FDC presents "Hypothesis"
Major Tim Zanetti was a lot of things. A Father. A Husband. A Soldier.
Now he was something entirely different. He was a weapon of mass destruction, wrapped up in false flesh and radioactive bandages. He was barely a man at all. Constantly at odds with himself, he found his mind slipping further and further away from what he wanted to be and where he wanted to be.
He'd taken to hiding from the Government. He wanted to be away from the things that were hunting him. They had the power to rival him, only manifest in much more interesting and obscure ways, such as reshaping flesh, or transportation over huge distances.
He caught glimpses of himself in reflective surfaces, such as puddles, or the windows which he flew passed currently. A white body, covered in protective bandages to prevent the energy that threatened to break him apart from doing just that to the outside world. Every now and then the bandages would break into something different. A Shape, almost a logo. Like a lightning bolt that ran down his face, showing off some of his glowing, dangerous skin.
In his hiding, living behind a waterfall in perpetual noise with cave creatures that he never knew existed, Tim had taken more and more to the title and personality of Breach. Unstable, constantly decaying, in memory and physical form the way radioactive particles do. He wouldn't want to loose himself anymore, but he felt parts of himself trickling away with every breath.
All that would be left would be a portal to another realm, flesh and blood turned into temporal and spatial disturbances. He would be the man who went too far, literally and physically. He rubbed the side of his head as he realised, for the first time in the ten minutes he'd been flying that he was not in control of his actions.
His body was building, he knew that was well. Again his own self involvement and monologuing of how badly he felt about his situation and how he wished it was better, had become an overwhelming cliché and forced him into a situation where he didn't know what was going on. Didn't know the outcome.
Although, it appeared as though the outcome was coming towards him at a startling pace.
Yanked from his bed without warning, Ryan Choi went from blissful slumber to bewildered combatant in under sixty seconds. Ryan's bleary eyes tried to focus desperately before him, as he released that he was no longer in bed, and from the aching sensation in his jaw, and the large year down the front of his costume, which he hadn't been wearing previously,
“Wha?” He asked himself, as a silver fist tore through the air, hitting Ryan in the stomach and lifting him off the ground.
“Sorry!” She yelped, as her arm was pulled back, and Ryan flew backwards into a lamp-post.
“Oh...God,” He cradled his stomach, doubled over in pain. He'd not been hit like that in...ever.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” He asked, looking up at the woman who was apparently wearing lacy underwear and a bullet-shaped helmet with goggles on. She her a long, thin figure, and Ryan was somewhat conflicted for a moment. She was beautiful, in a metallic almost alien way.
“I am so sorry. I don't know what's happening. I think this is one of those Mind-Control things?” She yelped again, as she broke into a run towards Ryan. He got to his feet quickly, the pain in his stomach still very, very prominent, but his actions were not his own.
“Oh, I can sort of see your po..” Ryan didn't get to finish his sentence, as he awkwardly vaulted over the top of the woman's head, pressing a hand against her helmet to give himself some added boost.
“This is very odd. Don't you go Zombified when you're under mind control?” Ryan asked himself, twisting his head around without any orders from his brain to do so. He landed with a skid, unsure how he managed to judge where the ground was by looking directly away from it.
“I'm really not sure, I'm quite new to this superhero thing,” She said, skidding to a halt and turning around.
“Well, maybe it's something else. I'm pretty sure you need to be in some sembalance of a catatonic state in order to be used like...well, an engine.”
Within his mind, the neurons and synapses flickered with energy. Ryan was a scientist after all, and they made their trade working out the impossible. Ryan was there when they discovered Palmer's Bio-Belt. Ryan was there and added his own data and thoughts into the creation of the stabliser disk on his back. Ryan created his primary form of transportation that could grow and shrink with him.
Ryan was a Professor of Nuclear Physics, and still that mean't nothing as he found himself completely out of control.
His brain powered forwards. Mind control? This was something different. His mind didn't feel any different, and he hypothesised that mind control would render the original personality inert while the opposing one took control of the body. This was something else.
