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Vim & Vigor
(A Worm / Bioshock Fanfic)
Outline: Taylor triggered as a Chemical Tinker with the ability to make Vigors and Plasmids from Bioshock. Armed with the ability to give others powers, why is Greg her first choice?
Warehouse – Docks, Early April, 9:24 PM.
I couldn’t believe I was finally doing this, out in full costume and everything. It was about time. I did the training and knew how my powers worked.
My first night out and I already found my targets. I was on a rooftop, hidden behind a broken neon sign on the top of an old building across from a pair of warehouses. There were the Merchants, loading up white vans that looked like they had been beaten by bats and ran through the mud.
‘Are you ready?‘ came through the radio attached to my ear, beneath the full face mask.
I adjusted the mask to make sure it was on straight. “Yeah, Ta—”
‘We’ve been over this,’ she cut-in. ‘Don’t use my name while you’re out in a mask. I don’t want to take any chances that someone can pick up on the channel, Tonic.‘
Greg rolled his eyes, grateful that Taylor couldn’t see him do so. The camera inside of his mask, a cheap spy camera he bought from this store he knew with a voice modulator, only showed what was ahead of him because of where it was placed. “I’m ready.”
‘Okay, first take the Energizer in the flask. That should excite the cells out of dormancy and make them unstable again.‘
I know, you’ve explained it a dozen times, I thought as I reached down into the utility belt I wore and pulled out a cheap pewter flask that had a worn emblem on the front. Twisting off the cap, the luminous bright blue liquid sloshed around inside the dark container. I still wasn’t clear on exactly what it was, but I knew it let me use the powers that she created.
She explained it so much that I knew by heart what it did. My cells had been changed by the formulas that I had taken once before, and the Energizer made the cells unstable to be capable of becoming something superhuman. My powers would last until it was used up and they became stable again, meaning, I was a Grab-Bag cape as far as anymore knew.
“Down the hatch,” I murmured before drinking it down. Not a second afterwards, I felt like I was on a sugar-high that made every part of me tingle beneath my skin. The echoes of power inside of my body from the ‘Vigors’ that I had drank once before became active once again.
‘Now, take the new Vigor,‘ she told me. ‘It’s called Eye Spy, and it’ll give you a combination of Stranger/Thinker powers to let you see through walls on the basic level, with living things appearing highlighted, and turn completely invisible to regular sight at a greater cost.‘
“Neat.” Taylor’s Tinker power was really versatile. Not to mention I could think of a lot of uses for this….
‘Don’t get any ideas,‘ she warned. Crap, I said that last part out loud, didn’t I? ‘Powers are not a toy, even if you could use them on your own.‘
I gave a small grunt as I reached for the small plastic bottle that was about the size of my palm and almost mistook it for lime-green soda. You would think that superpowers would come in a fancier container rather than a recycled bottle that had been cleaned out and marked by a small symbol taped onto the surface of the plastic. Then again, tinkering was expensive and that was part of the reason I was out here.
I chugged it down and watched my skin fade, revealing bones as I flexed my fingers. Then they vanished too, until I was completely invisible. Then everything flashed and I was solid again. “Trippy.”
‘Did the hallucinations pass?‘ she asked. ‘How bad was it?‘
“Not as bad as the bullet-stopping shield.” I concentrated on the mystifying sensation inside of me now and felt my eyes tickle before my vision shifted. I could see through the walls, with the people being sort of illuminated silhouettes.
‘Locate where they keep the money first with your vision.‘ I could hear the clacking of the keyboard keys on the other end. ‘Don’t get caught. Skidmark and Squealer are there. The latter is harmless outside of her contraptions, but Skidmark is the leader of the gang for a reason beyond his mouth.‘
If I remembered off PHO correct, he was some kind of low-level Shaker that manipulated an area to apply vectors to whatever was on or above it—a deflector field with a pushing effect. There was an entire discussion board on how he was using his powers wrong and would have a much higher rating if he wasn’t always strung out on drugs. Either way, he wasn’t a Brute so I didn’t think I’d have trouble with him.
