This is another chapter that, while based loosely on the previous incarnation, received a substantial rewrite due to the presence of new and different characters this time through the story. Grew in size by roughly a third as well. Tl;dr version: skim at your own peril. Also, 'unf' and several aspects of Astrid's personality are copyright my Tumblr buddy Samantha
. Samantha is copyright her parents. That Samantha, however, should not be confused with the character Samantha Peters, who is mentioned in passing here and who came into existence six years before I met Tumblr!Samantha.
December 3, 2011
Giants Among Men Incorporated
New York, New York
And this was why she had been perfectly fine with a phone that was just a phone.
Sighing, Astrid gave up on her latest exploration of the various features of her new Nexus and poked the button that she knew would dump her back onto the device's home screen. After two days and several hours of tutoring by Jessica on the ins and outs of Android, she could place and receive calls, take pictures, access Facebook, and not a whole lot more. Not exactly worth the three hundred dollars she'd convinced her parents to spend on it… especially considering they'd declared it her Christmas present from them for the year. To top it off, the fucking thing didn't even fit in the special pocket she'd added to her costume to hold her old flip phone. Thank God it was only two days old. Maybe she'd stop by a store on the way home from school on Monday and return it…
Muttered grumbles made Astrid look up from her phone-related problems and her eyes widened. There was nothing wrong with taking advantage of the Nexus's superior camera while she had it, she instantly decided, even if the phone itself was an overpriced lump of crap she was eventually going to return. With that thought firmly in mind, she pulled up the camera app and began covertly snapping pictures of the Spider-Clan's most curvaceous member. Because even if this new costume of Felicia's was thicker and concealed her spectacular cleavage, it was still a tight outfit hugging an amazing figure and… unf. Astrid definitely approved.
Felicia, on the other hand, evidently did not. "Well, I'm dressed. Finally. Not exactly a fan of the jump in prep time, Doc. I can get my catsuit on in under a minute if I need to swing into action. This took me twenty; five for the tail and the plates around it alone." Peeking back over her shoulder, Felicia scowled as she rubbed the base of her spine. "And we're not even going to touch on my thoughts about the tail, since I don't need Astrid repeating them for the next year. I hate to break it to you, but this isn't looking like a good return on my investment…"
Hank Pym let out a snort of disgust as he eyed the PVC catsuit dangling from Felicia's right hand. "Yes, and I'm sure the twelve original backers of Henry Ford's company didn't think they were getting a good return on their investment for the first few years. Then 1908 happened." Before Astrid could ask what the hell the significance of 1908 was, Hank yanked Felicia's old catsuit out of her hand, tossing it on a nearby table before leading its owner over to a full length mirror. Turning Felicia sideways, he reached back and grabbed at the tail, lifting the lifeless end and waving it back and forth. Astrid licked her lips slowly; this new costume of Felicia's was getting better by the minute. "Yes, right now this is a lifeless lump of crap that took a while to hook up. Once I boot it up, though? It's prehensile, capable of transmitting a full range of sensations straight to your brain, outfitted with a series of gyroscopes to improve your balance and ability to fall safely, and powered by your body's own bioelectricity so you don't need to worry about it running out of juice in the middle of a battle. You asked us for something that would replicate a cat's far superior balance and preferably its ability to land on its feet from great heights. We've done that."