Higher frequency musculature manipulation? Perhaps someone was able to use radio-waves to trigger specific movements and contractions in muscle tone, although that made little sense. The reactions and movements were too quick. Unless the entire event was choreographed from a distance before hand, then it wouldn't be possible.
It then ruled out most other things. Unless there was a possibility of high-jacking a wireless frequency to control both Ryan and the woman remotely, it moved into the impossible realms of Magic, or theoretical science. In which case, Ryan hadn't a snowball's chance in Hell of thinking his way around the situation he currently found himself in.
Ryan ran forwards, as a huge ball of energy exploded into the street before them, and just like that, the silver woman fell limp to the ground.
Ryan wanted to run over and see if she was alright, but no sooner had he glanced in her direction, something was already crawling from the wreckage, as a blaze of fire shot through the sky.
Six minutes ago, Jason was on a date with a cute girl from his class. It had taken him eight weeks to work up the courage to ask her out, avoiding conversational points such as where he works, since he didn't want to divulge the fact he was working currently as a giant chicken outside a fast-food chain, or family, since his was broken and his Dad was probably never going to get over his anger problems.
What made him more annoyed was the fact that this girl actually appeared to like him. He'd been on dates before where the girl sat there and went through the motions, not really caring what Jason had to say, or listening to anything beyond the sound of her own voice, and stealing fries off his plate instead of eating her garden salad.
This was different. She was different. She did all the classic signs without meaning too. Touching and twirling her hair, making contact with him, just touching his fingers or something like that. He was certainly going to get another date out of it anyway, and now this -
Now he's tearing through the sky, completely out of control, unable to stop himself from denying the energy that was building in his chest. He knew it couldn't be anything good. His body was siphoning energy from the being below, the being who appeared to be made from fire, both burning bright orange, and pure white with intensity.
Jason swallowed loudly, mentally told himself it would be okay, despite the fact he had zero control of his body. His hands moved forwards of their own accord, his eyes flicking to the corners of their sockets, to eye the man below. He recognised the man, in blue and red.
“Atom?!” He asked, as a bolt of pure, nuclear power loosed itself from his finger tips, and hurtled towards the orange and white inferno below.
Alix never wanted to be a hero. She wanted to be a scientist and grow old with her husband. She wanted to have children with him, and to live out their lives learning and growing from each other. Instead, he had childish dreams of fame, power and immortality, which ironically cost him his life, and branded her a “hero”, by covering her in what they had spent years designing – invulnerable smart-skin.
She tried to pull herself together. Mere moments ago she was a puppet for some unknown force. Something was pulling her strings, preventing her from acting as herself. Now, it seemed, she had some degree of control in her actions. Having fallen over as though she were some cast aside action figure, Alix slowly, and unsteadily, got onto her knees, panting and holding her chest. If felt heavy, and hard.
She looked up, less than fifty metres away, she saw the glowing man hit the ground, and the Atom, try to avoid his attack. No sooner had that happened, then a young man, a man on fire, was hurling towards the pair.
She shook her head.
The Life of a hero was idiotic, and dangerous. She didn't want to get involved in this. She wanted to solve biological equations.
She sighed, rubbing a hand through her shock of red hair. She was always interested in why that was the only part of her not covered in metal.
Another shock wave shook the ground, as Alix dug her heels into the ground, preventing herself from being blown off her feet. The glowing man and the fire man where fighting. She covered her face with her forearm, as fragments of building bombarded her body, tearing her costume and scuffing her skin.
They exchanged energy from their fists and hands as though it were nothing. Less than nothing in fact. It was almost as if they were conversing with each other.
“Hey,” came a tiny voice from Alix's arm. She pulled it towards her, to find the Atom clinging to her palm, his costume torn to shreds from pieces of shrapnel, “Little help?” He asked, as Alix shielded him with her hand.
“I think we've met before,” She said, quietly. Looking down at him. He offered her a weak smile as he pulled a tiny piece of metal from his chest with a wince.
