Note: This chapter is set in a universe combining Ordinary Heroes and Superhero. It has also been written for Halloween. Note also that because this is set in a universe incorporating Superhero, characters will refer to Lightning as 'Claire'.
X X X
Tricks and Treats and Superhero Fun
Deep within her fortress of solitude at the very heart of the South Pole, Vanille examined her plans one last time. Then she smiled. Yes, after so many months of hard work, it was finally time. Tonight, she would prove once and for all that she was the greatest genius in the history of the universe.
Her lips twitched and she struggled to hold back a cackle. Oh, why bother? There wasn't anyone else in her lab, and so long as she didn't cross the line into cartoonish super villainy a cackle or two wouldn't hurt. Right?
"Mwahahahahahahahahahahaha…" Vanille took a deep breath. She should really cackle more often. "Ahahahahahaha."
And in another part of the fortress, Fang shivered.
X X X
Diana loved Halloween, and it wasn't just for the candy. No, there was something ever better about it than candy, and that was saying something since candy was totally awesome. Halloween was the one night she could dress up like her mommy and walk around, and no one would think she was weird or anything. Even better, her mommy could walk around in her costume too, and no one would even know who she was.
"Have you got your costume on, kiddo?"
Diana perked up at the sound of her mommy's voice. "Almost, mommy." She twirled around in front of the mirror a few times and then flew up into the air to get a better look. She grinned. Perfect. Her costume was way better than the ones people could buy in stores. Her Aunt Vanille had made it for her, so it was exactly like her mommy's only a bit smaller. Or maybe a lot smaller – her mommy was really tall, and no matter how much milk Diana drank, it never seemed to make any difference.
"Come on, Diana," her mommy shouted from down the corridor. "Your mom and Averia are almost ready, and I want to see how you look in your Ultrawoman costume."
"Okay, mommy!" Diana gave her reflection one last, admiring look and then raced toward the door. "I'll be right –"
"Owie…" Diana stumbled away from the door and rubbed her head. She'd forgotten that the door didn't open fast enough for her to get through if she was moving at full speed. Well, at least she wasn't a normal kid, otherwise that would have really hurt. She frowned and looked at the door. Her mom wouldn't be too happy when she saw the big dent in it, but at least it was metal, so they could just bend it back in place. The last time she'd run into a wooden door, the whole thing had blown up, which had been really cool until her mom had told her to clean it up – and without using her powers either. "Coming, mommy!"
X X X
Fang chuckled as Diana flew into view. The girl was a chip off the old block, right down to running into doors. She'd done that a few times when she was younger, even ripped a hole in one of the matrons' walls. It was a good thing that she'd become quite good at home maintenance and repair, otherwise they'd have had to rely on Vanille's robots for everything, and the red head's robots tended to be much better at blowing things up than putting them back together.
"Well, don't you look good," Fang drawled.
Diana flitted through the air in front of Fang and struck what Fang suspected was supposed to be an appropriately heroic pose. On the little girl, however, it just looked cute, although the billowing cape was a nice touch.
"Yeah!" Diana glared at the far wall. "I just wish I had my heat vision then things would be even cooler." She paused. "Well, even hotter, but you know what I mean."
Fang smiled. She loved Diana, she really did, but it was something of a blessing that the girl hadn't developed her heat vision yet. It wasn't that Diana was a naughty child. She was simply a little mischievous. Most children though, couldn't punch through walls or fly. Add heat vision to the mix and Diana would become the world's greatest accidental weapon of mass destruction.
"It looks like you're ready."
Fang turned as Claire and Averia came into view. She smirked. She'd always been a fan of Claire's Lady Lightning costume. It was the skirt that did it. Claire's legs were a work of art equal to any masterpiece, and more than one super villain had met their doom after being caught staring. And Claire looked even better in the costume now than she had when they'd first met. Claire had been a young woman then – a very sexy young woman – but she was a woman in her prime now, and she was Fang's wife. That last part gave her about a billion bonus points in the sexiness department.