They'd also created what was possibly the world's most awesome sex toy. Astrid's eyes followed the end of the tail as Hank waved it back and forth. And if she was understanding things right - which she probably was, because she wasn't as stupid as the others liked to think she was - the way the geeks had even wired things up in a way that would ensure that any sexy fun time would be pleasurable for its owner as well. Oh, if only she and Felicia were on better terms. The fun they could have…
"Okay, fine, so that all sounds cool." Peering back over her shoulder, Felicia poked again at where the tail met her body. "But did you really have to-"
Releasing her tail, Hank shrugged as he wandered past where Astrid and the others were sitting on his way to a long workbench covered in computers. "We've been over this already, Felicia. Most of the things the tail does requires it to be directly connected to your nervous system. The base of your spine was the most logical place to put the tail's connector port. If you really want, though, you can pay me to perform another surgery to remove the port, you can pay us to go back to the drawing board, and then you can pay to return for a third surgery when we come up with a better idea? There will also be an additional fee for any changes that need to be made to the hardware…"
Felicia sighed in resignation. "Well, doesn't that just sound about as fun as calling up Doctor Rapaport and making an appointment to get turned back into a scrawny albino? In other words… pass. Speaking of 'once we boot it up', though… how about we try that?" Hank shot her an unreadable look before stabbing at the keyboard in front of him. The tail surged to life, nearly making Felicia jump out of her skin, and Jessica and Julia joined Astrid in giggling at the albino's reaction. "Ack! Weird!" Turning to the left and then to the right, she frowned as the tail evaded her attempts to catch a glimpse of it. "Son of… seriously? I'm getting trolled by one of my own appendages?"
A soft groan from over where the other half of the Spider-Clan was gathered drew Astrid's eye to Gwen as the blonde began wheeling her way over to Felicia. Gwen was… a conundrum to Astrid. She honestly didn't know how to treat the elder blonde most the time. Possessing both a deliciously curvy body and a brilliant mind, Gwen appealed to Astrid on two completely different levels instead of the simple lust she harbored for Felicia. Gwen also tolerated Astrid's flirting and sexual comments better than anyone save Mary Jane; while she did nothing to encourage Astrid, she likewise did nothing to try and dissuade the younger girl's behavior. But then there was the matter of Gwen's disability. Was Astrid a better and more enlightened person for being willing to look past the wheelchair and enjoy the eyeful of cleavage that the significant height difference afforded her? Or some kind of freaky sicko?
Well, most people would probably argue that her thoughts regarding Felicia's tail would make her a sicko. Some would say the same of her interest in the fairer sex, even. So… more of a sicko, then?
Astrid was pulled from her thoughts as Gwen reached Felicia, reaching up to grab the white-haired woman by the hips and stop her increasingly frantic twisting. "Calm down, spaz. We went through this with Astrid and her legs, remember? This isn't a new grappling hook or something. You now have more appendages than the average person. Of course things are going to be weird until you get used to it." Felicia stared down at Gwen for a long moment before nodding, slowing her breathing as her tail began to swish back and forth behind her rhythmically. "Okay, let's assume this is at all like Astrid's situation. Picture your tail wra-" A black blur whipped around from behind Felicia, smacking into Gwen's cheek roughly and making the blonde cry out in pain. Jerking her wheelchair backward, she scowled as she rubbed at her cheek with one hand. "Okay, fuck that. You're on your own."
Taking a step forward, Felicia froze as Gwen rolled herself further away, before glaring down at her insolent tail. "Listen, you. Behave or you're going back in the box." And wouldn't that just suck, Astrid mused. Because… well, she had absolutely no chance of sexy fun time with the tail as it stood, but at least with it around she could stare and dream. As she watched, the tail slowed its back and forth movement before slowly curling itself around Felicia's waist. Hesitantly, the albino reached down to pat it. "Good boy." With that taken care of - at least for now - Felicia turned her attention to where Hank was standing near a pair of mannequins, inspecting the catsuits they were wearing. "I have a question. I'll admit it might be a stupid question… but how did you test whether or not the gyroscopes will work for me? I mean, you can hook the tail up to a computer and poke it, run a lighter near it, rub an ice cube over it, et cetera. Little bits of data come flowing out if your sensors are working. But how exactly did you test the 'gives her better balance' or 'lands on her feet' properties if I'm the first person to actually wear this?"
"We didn't. That's about to change, though." Hank nodded toward the opposite end of the room and raised his voice. "Cassie?"
The door next to one leading to the room Felicia had been changing in opened, and out stepped… unf. Just… unf. Usually Astrid was more a fan of voluptuous girls, but she'd make an exception for this girl. Because damn. Maybe it was the pigtails, or the shiny black and red catsuit, or the way the curling legs of the red ant on the catsuited highlighted what curves the girl did have, or the plump ass that stuck out behind the blonde like a half-moon when she turned to Felicia and presented her profile to Astrid but… fuck. If given half a chance, she'd be all over that.