“I don't think we have, actually,” Ryan said after staring at her face blankly for a second or two, until another explosion rocked them both, and showered them in debris and dust.
“Oh,” Alix said, looking away from him. If they still could, her cheeks would have flushed with blood. She was new to the scene, but she was sure that she'd met Ryan before.
“I was on the JLA, or at least a version of the JLA, with Jason over there,” She said, pointing towards the Firestorm, exploding against Breach, their hands interlocked with each other, teeth grit in a carnal, if not cliched looking battle.
Ivy Town was his town. It was his responsibility. Even though it was being torn to shreds by...who knew what, it was still his town to protect. It was up to him to defeat these...things that were destroying the beautiful mixture of modern architecture and post-industrial housing and design that made up much of Ivy towns confusing and unique streets.
He pulled his cowl over his head and sighed to himself, doing his usual of muttering a self-aware “prayer” to Darwin or Watts in the hopes that they'd offer something to protect him from the obviously insane situation that was taking place before him.
He charged forwards, calling upon the abilities of his size-changing belt. The item that gave him the unique powers that had allowed him to not only be a core member of the Justice League, but also make him reliable and insightful into the world of micro-organisms and particles.
Right now he was choosing a skill set that was more than a little rusty. Something he'd only dabbled with in the past. Something that was still deeply unstable, a concept that was in it's infancy.
His size shifted upwards, as Ray Palmer, the Atom, shot towards Human sized and beyond. His knuckles cracked as they grew larger, as he flexed his hand into a fist, driving it downwards into Firestorm and Breach, knocking them into the pavement. His fist's size didn't stop there, by the time it had finished growing, Palmer was nearly 50 feet tall with a fist the size of a small car.
He knew it wasn't enough. He could feel it brewing underneath him. The power of those two was incredible. Otherworldly, almost.
Pulling his other hand upwards, and flattening it out, he drove it into the pavement and dragged it backwards, separating Firestorm from Breach, and pinning them in their respective corners. He knew it wouldn't last long.
“Atom? Please! Help me! I can't control myself!” Firestorm screamed. It was only then that Ray realised it wasn't the Firestorm he knew from the Justice League. It wasn't Ronnie, it was someone else. Someone with a red face and glowing white eyes.
“Firestorm?” he asked, tentatively.
“Of course it's Firestorm, Atom!” Jason yelled, as the energy continued to building around him. Windows that hadn't been shattered were melting, as the softer alloys around the city, in the form of lamp-posts and parking meters began to melt down into slag.
“Do Something!” Jason yelled. Palmer's brow furrowed as he desperately tried to think of something to stop Firestorm.
“Firestom, or whoever you are. Hold on, this isn't going to be terribly scientific...” Ray said, yanking Firestorm from the ground and pitching him into the upper atmosphere as though he were a burning baseball.
“You're right, that wasn't very Scientific, Ray,” Ryan said, leaping from the charging Bulleteer's hand and growing to his normal human size. He landed awkwardly, and stumbled a little. After glancing around in embarrassment, Ryan straightened himself up, and avoided looking at Alix, who was clearly affording herself a little humour in an otherwise humourless situation.
“Do I know you?” Ray asked, shrinking down in size a little, his eyes clocking onto the costume Ryan wore. He offered a cheeky smile in the corner of his mouth.
“A fan?” Ray asked, as the option that Ryan was a cosplayer entered his mind.
“Something like that,” Ryan said, with an equally wry smile on his face, “It's me. Ryan,”
Ray looked somewhat awkwardly, his fist still pinning Breach into the pavement, as bursts of light occasionally shot through between his fingers. The exertion was starting to show on Ray's face.
“Perhaps now isn't the best time for an introduction, Ryan,” Ray said, his teeth beginning to grind against each other.
“It's not an introduction if we already know each other, Ray,” Irritation spiked in Ryan's voice and tone.