X-Ray picked up where the drug lab was inside of the warehouse and the sheer number of goons inside with only two exits they could take in and out. As for the money, they were loading it into one of the vans, packed in a number of duffle bags that counted at least ten and rising. There were a few gunmen outside of that were monitoring the grounds, and on the second floor of the warehouse there was an office where two people were on a couch—oh, I did not need to see that!
“I need brain bleach!” I murmured, deactivating the power. There was sex and then there was… whatever that was. Who does that sort of thing in a drug house?
‘What’s wrong?‘ Taylor asked. She regretted it the moment I explained what I saw over the channel. ‘Eugh…That’s probably Skidmark and Squealer.’
“But how could they, with the—”
‘Nope, we never speak of this again,’ she ordered. ‘Just lay traps at the entrances. That will deal with the reinforcements, but you’ll need to be careful in dealing with the gunmen outside. Keep it quiet, grab the bags you can, and then just get out of there.‘
“Got it.” I climbed down the side of the fire escape and got to ground level before grabbing hold of that mystifying echo of power and holding onto it until it cloaked me invisible. There were five gunmen roaming around, but they didn’t see me as I ran across the lot and jumped over a stack of boxes near the mouth to an alley between the two warehouses. There I slipped into the side door.
I released the Invisibility once I was around a corner and out of sight, before grabbing hold of the Shocker power that thrummed inside of me. It manifested as purple crystals jutting out of my skin, electricity arching between them, the air around me filling with the scent of ozone. I had to tell myself that it would heal, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with.
I held onto it until the lightning began to crystallize together and then launched it into the ground in front of me to create a cluster of five bundled near the entrance in a network. The Manton effect caused it to trigger when a living person other than me entered into its range. The moment they went for this door, they were in for a shock. That would take them out of the fight.
I grabbed hold of Invisibility again and went around to the front entrance, where the garage door was raised. That would be harder to lay a trap for since the crystals were pretty obvious. Then again, if I did this right, could I get away with more than one or two bags? Taylor would probably want that. I pulled down on the lever controlling it and switched it to closed, leaving the whirring of the gears to attract attention.
“What the hell?” one of the gunmen pacing outside came to check it out. The moment his back was turned, I dropped invisibility and embraced the electrical powers again to shoot him in the back. He went down with a scream and drew eyes on me.
“Cape!” someone screamed, and I could hear them starting to panic as I went invisible again and snuck out the garage while they filed in to try and get me.
I skirted around to the other side of the vans, out of sight. X-Ray showed they were looking for me on the inside before I released it and embraced Shocker again. I charged another trap and sent it towards the side of the garage entrance before screaming, “Out here, morons!”
‘Tonic, what the hell are you doing?‘ Taylor demanded. ‘You could have grabbed the bags while they were still inside and disappeared!‘
Too late for that now that I had their attention. They tried to rush out the front only to trip the trap. Blue and white bolts jumped up into them and they hit the ground screaming and twitching in pain at having been caught in the electric field. More screams afterwards told me that they found the rear set as well. With both their capes inside too, I was in the clear.
I opened the door to the van with the money and found the keys inside of it. I started the van up, buckled in, and pressed down on the gas. The van peeled off and down the road of the docks, leaving the warehouses behind.
‘Ditch the van! Now!‘ Taylor yelled. ‘Turn somewhere off the main road and get out of there! ‘
“Why?” I didn’t get it. Weren’t we going to take it anyway? What’s the problem? “Isn’t it better to take all of the money now rather than a few bags?”
‘No, a missing bag or two they’ll give it up because there’s no way to catch up to you!‘ she said. ‘An entire van is worth coming after you! Did you forget what Squealer specialized in!?‘
The van suddenly jerked as something hit the rear wheel and I lost control. It swerved and tipped over to the side, skidding along the road until it crashed into a lamp post. The air bag popped out and slammed me in the face hard enough that I felt the mask threaten to embed itself into my skin.
‘Gre—Tonic, are you okay?‘
“Y-Yeah,” I managed to get free of the seatbelt and got the door open. I stumbled out when the glare of a bright set of lights made me turn away as if it slammed a fist into my face. I shielded my eyes to see that somehow what looked to be a tank made from a hummer with about a dozen guns managed to sneak up on me.
“You got a lot of nerve you little shit-stain.” That’d be Skidmark, standing with the lights behind him so that only his silhouette was visible. “Coming into my territory and stealing from me? You done fucked up big-time.”