Unfortunately, Cassie didn't seem inclined to give Astrid so much as a millionth of a chance, keeping her attention fixed firmly on Felicia. Equally unfortunately - but entirely unsurprisingly, because Astrid had known Felicia had no taste from the day the albino rejected her - Felicia didn't seem be as taken with Cassie as Astrid was. "…just what I need, another bug girl in my life. Let me guess. Ant-Girl?"
"Only until they finish my catsuit and I can stop borrowing Sam's. Then I'll be either Stature or Titan. Or maybe just Cassie Lang. Depends what kind of mood I'm in." Looking down, Cassie ran a hand over the stylized ant that adorned the front of her catsuit. "Putting me in this is actually a bit ironic, since I'm the girl they test height multiplication on." The blonde offered a shrug before nodding in Hank's direction. "Can't complain too much, though. Doctor Pym's hazard pay is putting me through college, and he's going to let me use the tech behind his Ant-Man helmet as the basis for my Senior Project for my bachelor's in Electrical Engineering." Wow, hot and smart. Kinda like Gwen without the awkwardness of disability, Astrid mused. Or the amazing rack. Cassie did have some serious badonkadonk, though, and that made up for it. Almost. Hmm. Which was more important to her, working legs or a big chest?
…did it make her a bad person if it was the latter?
Snorting, Felicia looked Cassie up and down slowly. "Scott mentioned you during one of my other visits. Still not sure how I feel about the idea of a guy talking his little sister into signing up for an experiment that even he's not willing to be a part of. I was also going to be grossed out by the idea of him helping make an outfit like that for you but if it's not yours, I guess I can't say anything… until I see what he comes up with for you."
Cassie frowned as she glanced down at herself, then over at where Hank was, and then finally returned her attention to Felicia. "…I helped Sam design this. Why? What's wrong with it?"
"Yeah, Felicia. What's wrong with it?" Sliding off of the lab table that she was sharing with her fellow Spider-Girls, Astrid made her way over to stand behind Cassie… and wow, that ass was even bigger up close. Astrid tried to distract herself by looking at the stylized ant that turned out to be present on the catsuit's back too… but inevitably her eyes ended up following the design's lower two legs back down to Dat Ass. "I think it's awesome."
Scoffing, Felicia reached over Cassie's shoulder and flicked Astrid's forehead. "You would, Legs. That's why you're not allowed to design costumes for anyone else on the team." After pausing for a few seconds, Felicia eventually shook her head. "You know what? Whatever. You can wear whatever you want to wear."
"Oh goody! You have no idea how much your approval means to me." Cassie shook her head, muttering something under her breath as she stepped out from between Astrid and Felicia. "As for me signing up when Scott wouldn't… personally, I think it makes more sense to keep the people who can undo this at normal size in case something horrible happens." Before Astrid could ask what 'this' was, Cassie pulled out an inhaler and took two quick puffs. Dropping the inhaler to the floor, she hunched forward slightly as her body began to grow. Astrid's eyes widened; so that's what 'height multiplication' was. Her left hand shot forward and curled around Felicia's body, lifting the albino into the air as Cassie continued to grow, and Astrid leapt backward to put a little space between herself and the increasingly large blonde. Not that she thought Cassie would suck her into whatever demonstration was about to occur but… better safe than sorry.
When Cassie finally stopped growing and straightened up, the top of her head was somewhere between the twenty-five and thirty foot marks painted on the wall. Felicia looked around curiously from her new vantage point before going very still, slowly turning her head to look over - and up - at Cassie. "No."
What? Astrid's eyes went wide as Cassie released her grip on Felicia, the white-haired woman letting out a squawk of indignation as she plummeted downward. Twisting in midair, she spread her arms and legs to distribute the impact, her tail stiffening and standing straight up like the mast of a ship. Her hands hit the ground first and Felicia's elbows bent as her arms absorbed the sudden stress they were subjected to, her feet touching down a second later. Snapping her legs shut, she pushed off the ground hard and popped upright, thrusting her hands up into the air and looking to one side and then the other. And then she turned around so she could kick Cassie in one giant shin. "Bitch."