"Looking good there, sparky." Fang leered. "Really good."
Claire sighed. "Fang, my eyes are up here." When Fang's eyes moved up from her legs only to stop at her chest, she flicked a small bolt of electricity at the other woman. It wasn't enough to do any damage, but hopefully it would remind Fang that there were young and impressionable children around – their children. Later, of course, when they were alone, Fang could leer all she wanted.
"Oh, come on," Fang whined. "It's not like I get much time to ogle you when we're working."
Claire rolled her eyes. Fang could be such a kid sometimes. "You shouldn't be ogling me at all while we're working." Her lips curled and she gave Fang a good looking over. "Still, you're looking pretty good yourself."
"Of course." Fang gave her costume a pat. "I always look good." Her gaze shifted to Averia. The girl was dressed in a smaller version of Claire's costume. "Not bad." She gave Averia two thumbs up. "Definitely much better than a tutu."
"Mommy!" Averia hissed. She waved one fist in the air as little tendrils of lightning crackled along her fingertips. "Stop teasing me about that. There wasn't anything else I could change into."
Fang grinned. "So… you're telling me that you went off to save the world in a bright pink tutu because the only thing you could think of to take in a costume shop was a bright pink tutu?"
"I didn't have enough money to buy anything else," Averia grumbled. "And I didn't want to steal anything."
"Fair enough." Fang chuckled and reached over to pat Averia's hair back down. Whenever the girl's control over her electricity slipped, her hair puffed out into something that vaguely resembled a waterlogged porcupine. It was just a shame that Fang had never seen Claire lose control like that. "Maybe we should talk to your Aunt Vanille about making you something to wear. In a few more years, you'll be ready to go out on patrol with me or your mom, and I am not going to let one of my daughters fight crime in a tutu." Averia scowled. "So, now that we're all here, where do you want to go first? Halloween is pretty big in Nautilus so –"
"Hold it right there!" Vanille burst into the room. Looking about furtively, she pressed several buttons on one of the walls. A few seconds later, a huge image appeared. It showed the entire world along with several numbered routes, all of them glowing brightly. "You need to look at this first."
"What is that?" Fang asked. She really, really wanted to believe that Vanille wasn't about to come up with something crazy, but a lifetime of experience suggested otherwise.
"Look, we can't just go around doing Halloween like normal people." Vanille nodded gravely. "After all, we aren't normal people. We're superheroes, and that means we should do Halloween like only superheroes can." She pointed at the image. "Over the past year, I've been running a series of in depth simulations based on over a decade's worth of data. I've examined every major city in the world, and I've factored in everything from the average amount of candy given per house to the average distance between houses that give candy." She slapped one hand on the wall. "And after doing all of that, I came up with this. I call it SUHPOTS."
"SUHPOTS?" Claire's eye twitched, and honestly, Fang couldn't blame her. "What does that mean?"
"I'm glad you asked." Vanille looked at Diana and Averia. "You know that thing we talked about? This is it." The girls' eyes widened. "SUHPOTS stands for Super Ultimate Halloween Plan Of Total Success."
There was absolute silence from Fang and Claire – and wild, rapturous applause from Diana and Averia.
Fang shared another look with Claire. Over the years, she'd grown quite used to Vanille's little eccentricities, although there were times when she wondered if maybe her sister was about to descend into cartoonish super villainy. This was definitely one of those times. Worse, the girls actually seemed to be considering whatever Vanille was going on about. Oh, Claire was going to kill her if the girls picked up all of Vanille's quirks.
"Can you explain your plan, Aunt Vanille?" Averia asked. "What do you all the numbers mean?"
Vanille gave Averia an imperious look. "Of course, I can." She pointed at the image. "The numbers indicate the order that you should visit each city, and the glowing routes between each city show the path that you should take." She tapped one of the cities and the image zoomed in to show the city in greater detail. "I've also included the specific route that you need to take in each city to maximise your return."