“Tell him, baby!” said a woman’s voice. I looked towards the window of the vehicle and saw who I think was Squealer popping her head out of it. She was kind of hot, but kind of dirty as well. The kind of woman you didn’t take home to your mother.
“Um… sorry?” I said. “I’m still new at this.”
“Well, you won’t make that mistake again.” He turned to Squealer. “Cap the fucker, babe!”
Taylor screamed something, but I was already using the Repulsion Shield power to stop the bullets in mid-air before they hit me. The thing kept shooting though, forcing me to hold it longer as the metal melted and spun around what looked to be a sun in the palm of my hand as my fingers burned black and exposed bones. When it finally did run out of ammo, my fingers were burned down to the bone near my palms.
“Fuck!” one of them said. “He’s got the same power as that bitch from before. Run the fucker down!” Okay, now I was sure that was Skidmark now. Squealer pulled her head back into the tank-hummer and revved up the engine, planning on making me a red-smear across the front of it.
I panicked, throwing the ball of molten metal down as far ahead of me as I could, right along the path. The trap hit the ground as Squealer burned rubber. The force of the explosion sent me flying off my feet and I ended up spinning butt-over-head until I slammed into something metal that dented and then hit the ground.
It hurt, but I felt the injury healing courtesy of that Energizer I took to use my powers. Then I heard the crash and forced myself up to see that the tank-hummer that she cobbled together was upside down, wheels spinning and metal strewn all over the floor. Despite being hit by the trap, it was still in one-piece somehow.
‘Make sure she’s alive,’ Taylor said.
X-Ray revealed she was moving around, struggling to undo a belt-buckle. Good. Taylor would have been even more pissed if I had killed someone. Then I noticed the ground shifting beneath me only to find that it had been painted with a glowing band.
No, not the ground. I was moving back from the middle of the spectrum, caught in Skidmark’s power at work. He thrust his hands out, the color deepening as he applied it over and over. Then he jumped towards it and I found myself being shoulder-checked fast enough to get the wind knocked out of me.
I wheezed as I put my hand up in time to get another Repulsion Shield up, the spinning blue disk that generated a field stopping the shots of his handgun from reaching me for a few seconds. I got back onto my feet while he emptied the entire clip into trying to hit me.
He applied his power again, saturating the ground horizontally with me standing on the far end of the band. I was sent skating to the side and came to an abrupt stop at the end, tripping over the edge of a sidewalk. He grabbed a piece of metal to use like a baseball bat and stepped towards the band.
I called to the sensation of energy that was wild. It was like trying to tame a quake in my hand. My hand fractured, flesh ripping like cracks in the ground as the bucking energy rumbled beneath the surface and built up until I exhaled and released it. The air was displaced as gravity within an arch in front of me reversed and sent Skidmark sprawling into the air helplessly as his power brought him before me.
“The fuck is this?” he blurted out. “Do you people pull powers out of your ass all the time?”
I heard sirens in the distance as I stood up while the Merchant floated there. The gunfire and swearing alone probably got calls sent to the PRT and they’d send someone to deal with this. Time to go. I ran over to the overturned van, noticing that the rear tire had been shot out, and grabbed what I could carry.
Then I spent the last of my energy using Invisibility to get out of dodge.
An Hour Later
Taylor was pissed when I got back to where she set up shop. As much as I liked her, when she got mad it scared me. More so when I knew now that she was a Cape who made powers and had her own in the form of summoning crows out of her hands that went for the eyes.
“—promised me that you would do as I say and take my place until I got better,” she continued to yell. “That means not drawing any more attention to ourselves and you listening when I talk! And yet, your first night out, what happens!?”
“Sorry, I just thought—”
Taylor slammed her palm on the table next to me, not giving me a chance to finish. “Greg, look at me!” She yelled, pointing down to her legs. “The last time you didn’t listen to me, this happened! Did you forget that already?”
I felt my stomach drop staring at her in the wheelchair as she pointed. It was my fault she had ended up in it. “I didn’t mean to—”
“You never do. But it happens—and if you had been a second slower this time, Squealer and Skidmark would have killed you! How can I let you to go out again if I can’t trust you not to do something that will get you killed?”