"After making fun of the costume, you're lucky I didn't toss you upward." Cassie took a few step backwards before carefully lowering herself to the floor, sitting Indian style in the large empty space that Astrid assumed was probably large and empty because it was used for times just like this. "So. Satisfied that your tail works now?"
Felicia nodded and smiled, but was delayed from sharing her thoughts when a new voice entering the conversation. "Actually, can you drop her again? My picture of her 'oh shit' face didn't come out as good as I was hoping." Astrid glanced over to find her two fellow Spider-Girls sitting with their cell phones out and pointed in Felicia's direction. Unaffected by the suddens scrutiny, Julia grinned and shrugged. "What? It'd be great for our Facebook page. Hmm. Now that I think about it, this is a bad pic in more than one way. Hey Cassie, do you have a mask or helmet you can use to hide your identity? Because one of us can loan you ours if you don't. Well, I mean, I'm assuming you want to have a secret identity. If not…"
Scowling, Felicia pointed first at Cassie and then at Julia. "You, don't even think about it. You, don't give her any ideas. And…" Felicia paused, going over Julia's commentary again and still coming up blank. "Since when do 'we' have a Facebook page? I know I have a Facebook as Felicia and another as the Black Cat…"
That was actually a good question, because Astrid didn't know the answer herself. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mary Jane did. "It went live last week. We have an official Twitter account, too. I mean, there's nothing wrong with each of you having your own, and I'm not going to ask you to stop or anything. I just thought it'd be best for public relations to centralize everything and give the group a unified Internet presence."
Huh. Cool. Well, that was the kind of thing Felicia was barely paying the redhead to think about for them, Astrid reminded herself. It made sense that Mary Jane would go out of her way to prove her worth in the one way she could. And since it evidently wouldn't interfere with her existing accounts, she didn't see a problem with it. Turning her attention back to Felicia, Astrid nibbled her lower lip. As much fun as it might be to watch her get dropped another time or two, standing around the lab was the kind of fun that wasn't. Maybe the others would settle for… "Does the new costume do anything else cool? Why don't we take pictures of her doing… something else?"
"The suit itself does have another new feature but if you can take pictures of it, I did something wrong. Look down at your belt, Felicia. Starting at the centered section, move three segments to the right and push down on it." Hank rolled his eyes as Felicia's hand lingered over the proper section uncertainly, making his way over to her and jabbing at it with two fingers. Abruptly, the albino's body rippled and shifted from black with grey and white accents to… it almost looked like the floor tiles she was standing on, Astrid mused. "It's a combination of light bending technology for the visual illusion along with a thin, malleable layer spread over the surface of your armor that can be filled with a special gel to simulate texture. For instance, if you press yourself against a brick wall, not only will you turn red with white mortar but the armor will push out and groove in to produce a brick and mortar pattern. I was pondering incorporating it into Samantha and Kaida's outfits, but then I realized it'd just make them easier to step on."
Batting at Hank to force him to back away, Felicia paused as her arm rippled and turned white to match his lab coat. "Huh. Well that's just plain nifty. What about the rest of the stuff I ordered? I'm pretty sure throwing a pair of silver gauntlets on over this is going to destroy my sneakiness." Hank nodded and gestured over at… holy shit, there was someone else in the room with them. Astrid shook her head in disbelief; her situational awareness sucked like Kim Kardashian on the first date. How had she not gotten shanked by a criminal yet? "Hey, Scott! What've you got for me?"
"Other than the fashion advice you'll ignore just like every other time, you mean?" A gunmetal grey briefcase in each hand, a blond man who bore a striking resemblance to Cassie made his way over to the lab table nearest Felicia, setting down his burden before gesturing for her to join him. Scott held his arms out as the albino approached, pulling Felicia into a hug and pressing a kiss to each cheek before backing away. "Sweetie, I'm proud of you for dumping the Catwoman chic but I still think we need to reconsider your entire persona. You're an albino. Embrace it. Own it. Think… Manx. Or maybe Persian, seeing as how you have a tail now. But mixing that much pale with a black costume… you look like a vampire. And not a hot Robert Pattinson kind, either."