"Our return?" Diana's eyes gleamed. "Do you mean how much candy we get?"
Vanille nodded sagely. "Precisely so, Diana."
There was more wild applause from the girls as Vanille basked in their adulation. In the meantime, Fang and Lightning could only look on in horrified fascination. On the upside, at least Vanille hadn't come up with a plan to conquer the world, although Fang had reason to believe that the red head had at least a dozen such plans hidden away somewhere.
"You see, girls, I know how much you love candy, and being the awesome aunt that I am, I've planned everything to ensure that you get the maximum amount of candy possible over the course of Halloween. I've even taken into account the presence of multiple time zones across the planet's surface." Vanille smiled beatifically. "It's absolutely perfect."
Fang felt a headache forming, and from the looks of it, so did Claire.
"Hmmm…" Averia frowned and studied the image more closely. "But we can't fly fast enough to reach all of these places."
Vanille grinned evilly. "Maybe you can't, but your parents can."
"Oh no." Fang held her hands up. "We are not…"
"Please, mommy," Diana begged. "Please…"
"Don't look at her, Fang!" Claire shouted.
Fang bit her lip. It might sound cruel, but Claire was right. Diana was too cute for her own good – there were even times when Fang wondered if the girl had some kind of mind control power, but all the tests had come back negative – and so she turned away, only for Diana to float right up to eye level. Damn it. Diana's eyes were so big and blue, and now they were watering up, and she was clasping her hands in front of her, and for crying out loud, now her lips were doing that trembling thing. Maker it wasn't fair. Diana was cute enough to turn rainbows into syrup, and transform puppies and kittens into little puddles of sugary goo.
"Gah!" Fang tried to look away again, but it was pointless. "Fine," she mumbled. "I guess, we could fly you around." She looked over at Claire. "What do you think?"
"I'm not sure." Claire was, for some reason, largely immune to Diana's cuteness attack, but that didn't mean she was safe from Averia.
"But, mom," Averia pointed out, voice calm and even. "We have been doing very well at school lately, and you did promise to take us flying this week. Besides, following Aunt Vanille's directions will help teach us how to follow mission plans and…"
Fang felt some small measure of victory as Averia used logic to get Claire to give in. As weaknesses went, Diana's pout wasn't such a bad one to have, especially since only the little girl could deploy it. Of course, now that Fang thought about it, she also had a tendency to cave whenever Averia pouted, or Vanille pouted, or Claire pouted or… damn… she really was a sucker for people close to her pouting wasn't she?
"All right," Fang said as she wrapped her arms around Diana. "I guess we should be going."
Diana giggled. "Yay! Candy, away!"
"Wait, wait!" Vanille shouted as she tossed two normal looking cloth bags at Fang and Claire. "Take these."
Fang paused. "What are they? They just look like regular bags."
"Look closer," Vanille said.
"Okay." Fang narrowed her eyes, and then blinked as the sub-atomic structure of the bag revealed itself. Wow. Whatever the bag was, it was most definitely not a normal cloth bag. "What is this?"
"I could give you an hour long lecture about what they are and how they work, but basically, you could call them spatial compression containment devices, or SCCDs for short." Vanille grinned. "It's my answer to the duffel bag."
"So what exactly does it do?" Claire asked. With any luck, it wouldn't involve explosions.
"Essentially, each of those bags is capable of vastly compressing matter for storage. In other words, you can fit a whole lot more into those bags than you should be able to because the bag shrinks them to fit. Once you take things out, they'll decompress back to their normal size." Vanille chuckled. "Even Santa himself could not do better. Based on my testing, you'll be able to fit several tonnes of candy into each of those bags."
Several. Tonnes. Of. Candy.
Diana and Averia looked like they'd died and gone to heaven.
Claire stared. "That's incredible." She scowled. "Have you given any thought to using these for something other than candy? You could revolutionise storage."