“I'm sorry, Ryan, but I've never met you before in my life. I don't know any Ryan's outside of Costume, or in costume, either. Would you mind allowing me to continue, Grnnf!” Ray's hand began to smoke as he pulled it away from the crater he'd created. The costume around his finger's had burnt away, leaving nothing but slightly charred flesh.
“Ray!” Ryan yelled, as Breach slowly pulled himself from the pit.
“I'd tell you that I'm not in control of my actions, but honestly, nobody believes me,” Breach muttered, his hands levelling off at Ray's chest.
“Damnit!” Ryan yelled, as he leapt forwards, shifting his size downwards, but maintaining all of his mass, as he ploughed into Breaches throat, knocking the pair of them off balance.
“How did he?” Ray asked, shrinking down to normal size, holding his burnt hand at the wrist. Alix grabbed hold of his shoulder and pulled him towards some shelter, in the form of a semi-collapsed shop front.
“Here's my basic hypothesis, Doctor Palmer. Myself, Firestorm, the orange and white man over there, and the Atom currently fighting the former are from alternate realities. Either the same one, or from different realities. We appear to have been plucked from said reality by an unknown force, who is making us fight each other,” There was a heavy lace of cynicism to her voice, as though she couldn't entirely believe herself.
“Hrm. That explains a lot, actually,” Ray said, casting a glance back to Ryan who was throwing another blow into Breach's stomach.
“How did it happen?” He asked, looking back at Alix. She shook her head.
“No idea. I was just going about my daily business, and suddenly I am here, fighting Ryan, not in control of my body,” She shook her head and removed her helmet, looking at it as though it were a foreign object.
Ryan's body was shot backwards by a burst of energy released from Breach's hand. He hit the corner of a building with the centre of his back, and bounced into some debris that had settled just underneath it.
“Well, it looks like this white and orange guy is a favourite to win this little fight,” Alix said to Ray, as he began to walk towards them. She replaced her helmet and swallowed loudly.
“I was on the JLA for about twenty five minutes,” She admitted, looking to Ray for some support. He looked a bit shocked, as though he questioned why someone like her would be involved in the Justice League when she was clearly very, very new to super heroic endeavours.
Then again, everyone in the League was at some point. They weren't all born seasoned warriors. Ray released his hand and touched two fingers against his size changing belt, preparing to shift downwards, until Alix's hand on his chest stopped him.
She looked concerned, worry flooding over her face.
“Do you hear that?” She asked, glancing around for the source of the noise. Ray's senses weren't focused on anything other than Breach making his way towards the pair of them. It wasn't until he relaxed his fixation that he realised that the ground was rumbling slightly.
It even caught the attention of Breach, who turned his head slowly. He caught a glimpse of something white and black tearing through the wreckage towards him.
“Wha?” Was all he could offer before the huge maw of the giant Dalmatian bore down on his face.
The jaws gripped and shook violently. Given the size of the huge dog, Breach was lifted off his feet and tossed into the side of a building, not far away.
The armoured man on the dogs back dropped off onto the ground, offering a salute to Alix and Ray.
He glanced around, embarrassed under his helmet.
Alix coughed into her hand.
“Not under your own control are you?” She asked, a slightly smile in the corner of her mouth.
“No, not really,” Came the response. The rest of the knights stopped. The female knight, and another male dropped off their steeds and stood either side of the first knight.
“My name is Gardener Grayle,” He began, lifting the visor of his helmet upwards. He offered a weak smile, before he turned on his heels unexpectedly and heaved himself back onto his Dalmatian steed.
“It appears as though whatever force is controlling us isn't quite done, yet,” He said, lurching backwards as his ride pulled away, breaking into a run towards where Breach was slowly getting to his feet.
“Charge?” Gardner said, not really sure of himself, as the Dogs leapt forwards, their paws pushing down on Breach together. Their jaws and claws slashed and nipped against his exposed skin. The white tape that prevented his hazardous orange skin from dissolving organic matter, and exuding short-term radiation.