Holy shit, Astrid thought; she was so gay she came rainbows and this guy outgayed even her. It was kinda like hanging out with a geeky Carson Kressley. A snort drew the blonde's attention upward to where Cassie was still twenty-odd feet tall and leaning against the wall. "This is normal. He didn't stop harassing the shorties about their bright costumes until Kaida dumped him on his ass for nearly stepping on her. Now he's all for yellow and black for her and this costume for Sam. Still on my giant-sized ass about wanting a red and black costume of my own, though."
Scott snorted as he undid the latches holding each briefcase closed, lifting the lids to reveal a pair of two-toned black and grey guns. "That's because the design you showed me is a hot mess, sis. The only thing worse than it would be seeing it at five hundred percent normal size." Pulling out the gun in the left briefcase, he handed it to Felicia. "A gas-powered magnetic grapple gun with three hundred and fifty pound test monofilament. If it works well for you, I'll start working on miniaturizing the tech so we can slip it under the skin of your costume's forearms." Felicia nodded and slipped the grapple gun into a holster at her left hip, freeing up her hands to receive a second, nearly identical gun from Scott. "And this is a taser. Constant amperage, variable voltage. I'd recommend testing the different settings on one of your teammates to get an idea for how they'll affect superhumans."
Hmm. On one hand, getting tasered probably sucked. On the other, it couldn't be that much worse than being the one Jessica demonstrated her powers on during her audition for the team, and it would mean spending some quality time with Felicia and probably Gwen. But before Astrid could volunteer, the latter spoke up. "That's not the only thing we'll be testing. You're off the patrol roster until I can look your new costume over. I'll be perfectly capable of making repairs to your costume once I have a baseline to compare against, and I'm sure Doctor Pym has better things to do than fix every scratch you put in it."
"Oh really?" Turning, Felicia slipped the taser into a matching holster on her right hip before sashaying over to the wheelchair-bound blonde, bending down and placing her forearms on the chair's armrests as she leaned in until her lips were within inches of Gwen's. "And if I told you that it takes at least dinner and a movie to get this girl out of her costume?"
"Hmm. In that case, pick me up tomorrow night at seven. Your choice of movie and restaurant, since you're paying for it." Gwen chuckled and used a finger to close Felicia's open mouth before rolling herself backward to put a little space between herself and the flirtatious albino. "You said it'd take dinner and a movie. You never said I had to pay for it. So I'll see you at seven." Turning her chair ninety degrees, she left the frozen Felicia behind as she rolled over to where Hank had returned to his work with the catsuit-clad mannequins. "Did you get a chance to look at the email I sent you, Doctor? I've got the mechanical web-shooters finished but I'm not quite happy with any of the variations of the formula that I've cooked up…"
Wait… had the two girls on the team that she had the hots for just hooked up with each other? Or was this just Gwen beating Felicia at her own game? Come to think of it, which option was Astrid rooting for? Because the two of them getting together meant she'd have no shot with either of them… but she didn't exactly have a shot with either of them as it stood, and them hooking up meant she might get to walk in on some hot girl-on-girl action at some point. With two really busty girls.
That… would… be… awesome!
December 3, 2011
A Rooftop With an Excellent View
New York, New York
Three pairs of eyes watched as Spider-Man and his teenage sidekicks headed out for a night of crime-fighting, followed shortly thereafter by the three remaining members of the Spider-Clan departing via a black Jetta. As the car merged into traffic and began its journey uptown, the largest and most colorful of the three observers spoke up. "So, can you explain to me again why this is a good idea? Sir."
