Something In the Air Tonight
A Worm Crack Fic Snip
[A/N: This snip has not been beta-read. My beta has better taste than this.]
"Oh, sorry!" I exclaimed, feeling horribly embarrassed as the no doubt choking clouds filled the elevator. "That wasn't aimed at anything. I'm just a bit nervous."
"That's okay, Lawrence." Miss Militia's voice was warm and forgiving. I was pretty sure she had noseplugs in under her scarf. Otherwise, why would she have volunteered to escort me down in the elevator? "Accidents will happen, and no harm was done."
I breathed a little easier at that. Joining the Wards was something I'd looked forward to doing ever since I found out I had powers. Apart from their unconventional nature—and when it came to capes, just about everything counted as unconventional—I'd encountered no real roadblocks in my recruitment process. In fact, the only real problem was projected to be my upcoming meeting with Image. I got the impression that there was a brisk betting pool hinging on the outcome.
The elevator stopped. I took a deep breath as the doors opened. "How do I look?"
"Nervous. But you'll do fine." Miss Militia stepped forward out of the elevator. "Let's not keep them waiting."
"Do they ... do they know?" About my powers, I meant.
This time, her eyes twinkled above her scarf. "Not yet," she said cheerfully. "Assault lobbied strongly to be the one to tell them, but the Director gave me the job because I have seniority and—as she put it—I'm less likely to be childish about it."
I was pretty sure I knew who she was talking about. "Assault is the guy who couldn't stop laughing, right?" Battery, his partner, had smacked him upside the head a few times for making what she called inappropriate jokes. Not that I hadn't heard all of them before.
"That's him." She sighed. "In the field, he's dependable as any. Off duty … it seems to me that he just doesn't want to take anything seriously that he doesn't have to." She fixed me with a mock glare. "I didn't say that, and you didn't hear it from me."
"Hear what?" I asked innocently. She made a rude noise with her lips, behind the scarf.
I raised an eyebrow in her direction. She raised her hand hastily. "That was not a challenge."
I grinned at her. "Okay, no problems."
At the far end of the metal-lined corridor, she paused to apply her eye to a retinal scanner. I'd been warned about the mask-up alarm delay, which made sense to me. Thirty seconds later, the doors hissed open and we entered. Facing us were half a dozen teenage capes, in varying stages of 'costumed up', but all were masked or otherwise had their faces obscured.
"Ah, good, you're all here," Miss Militia said, then paused. "Ah, wait. Where's Shadow Stalker?"
Aegis—I recognised him from TV—stood up and coughed in mild embarrassment. "She said she was going to take a nap. I told her to wait out here with the rest of us, but …" His shrug was mute acceptance that he'd been found wanting.
Just then, a teenaged girl stomped out of the corridor leading to what I presumed was the Wards sleeping area. She had a scowling-woman mask and a hooded cloak on over a T-shirt and Hello Kitty shorts. The level of aggravation radiating off of her made my stomach clench slightly.
"Seriously, I just managed to get comfortable," she groused, then looked at me. "So, this the new guy, huh?" Her eyes raked over me in a way that didn't give me a good feeling for the future.
The younger girl standing with the rest of the Wards was the first to put her hand over her mouth and nose. Shadow Stalker's nose wrinkled a few seconds after that. "Jesus fuck, you filthy asshole. I meet you for five seconds, and already you're cutting the cheese?"
"I can't help it," I said defensively. "I'm nervous, and you yelling at me isn't helping."
By now, the rest of the Wards were in full retreat, falling back to the other side of the wide open area. Miss Militia's nose plugs were obviously working well, because she wasn't retreating. Or maybe she was just that tough. Shadow Stalker, on the other hand, was a glutton for punishment. "And there you go again!" she shouted, closing the distance with me. "Stop farting, you lowlife!"
"Stop yelling at me!" I countered.
Up until now, it had just been little bursts. Things were starting to get out of hand. Shadow Stalker gagged then leaped at me, apparently having forgotten that her superior was right there in the room. "Stop farting!" she screamed. I went over backward, with her on top of me. She was a bit taller than me, and quite a bit stronger. There was no way I was going to physically overpower her.
Fortunately, I didn't have to.
Rearing up with one fist cocked back to punch me, Shadow Stalker abruptly choked. A second later, she collapsed on top of me. With some effort, I rolled her to one side. "Don't come any closer!" I called out in warning. Then I dug into my utility belt for the one indispensable piece of gear I carried; a Zippo lighter. Holding it up, I flicked the wheel. There was a gentle whoomph and a wave of light-blue flame washed out from the lighter, singeing my eyebrows and spreading halfway across the room before it guttered out. "Okay, it should be safe now."
As I slowly got to my feet, Miss Militia cautiously approached me, keeping the Wards behind her. "Are you all right?" she asked.
