and you’re here to try to get back into shape, does that sound about right?”

 

    “That’s right.” She nodded again. “So what do you need from me? Do I work here?” he frowned and shrugged.

 

    “More or less. You’re here to get your groove back, right? You do what’s best for you and if that means you need time to adjust that’s fine. You’ll get paid either way. This job’s more of a cover than an actual job.” He made air quotes around the word ‘job’. “But, if you do want to come in we could use the help and some people prefer the structure of having a work schedule while their in recovery.” Her eyebrows raised.

 

    “So I’m not the first person to come here? Is Reynoldsville like some kind of superhero rehab?”

 

    “‘Nol’sville’” he corrected her pronunciation. “And not exactly. We’ve got a high crime rate but low supervillain activity. We’re a large enough city to keep you busy but small enough not to draw attention. It’s been awhile since we had official hero assigned here so it’s convenient to temporarily assign heros in our ‘identity protection program’ to keep an eye on things.” It seemed like a pretty good system to Gwen. The sad fact was that the poorest cities needed heros the least. High crime was usually linked to poverty and poverty didn’t attract supervillains. Most hero’s didn’t bother with petty crimes and so more often than not little towns like ‘Nol’sville would get overlooked.

    “And what about you?” She asked. “What’s your story?”

    “Me?” He smiled. “I just own a coffee shop. Here.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a keycard. “There’s a hotel about half a mile up the road. You’ve got a room reserved for as long as you need it. They took the liberty of restocking your wardrobe.” He offered a sympathetic smile. “Figured you might need some new threads.” She took the card from him.

    “Understood.” She was curt, but not unfriendly. This had been a stressful day. She just hopes that that stress didn't translate to rudeness. Right now she wanted nothing more than to get to her hotel and go to sleep. “Anything else?” she asked.

 

    “Actually yes.” He said with a tight smile. “Check the safe in the closet when you get there. There’s a present in it for you.”

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    Gwen managed to find her way to the hotel and headed inside. Despite her increased size the walk itself didn’t feel any more difficult, just a lot more bouncy. It seemed that every step sent new motion through her ass and belly causing the sweater she was wearing to try desperately to ride up over her navel. She’d tug it back down trying to ignore the summer heat and her mild temptation just to let the heavy wool garment expose her belly to the relatively cool air. She focused on putting one foot in front of the other and ignoring the voice in her head telling her to just run there.

 

    Her powers, thank god, seemed mostly unaffected by her transformation. As far as she could tell she could reach similar speeds as before with almost no discernable effect on her acceleration. The problem arose when trying to slow down. Anything over 300 miles per hour created so much inertia that she found herself unable to stop let alone change direction. No, for right now she effectively been reduced to the speed of a very fast car and while that was still certainly very fast it was nowhere even moderately close to the speeds she used to reach on a regular basis. It certainly wasn’t fast enough to travel unnoticed. For the time being it seemed that she’d be reduced to mortal speeds… at least until she could find a costume that fit.

 

    She checked into the hotel and made her way to the counter. The clerk politely let her know that her room would be on the first floor as that had apparently been requested for her. She rolled her eyes. She was fat, not enfeebled. If anything she’d prefer a room on the  top floor. She intended to get back into shape as quickly as possible and that was going to be hard enough as it was without these sorts of favors.

 

    She found her room without incident and stepped inside. The room was nice. A single king bed, fairly large bathroom with a walk in shower and a full sized closet to fill with her nonexistent wardrobe. She dropped her duffle bag and flopped onto the bed and placed a hand on her belly to stop it jiggling.

 

    She understood why she had to be here, but at the moment the only thing she wanted was to go back to protecting her city. Being forced to do hero work in some other city under some other name felt far more humiliating than any amount of fat that could be added to her frame. She remembered what Mark had told her and sat up, stretched and then made her way over to the closet.