Sighing, Director Nicholas Fury looked up and to his right, regarding the world's first super-soldier with a critical eye. Steve Rogers, better known to the world as Captain America, had a mind like a steel trap when it came to all matters military, capable of memorizing a seemingly endless amount of information about weapons, technology, enemy dossiers, and tactical training for modern warfare. Basic principles of economics, however, were evidently something he couldn't quite wrap his mind around. "The same reason I tolerate Tony Stark's bullshit: I want what Hank Pym is creating for our Avengers Initiative. Unfortunately, that part of my budget is having a bit of a cash flow problem. Pulling you out of the ice didn't make the two groups trying to recreate Project: Rebirth disappear overnight; we're actually going to have to spend extra money to shut them down before they're finished. Between that and a few smaller projects I've got going right now, my dollars are disappearing like I'm a drunk man at a strip club. But by letting Pym use the money he's earning through 'Giants Among Men' to bring his projects to life…"
"…then we can swoop in and either purchase the final product from him, or maybe even recruit some of his test subjects directly to join the Avengers Initiative. Either way, we get what we want for a fraction of what it would have cost us to develop it ourselves." From his left, Natalia finished his thoughts, once again leaving Nick wondering if she should be allowed to step into the overall leadership role for the team they were putting together. Loathe as he was to take his queen off the black ops chessboard, the team needed someone capable of guiding them through any mission he set them to. Given time to learn, Steve might catch up with or even surpass Natalia, but at the moment? There was no way Nick would pick him over Natalia for something like a network-centric operation or psy op, much less fourth generation warfare. "Also, forcing Pym to earn his money by supplying local heroes has the lovely side effect of creating a better class of hero in the city, which in turn lowers the crime rate. Da?"
Nick nodded, looking over at the statuesque redhead. She was also a fair sight prettier than America's original super-soldier; if he had to sit in lengthy briefings with one of the two, he knew which one he'd pick any day. That, and the two of them had history together. They got along better, understood how the other thought. For instance? "You know, Pym just threw together a fairly complex cybernetic tail that interfaces with Miss Hardy's nervous system from mostly off-the-shelf components." One of Natalia's perfectly shaped eyebrows rose at the seeming non sequitur, and Nick gestured down at the door that the various members of the Spider-Clan had emerged from. "I know you don't like any of the cyberneticists at the Triskelion. Maybe you'd get along better with Pym and his minions? SHIELD would pay for any services rendered, just like if it was any other medical treatment."
Lifting her right foot, Natalia placed it on the edge of the roof and ran her hand up and down her shapely leg before stopping with it resting on her thigh. "I suppose I could give them a try. One of my implants has been bothering me ever since we broke up that Skrull infiltrator cell last month. Neural conduction through my right thigh is off by point one eight percent and it's positively destroying my balance."
Eyeing her chest, where the top of a blood red hourglass was stretched over her bountiful bosom, Nick sighed and shook his head. "You know, I had a perfectly good joke about 'implants' ready to go before you ruined my opening with that last bit."
Natalia let out a laugh at that. "You are a pig, Nicholas. Lucky for you, you're a pig who gives amazing foot massages." Fingering the black gauntlet on her right arm, the redhead let out a thoughtful noise. "Even with the research I stole from the KGB, SHIELD's researchers have been unable to recreate my… Vdová Pocelúj. Pym seems to be a competent enough chemist. Perhaps he'll have better luck?" Waggling her fingers at him, Natalia flipped forward over the edge of the roof and plummeted down out of sight.
"Son of a…" Leaning forward, Nick watched as Natalia landed on the pavement below before looking up and waving at him. Even though he knew the drop was well within her body's tolerances, it still unsettled him sometimes to see Natalia - and Steve, for that matter - pulling off moves beyond the ability of mere mortals. Scowling down at the redhead and her cheeky grin, Nick pointed a finger at her as he used his other hand to flick on the radio he was wearing. "Nobody likes a show off."
"You like me, Nicholas."
Eh, true enough. Nick watched as Natalia made her way over to the door and slipped into the building before turning to Steve… who was staring at him with an odd expression on his face. "What?"
"Foot massages, sir?"
"Hell yeah, soldier. I've got my technique down and everything. I'm the foot fucking master."