"I'm fine," I said, trying not to wince too obviously. "I've been roughed up for farting before. No big deal."
"What about Shadow Stalker?" asked Aegis. "What did you do to her?"
"Oh, that was a Silent But Deadly," I told him. "She should wake up in about ten minutes with a horrible taste in her mouth."
"She'll wake up with more than that to worry about," Miss Militia said grimly. "She attacked you without provocation."
I snorted indelicately. "Nah, don't bother. She didn't know about my powers. For all she knew, I was doing it deliberately."
"Well, if you're sure …" Above the scarf, Miss Militia's brows creased in concern.
"Sure I'm sure." I shrugged. "Like I said, not the first time."
The only Ward wearing all white, who I was pretty sure was Clockblocker due to the clock-faces wandering over his costume, moved forward past Miss Militia. "Just wait a minute," he said, sounding as though he didn't want to believe his own voice. "Are you saying your power is farting?"
"That's me," I agreed. "Call me Captain Flatulence." For the name, I deepened my voice to make it faux-dramatic. I might also have struck a pose.
Slowly, the Tinker in grey power armour face-palmed. It made a muted clang. "Your power is farts," he reiterated. "How is that even a thing?"
"And why Captain Flatulence?" asked the other Tinker, the one in red and gold. I had a hunch that was Kid Win. "Isn't that a bit … pretentious?"
I rolled my eyes. "Well, it's better than Fart Boy." Then again, anything was better than Fart Boy.
The overmuscled one reached out a hand that was basically twice the size of mine. "Don't let them make you feel unwelcome," he advised me. "I'm Browbeat, and I suffered a little hazing about my name, too."
I shook it, feeling like my hand was just being swallowed up. "Thanks, man."
"So, uh …" The girl in green and teal cleared her throat, then tried again. "So, uh, Captain Flatulence, what are your powers? Apart from uncontrolled flatulence when you're nervous, and knocking out Shadow Stalker with a silent but deadly fart, I mean?" As with most people I spoke to about my powers, she didn't sound as though she could believe what she was saying.
I looked to Miss Militia. "Can I? Please?"
She rolled her eyes, but I thought I saw her cheek quirk outward in a smile under the scarf. "Go ahead. You may as well."
"Awesome." I'd done this once before, in Director Piggot's office. Armsmaster had been stiffly disbelieving, and Battery had had to help Assault out the door, as the red-clad hero had been laughing too hard to walk on his own. Striking the pose again, I coughed into my fist. Again, I lowered my voice and slowed my diction for dramatic effect. "I … am Captain Flatulence!" I proclaimed. "With one fart, I can crack glass, melt plastic, warp wood, corrode metal, stop machinery, disrupt electronics and render my enemies helpless!" I raised my fist in the air. "I am he who goes …" frrrt "... in the night!"
Pausing, I looked over the effect I'd had on the assembled Wards. Clockblocker was already laughing; as I watched, he dropped into a chair then fell out of it on to the floor. Kid Win wasn't far behind him.
"Boys," groaned Vista—there was nobody else in the room who could be her—as she sat down at the table. "If they're not picking their noses or scratching where they shouldn't be scratching, it's fart jokes."
"I'm sorry, but I didn't actually pick my powers," I said as I approached her. "Yeah, I know they lend themselves to being funny. But it's just the way they happened."
"At least tell me you can smell them," she pleaded. "They smell horrible."
I shook my head. "Sorry. I haven't had a sense of smell since I got my powers. They don't affect me, either. Unless they're supposed to."
She stared up at me from behind her visor. "Supposed to?"
I hadn't actually meant to let this bit out yet, but it would've come up sooner or later. "Yeah. If I take the time to build some pressure up, I'm capable of short-ranged flight."
Her eyes widened as she took in the import of what I was saying. "You're shitting me."
"Nah, not quite anyway," I retorted. That got me a dirty look. This didn't bother me; I was no stranger to dirty looks, especially since I got my powers.
"So what happens if you, uh, apply a flame just as you're lifting off?" Only Browbeat could ask that question with a straight face.
"Dunno." I shrugged. "Either I demonstrate the old 'rectum? Fucked 'im!' joke for real, or I achieve low earth orbit. I've never been really interested in finding out which one, to be honest."
Gallant—I was pretty sure I had them all picked out—shook his head as he looked down at his teammates. "I'm sorry, Clockblocker," he intoned. "You just lost your title."
"Title?" asked Aegis, looking at him curiously.
Gallant sighed, gesturing in my direction. "Team joker. Nobody is going to top someone whose power is literally weaponised flatulence."
"Martial farts!" cackled Clockblocker from where he was rolling on the floor, his arms wrapped around himself. "He's a master of martial farts!"
This time, it was Vista who face-palmed.
[A/N: Yes, this was an 1800-word fart joke.]