 

    She knelt down, opened the safe and pulled out a brown paper bag. She took it into the bathroom and dumped the contents onto the counter. There was a green shirt, a pair of stretch pants and a black domino mask. She groaned. Domino masks were the worst. Most costumes only marginally protected a hero's identity but nothing said “cheap costume” like a mask that left 90% of your face uncovered. She shrugged and held the items up to the mirror dreading actually having to put them on.

 

    Green was not her color. Not to mention that the costume was about as plain as possible. Not even a symbol or an identifiable marking. It seemed like the BSD wasn’t planning on her having to use it for too long, which was fine by her. Just as she had worked up the courage to try the damn thing on her cell phone rang.

    She pulled it from her pocket having to reach around her belly, reminding her that even the most basic aspects of her life had been made more complicated by that Roman bastard. The end of her upper lip twinged in frustration which she suppressed as she answered her phone.

 

    “Go for Gwen.” she said brightly.

 

    “Hey Gwen. It’s me.” Normally such a nonspecific response would have annoyed her but the electronic voice on the other end meant it could only be one person.

 

    “Atomic Automaton? Since when do you use call me on my civilian phone?”

 

    “Since you stopped answering your watch.” She slapped her forehead.

 

    “Oh right. Sorry, Atom. I’m in the Identity Protection program.”

 

    “I heard. That’s part of why I’m calling. It’s Augustus, he’s no longer in custody.” Her eyes widened.

 

    “What?” She pounded her fist on the bathroom counter. “When I left he was under maximum security.”

 

    “That’s the thing. Apparently the version we’ve been guarding for the past week was a hologram. We’re not actually sure when he escaped.” Gwen’s eyebrows knitted together and she placed her fingers on the bridge of her nose as her surprise turned to fury. He’d ruined her figure and condemned her to spending the next six months in this dead end town in the middle of nowhere and he couldn’t at least have the decency to stay in prison.

 

    Her initial response was to go after him, track him down and force him to pay for every extra pound he had put on her but when the robot said next caught her off guard.

    “There’s more, but I’d like to tell you in person. Any chance you could swing by?” Gwen was suddenly concerned.
 

    “Um… sure. I’m not busy. I can be there first thing tomorrow morning. Is everything okay?”

 

    “Hmmm… Not really. Like I said, I’d rather tell you in person. Tomorrow works great though. Text me when you arrive and we’ll meet up.”

 

    “Right.” she nodded knowing that he couldn’t see her on the other end.

 

    “Bye Atom…”

 

    “Bye Lance…” There was a pause as if he was about to say more but a few seconds later the line clicked dead. She lied down on the bed and thought for a moment. She guessed she’d have to tell Mark she wouldn’t be in tomorrow.

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  The Automaton had asked Gwen to “swing by” and she wasn’t planning to disappoint. The problem was that “swinging by” wasn’t as easy as it used to be. At her top speed she was able to make it to just about anywhere in the US in a matter of minutes. At the moment she’d be lucky to make the trip in under two hours. As she ran along the highway she was able to make it almost to 300 miles per hour due to the long straight stretches with only gentle curves at best. Still, she didn’t dare go any faster just in case she had to come to a sudden stop.

 

    She was wearing her new suit and had quickly discovered another design problem. The stretchy fabric covered her gut well enough but as she ran the separate shirt and pants sections allowed her top to ride up over her belly. Every few miles she’d be forced to pull her shirt down again before devoting her full attention to running.

 

    In an attempt to give a bit of style to her new suit she had tied a torn piece of her original costume around her forearm. Not only did it break up the awful green but it also stood as a reminder of what she was working to get back. She arrived in Valliant city a few hours later. And changed back into her street clothes in a public restroom.

 

    It had been a long run but not a hard one. She hadn’t been running at near her top speed and this had hardly been a long distance for her. The resteraunt that the other hero had invited her to was pretty near to the building she used to work in. She pulled up the hood on her hoodie just in case any of her coworkers were near by. Not that they’d recognize her. If one of them were to see her they’d likely assume she was some nondescript fat girl. Inside the robotic hero was waiting for her in a booth wearing a trenchcoat and wide brimmed fedora. She sat down across from him and smiled.