"Well…" Vanille winced. "They're not exactly finished yet. You see, the last few prototypes sort of exploded. One of them even did this weird thing where it sent the contents to a parallel dimension." Claire's scowl became a glare, a very scary glare. "But don't worry," Vanille said quickly. "The ones I gave you should be fine. The only thing is, even though I can make things smaller, I haven't worked out how to reduce their weight."
"I see." Fang rubbed her temple. "So if you put, say, four tonnes of candy in one of these, it might look small but it will still weigh four tonnes." Vanille nodded. "No wonder you gave these to us then, we're probably the only ones who can carry them around without worrying about that."
Vanille smiled sunnily. "I'm so glad to have such a smart sister." She shooed the others toward the door. "Now, get going. There's candy out there waiting for you."
X X X
Claire sighed as she walked up to the latest house on Vanille's little hit list. As much as she hated to admit it, the other woman had done a brilliant job in planning everything out. So far, they'd managed to collect more candy than she'd ever thought possible, and they still had half a dozen cities to hit. The girls were over the moon, and if she and Fang didn't have superhuman strength, they would have been crushed under the weight of all the candy in Vanille's specially modified bags.
Still, it was hard to get too annoyed when the girls were having so much fun. Diana loved special occasions like Halloween, and she practically skipped from house to house, taking in all of the decoration on display, and making sure to be extra cute whenever they had to knock on a door. Even Averia had gotten into the spirit of things, although it was a very, very good thing that it was Halloween, otherwise people might have been a little more curious about the lightning that occasionally crackled around Averia. As it was, most people seemed to think it was the greatest costume ever.
And speaking of costumes… if one more person tried to take a photo of her in her costume, she was going to kill someone. Sure, people took photos of her all the time when she was doing her hero work, but this was different. She was simply trying to have a nice night out with her family. So if she just happened to be surrounded by a field of static electricity that temporarily shorted out people's phones and cameras that was just too bad, and she certainly didn't have anything thing to do with it.
"Is this the place, mom?" Diana asked, breaking Claire out of her thoughts.
Claire nodded. "Yes."
"Good." Diana skipped over to the front door, taking a few moments to look at all of the pumpkins set up around the front lawn along with the scarecrow on the porch. Averia was a step behind her as Claire and Fang hung back to watch.
Diana knocked on the door, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, and a few moments later, a kindly old lady opened it.
"My, aren't you two cute?" The old lady smiled. "You two look just like Lady Lightning and Ultrawoman." She glanced past them and gasped. "And those must be your parents? Why, you've all put so much effort into your costumes." She offered Diana and Averia some candy. "Here, have some. You deserve some for working so hard."
Diana eyed the candy. There was a lot of it. "Yay!" she cried as she rose a few inches into the air.
"Oh." The old woman tilted her head to one side. "That's definitely not something I've seen before."
Claire winced, but thankfully, Averia had the situation under control. The older girl, quickly grabbed hold of Diana, making it appear as though she were holding the other girl up.
"My sister likes to pretend she can fly." Averia smiled. "Sometimes, she even pretends she has heat vision."
"Well, isn't that nice." The old woman smiled. "How about you show me your heat vision?"
"Okay." Diana giggled and glared at a nearby pumpkin.
There was a flash of red light and the pumpkin promptly burst into flames.
Claire stared. "Fang… please tell me that you did that."
Fang gulped. "No, that was Diana."
"I see." Claire paused. There were times when discretion was the better part of valour. "Grab the girls."
Bidding the old woman a speedy farewell, Claire and Fang whisked the girls away from the house and up into the air. It was the last house for that city anyway, and after Diana's display, it was better safe than sorry.
"Cool!" Diana cried as they sped through the air. "Now, I can melt things with my eyes!"