“I just wanted to make sure you had enough to get more of those things.” I gestured to the inside of the aquarium that housed some kind of glowing sea slugs that she used. She was complaining that Case-53 guy that looked like a Deep One from that literature book we had to read last year was raising his prices when it came to gathering them. They didn’t have a long life in captivity, so the substance they produced to make her Vigors and Energizers was limited.
Now that I think about it, she never did mention how she got in contact with him or got all of this stuff like the power generator. Some of it could be picked up on the roadside or a thrift store, but I doubt that fancy looking device that poured out a fresh batch of flask-juice was just sitting out on the curb. Then again, she had been at it for at least a month or two before I found out her secret and she knew pretty well how the Merchants operated. Not to mention what Skidmark said. How many times did she do this to them?
“Pay attention, Greg!” Taylor snapped.
Crap, I drifted off. “Sorry. It won’t happen again. Promise.”
She just scowled at me before she turned in the wheelchair and rolled past another table. There were some vials on it and some sort of machine. It was making a new Vigor she was working on to grant Telekinesis-Blaster powers.
“Uh, can’t you breed those slug things?” I asked, trying to restart the conversation rather than letting it end with her mad. I read somewhere that getting Tinkers to talk about their work was good for shifting the mood, and judging from how she had all that stuff written on the board she would know how they worked, right? “Or increase the amount they make?”
“No.” Taylor said. “I’d have to implant them in a host to get more.” She rolled to a stop at the table where I placed the four duffle bags of money on and slipped on a pair of gloves before she started placing them in a sorting machine. Paranoid, or did she not want to touch anything the Merchants did….
“I can go back out again if that wasn’t enough then,” I offered as I used a few squirts of hand-sanitizer myself. Couldn’t hurt. “You can give me another flask, right?”
“Leaving aside what just happened, I don’t want to risk toxicity building up by letting you go out more than once a week with it. Too much in too short a time becomes habit forming, changing the way you think until I refine it further. Let it clear out of your body naturally before the next test run.”
That meant she would let me back out in the suit eventually, with a new power to boot. Good. Who knows, maybe if I help her out enough she’d forgive me for putting her in the chair in the first place once she got better. Then we could be partners for real, maybe even change our names to something that matched—like Vim and Vigor.
I liked the sound of that.
End Notes: As of right now this is a one-shot. I might add to it over time, but seriously I have no end-game plan so I don’t want to make it a big thing.
So, how did I get this idea in the first place?
Well, I came across a fanfic called Market Competition that gave me the initial idea for a Bioshock Crossover with Worm, namely you got superpowers in a bottle. But, at the same time, my need for neglected characters and/or redeemable characters sharing the spot light with the main protagonists came up. I didn’t want to do the standard Lung battle from Taylor’s point of view either, so these factors combined and formed the thought ‘why not put Greg into it against someone he could beat—namely, the Merchants who waste their potential?’
Greg is… a teenager, combined with a lack of subtly, going off-track easily, and a need for attention and to fit in. Taylor is more subdued when out of mask, so you can imagine that she has her work cut-out in keeping him in check as basically her side-kick/replacement. How did they start working together? Why is she in a wheelchair? How is it his fault?
Eh, take a guess or write your own version as a challenge.
Glossary: Because Taylor renamed the original formulas to suit her liking.
Energizer – Eve or Salts
Shocker – Shock Jockey
Zero-G – Bucking Broncho
Eye Spy – Peeping Tom
Repulsion Shield – Return to Sender
Nevermore – Murder of Crows
How Vigors Work: In this one-shot, the Vigors basically reconfigure the body to be capable of producing the effects but Energizer is needed to activate the change. It comes with a healing factor as well, like how the damage to Booker’s hands regenerates, but it only works when the cells are unstable. The reason Taylor doesn’t take any to heal her legs is because she has a limited supplies due to not going the Little Sisters/Bonesaw route to get hosts, and the damage had been done right after it had worn off, so she’s out of commission until they’ve healed naturally.
Greg’s Powers: Eye Spy, Zero-G, Shocker, Repulsion Shield
Taylor’s Powers: Nevermore, Repulsion Shield, Shocker