    “Lance!” he exclaimed. “You’re looking…” His green eyes scanned her. “Healthy. How are you doing?” She shrugged.

    

    “I’ve been better.” a waitress approached and she ordered a salad. “What about you? Why was it so important I come out here?” the robot sat for a moment. His expression was unreadable but Gwen could sense his discomfort.

 

    “It’s about Augustus. I think he tampered with my memory.”

 

    “What!” She yelped. The waitress jumped at the sudden exclamation as she set down the salad and Gwen apologized profusely. “How do you know?” She took a bite of her salad and grimaced. This was disgusting, but her usual order of pancakes and six scrambled eggs wasn’t going to do her any favors.

 

    “It’s simple really. I can’t remember him. I’ve fought Augustus three times. Once on my own, the big battle where we took him down with Krystal and and the Commodore, and the fight last week, but I don’t have a memory of interacting with him in any of those fights. It’s as if he never existed for me.”

 

    “That’s... Why?” He shrugged.

    “I don’t know. I assume he has some plan but I have no idea what it could be. I’m planning on meeting with Brainchild to see if she could help figure it out.” Gwen nodded. Brainchild was a telepath and one of Valiant city's five remaining heroes (along with Krystal, the Atomic Automaton, the Commodore and Captain Kazap). She was also fairly new to the city and, as far as Gwen knew had never met Augustus before. Gwen’s eyes filled with understanding.

 

    “And since you don’t remember any important information you were hoping I could help provide some info.” he nodded. “Well I’m in.” She pushed the salad aside. “Have you called her yet?” He shook his head this time. There was a mechanical whir as his joints moved.

 

    “You’re something of an idol to her. I think she’d be more likely to say yes if you asked.” Gwen nodded, pulled out her phone and scrolled through the contacts. She held the phone to her ear. It only took two rings for brainchild to pick up.

“Hello?” a cautious voice asked from the other end.

 

    “Hey! It’s Lancelot. I was in town and I needed help with something. Mind if we meet?”

 

    “No! I mean… yes. Sorry. Now’s not a good time. Is tomorrow okay?”

 

    “Um… sure. Should I just stop by your place?”

    “That’s fine! I’ve got to go. Bye!” She hung up her phone without another word. Gwen shrugged.
 

    “She’s a bit odd. We’ve got a date though. We’re supposed to meet her tomorrow.” she asked for a box for her salad. And got up. “Anything else from me, Atom?”

 

    “Not at all. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” Gwen smiled and stepped out of the restaurant. She tossed her salad into a nearby trashcan as she strode down the street. She might not be doing hero work here anymore but at least she’d be getting revenge on Augustus. She was going to make sure he’d see justice for what he’d done to her, and after that she’d focus on getting back into shape. Things were looking up.

 

 

+++


    Brainchild hung up the phone.

 

 

    “Who was that” A shadowy figure in her living room demanded.

 

    “Just a friend. I got rid of them.” the super brilliant detective responded. She met the figure’s gaze with a mix of disdain and determination.

 

    “So have you considered our offer.” The hero shook her head.

 

    “I’d rather die.” There was a pause. This obviously wasn’t the answer the shadowy intruder had hoped for.

 

    “That can be arranged.” It assured, and the shadows around it seemed to stretch out toward her.

10.png

     By the time Gwen made it back to Reynoldsville it was mid afternoon. She’d stopped at a fast food joint on the way and picked up a large order of french fries and a chocolate shake, which she snacked on liberally as she ran. This wasn’t too unusual for her, carbs and sugar were good fuel for super speed. Dimly she was aware that she’d have to cut back if she wanted to lose any of this extra chub, but at the moment she was more focused on her meeting with Brainchild tomorrow.