X X X
Tifa padded to the door of the apartment as the rest of AVALANCHE continued to party away in the living room. Well, most of the rest of AVALANCHE. Cloud and Vincent didn't exactly do partying. They'd already had their fair share of trick-or-treaters come to the door, but when she opened the door she did a bit of a double take. Then she began to laugh.
"What's so funny?" Averia grumbled. "Come on, Aunt Tifa, stop laughing."
Tifa nodded and did her best to rein in her laughter. She had been expecting the girls to turn up on Halloween – the superhero community was fairly close-knit, after all – but she hadn't expected them to come dressed as their parents. Still, apart from their eyes, they were perfect little replicas of Lady Lightning and Ultrawoman.
"I'm a little surprised, that's all." She waved the family inside. "Come inside. We've got lots of candy, and I'm sure your parents could use a rest."
Averia nodded gravely. "Thank you." She paused. "You're our last stop, you know, and Aunt Vanille calculated that you give out more candy than anyone else in the city." She paused. "That's really cool."
"Your last stop?" Tifa looked past Averia to where Claire and Fang were holding what seemed to be fairly empty looking bags. "But you don't seem to have that much candy."
"Oh, they've got a lot of candy." Claire's eye twitched and Tifa braced herself. Usually, when Lady Lightning's eye twitched like that it meant lightning, a whole lot of lightning.
"Really/" Tifa tilted her head to one side as Diana and Averia ran past her to talk to the rest of AVALANCHE. "Mind explaining?"
Tifa listened carefully as Claire and Fang recounted Vanille's plan to her. She hadn't worked closely with Ultragirl, but she'd always known that the superhero was brilliant. This, however, was bordering on something a Saturday morning cartoon super villain would come up with.
"That's… crazy. Crazy, but brilliant." Tifa shook her head slowly. "And those bags actually work?"
Fang nodded. "So far. We haven't been sent to another dimension or anything yet."
"I see." Tifa took a step back. "Tell Vanille to give the professor a visit, I'm sure he'd like to talk with her about some possible applications."
"I'll do that." Fang nodded. "Oh, but we should get going." She looked past Tifa to find Diana in the middle of explaining the wonders of bringing fiery death to things with her heat vision to Yuffie while Averia seemed to be discussing the merits of a bigger, more extravagant cape with Vincent. "Kids, you know?"
Tifa chuckled. "Kids." She paused. "Your sure you won't stay? We'd be happy to have you…"
"No, it's okay." Fang grinned. "We've got to get back to the fortress before Vanille comes up with anything else, and then we're going to go visit my mother."
"I see." Tifa nodded. "Give her my regards then."
"I will." Fang smiled. "Oh, and just in case you wanted to know, Snow and Serah should be here with little Claire in about five minutes."
"Really?" Tifa laughed. "Superhuman vision?"
Fang nodded and waved to Diana and Averia. "Come on, girls get your candy now, we have to go."
X X X
Vanille waited patiently as the doors of the fortress opened. They were made out of materials that no one in the universe knew how to synthesise except for her. Even Fang or Claire would have a hard time breaking through them. Right now though, Vanille just wanted the doors to open faster. Her family was out there, her family and the candy.
"Aunt Vanille!" Diana shouted as she touched down and threw her arms around Vanille. Despite how young she was, Diana was always careful about her strength, but Vanille was one of the few people she could hug at full power without hurting them. "Tonight was awesome, and we got so much candy!" She grinned. "And I even got my heat vision too!" She fired a beam of it off, and Vanille calmly put one hand out to block the beam before it could burn a hole in anything.
"That's great, Diana." Vanille looked at her hand. Not bad. Diana's heat vision wasn't anywhere near hers or Fang's, but maybe in a few years…
Averia floated over. "Your plan was perfect." She nodded firmly. "And don't worry, we'll give you some of the candy, otherwise it wouldn't be fair."