 

     Dieting was too passive of a goal for her. Finally she had a chance at a more active solution. She was going to figure out what exactly Augustus's plan was and she was going to personally lay 250 pounds of hurt on his ass. In her excitement she lost track of her speed and skidded to a shaky stop outside the city limits, pushing 500 miles per hour. She pinwheeled her arms and managed to avoid falling on her face. She grinned but overcorrected and ended up falling on her ass.

 

     A truck driver passed by her. She caught the look of confusion on his face as he stared at the fat girl, dressed like a superhero sitting dumbly on the side of the road. He considered stopping to help her, but a sharp glare from her changed his mind and he drove on. She got to her feet, dusted herself off and ran into the city. She tugged down on the front of her top to cover the jiggling tummy beneath.

    Oh yes. Augustus was going to pay.

 

     She picked up another order of fries before heading back to her apartment. She’d intended to spend the rest of the day patrolling, but since she hadn’t actually eaten breakfast she figured she’d get some food first. She rounded the corner to her hotel and entered the hallway through a side door. She zipped into her room and closed the door behind her hoping that no one had noticed her. In the past she’d relied on her speed to avoid being seen, now that she was significantly slower she’d need a new plan. When she met with Brainchild she’d have to ask her how she got home without drawing undue attention.

 

     She picked up the hotel phone and dialed the number of a local pizza place as she untied her mask.

“Hey! I’m at the hotel off of center street, room 124.” She wedged the phone between her face and shoulder as she leaned over to pull off her shoes.

 

     “Yeah, one extra-large. Grilled chicken and black olives.” She couldn’t seem to get a good grip of her shoe over her belly and finally gave up and sat on the bed.

 

     “That’s an option?” Now she could pull her shoes off just fine. “Absolutely. Bacon stuffed crust it is.” She stood up again. “Perfect. See you in thirty.” She shut off the phone and peeled off her top. Her belly was lifted by the stretched fabric and dropped down as the shirt cleared her head, sending it into wobbling motion. She grimaced and made her way into the bathroom to shower. If superspeed had a weakness it was definitely sweat.

 

     By the time she’d finished showering her thirty minutes were nearly up. True, there was more of her to wash now, but the actual washing hadn’t taken her that much longer. In truth, Gwen had been distracted. This was the first time she’d bothered to really take in what had happened to her. For a good ten minutes she just stood there under the water bouncing her belly in her hands. She couldn’t see her toes past it unless she lifted her leg to look at them. She was huge and the idea of trying to lose all of it seemed a little daunting.

    Maybe she could return home early if she lost a little weight. Once she was back to full speed who cared if she was a little fat? She sneered involuntarily. There were probably some people who cared quite a bit… herself included. It would have been nice if she’d at least put the weight on in the right places.

    Her breasts had never been particularly small and they certainly weren’t since she’d had her little incident, but still she couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed that she’d ended up with a titanic ass and belly, but only ‘big’ breasts. She stepped out and toweled herself off. She grabbed a bra and pulled it on with little fuss, but when she tried to put her pants on they got stuck just below her butt.

    She turned accusingly and stared at the offending garment. These fit fine earlier… well they’d fit okay, but this was definitely new. She shimmied a little to get them up over her ass and managed to button the button with some effort. Her belt closed but the strain on the leather showed her that she had gone up a full notch. That left only two more before she’d need a new belt.

    She looked down at the dome of her belly and slapped it lightly with one hand. It jiggled without a trace of firmness and didn’t come to rest until she placed a hand against it. She slapped her forehead. She should have know this would happen. Her increased metabolism worked wonders for her when she was traveling at supersonic speed but when she was cruising so relatively slowly all it did was convert the five pounds of fries and milkshake she’d scarfed down into more padding on her waist.

    Before she could finish dressing there was a knock at the door. The pizza was here. Did she really need to be eating more? A low growl from her stomach answered that question for her and reluctantly she pulled on a shirt and went to answer.