Vanille had counted on exactly that. Fang and Claire had raised the girls well. According to Vanille's predictions, the girls would give her a full quarter of the haul with another quarter set aside for each of them, and the last quarter reserved for little Claire. She bit back a cackle. And the best thing about getting all the candy was that she hadn't had to lift a finger to get it. She'd just run the data through a few simulations and put together a program to plan out the route and boom – instant candy. Even better, she could just run the simulations again next year.
"That's very kind of you." Vanille chuckled as Fang and Claire drifted into the fortress. From the way they were scowling at her, they must have brought in quite a bit of candy. Fang met her gaze and gave her a dirty look before firing off a blast of her heat vision, which Vanille neatly sidestepped along with a small bolt of lightning from Claire. "Have fun tonight, you two?"
"Fun?" Claire growled as she lowered her bag to the ground. "We had to fly around with who knows how much candy the whole night. And what are we even going to do with several tonnes of candy?" She tipped the bag onto its side and Vanille started to salivate as pound after pound of candy spilled onto the ground. It was so beautiful.
"We could eat it, I guess." Vanille had to fight to maintain eye contact with Claire. Her superhuman senses could pick out the smells of so many different kinds of candy, and just the thought of eating them all… yes, let Fang and Claire think it was all for the kids. In truth, they were all working to get Vanille her candy.
"Vanille why are you laughing like that?" Fang asked. She paused and looked at Diana and Averia. "And why are you laughing with her?"
Vanille winced. She hadn't meant to laugh out loud, and she certainly hadn't meant to have Averia and Diana laugh along with her. "Never mind." She swallowed thickly. There was so much candy. "Anyway, I've been keeping track of the girls' physiology. They're a lot like us Fang, so they're going to need a much higher caloric intake than the average child. You've probably noticed it already, and remember we almost ate the matron out of house and home before I got my lab up and running. So I say, we just let them eat the candy. Besides, it's not like they can get cavities, and we could always help them too."
"I suppose." Fang sighed and looked at Diana who was hopping from foot to foot. "Yes, you can do it now."
And with that Diana took a flying leap right into the small mountain of candy.
A few moments passed.
"Averia," Claire said. "Can you go pull your sister out before she drowns in all that candy?"
Averia nodded. "Okay."
And as Averia dove into the candy in pursuit of her sister, Vanille quietly began to load her portion of the haul into another one of her specially designed bags. There was so much candy, and so much of it was hers. Perfect. Everything was falling into place.
"Vanille, you need to stop doing that. It's creepy." Claire frowned. "And I don't want the kids learning to cackle. People are going to think they're super villains not superheroes."
Oops. She probably should tone it down a little. But as she walked back to her lab with her bag of candy, Vanille couldn't stop herself from giving a little cackle under her breath. "Mwhahahaha… hahaha."
X X X
As always, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off of this.
Well, I had a lot of fun with this one. It's Halloween, and even if it isn't a big deal where I live, it's still fun to toss ideas around. Besides, after the most recent chapter of Whispers of the Gods, I needed something a little lighter to work on. Seriously, that chapter is probably the least happy thing that I've posted on this website (although some chapter of Wasteland come close).
Some people are probably wondering why I keep crossing over Ordinary Heroes and Superhero. The answer is two-fold. Part of me is amused by the fact that both stories have the word 'hero' in them (yes, I am easily amused). The other reason is that it's a lot of fun. Raising kids is hard enough – giving them super powers only makes it worse. And Vanille is the ultimate cool aunt. Not only is she fun and friendly, she's also a genius with access to the most advanced lab on the planet and all the cool toys that implies. Tifa, of course, would be the more sensible aunt, and I shudder to think of what would happen if Vanille and Yuffie had the girls for the day. For people wondering where little Claire (i.e., Serah and Snow's daughter) is, don't worry, she does exist in this cross over universe, I just haven't gotten around to her yet.
For those of you who were not aware, Fang, Lightning, Serah, Snow, and Vanille are from Final Fantasy XIII. AVALANCHE are from Final Fantasy VII.
As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.