A burst of energy removed Gardner's steeds head, the body dropped forwards, limp and without any life within it's bones. Gardner toppled off, and rolled a few feet into some rubble. Breach pulled his arms to his side, bent at the elbow, energy building in his body again.
Another burst of energy knocked the female knight from her ride, and slammed her into the ground.
“Marene!” Gardner yelled, as he leapt over the rubble before him.
“Doug!” He yelled towards Marene's brother, who was already off his steed and leaping through the air towards Breach, tackling him around the waist and throwing him into the ground. Glowing white blood hit the ground as the armoured man's fist split Breach's lip wide open, as more of the luminescent fluid leaked from his fracture nose.
“If my sisters hurt,” Doug's sentence trailed off as he landed another blow to Breach's head, before the former military career man managed to loose his assailant with a burst of glowing energy released directly from his core.
Doug flew into the air, hitting another member of the Six strong Atomic Knights from his steed.
“Are you struggling to follow what's going on,” Alix asked, Palmer, who was already running towards his fallen legacy.
Casting quick glances over his shoulder at the Atomic Knights landing blow after blow against Breach and knocking him back into the rubble, he raced towards Ryan, who was slowly coming round after the blow to his back.
“Whuh,” Ryan exhaled, as he looked up at Palmer.
“We've not met before, or at least, I've not met you,” Ray said, offering a hand to Ryan and crouching down.
“The silver woman explained it all to me,” Ray began, as Ryan continued to look dazed and confused.
“Oh. Does that mean you can explain it to me?” Ryan asked, slowly getting to his feet and touching his belt to allow him to move back to his normal size.
“Interesting belt,” Ray said, gesturing towards the slightly different design on Ryan's belt to his own.
“Yeah, though you designed it. It's your spare belt,” Ryan began, but he stopped quickly afterwards examining Ray's face, “Only it isn't your spare, is it?”
Ray shook his head, stepping closed as Ryan whipped it off and handed it over to the Professor.
“This doesn't appear to have any of the standard operational buttons, or even slits that I use, or used to use on my white dwarf belt,” Ray began, as both their attention was caught by an explosion, and an on-coming cloud of dust that washed over the pair of them.
Ryan coughed into his fist, as Ray covered his own face with a hand, leaning towards Ryan to give him his belt back.
“I think this warrants further investigation, but honestly, I don't see that happening now. We need to stop that walking nuclear bomb over there,” Ray made his way towards a small ridge of collected debris, and waved for Ryan to follow him.
As he looked over the rubble, he saw the Atomic Knights, all six of them, laying in a heap around Breach, who was completely stripped of his white containment fibres now, leaving only a glowing, orange body.
Their attention was caught by fragments of a rooftop crumbling in their peripheral vision. Slowly but surely a figure emerged on the precipice. It wasn't a figure either of the men recognised. Ray shot Ryan a sideways glance to see if he had any idea who the man was, but Ryan looked just as mystified as Ray.
“You are, of course, joking,” Palmer said, deadpan as a semi-autonomous man leapt from the rooftop, his feet flying towards the glowing white and orange individual before him. The figure, as it landed, crushing Breach beneath it's massive feet, turned to look at Ryan and Ray.
It was an odd looking entity. Blue in colour, as though it had selective sections of it's body armoured up, such as the shoulders, the shins and the fore-arms, with red flashing on the underneath, and on the unprotected areas. The most striking feature of the design, was the division of the jaw from the rest of the head, with thick lines separating it from the clearly humanoid face, and the large, stiff, metallic mohawk that sprung from it's head, unmoving.
“Strength,” It said to itself, as it's mighty fist crashed into Breaches face, pulling back quickly with a trail of glowing blood bridging the gap between the knuckles and the majors nose.
“Speed?” He asked him, as a burst of energy avoided him, his reactions too quick. A smile spread over his face, as he lifted Breach out of the indentation and threw him into the side of a building and subsequently through it.
He landed inside the abandonded and destroyed bakery, and rolled into the large oven.
“One Man Army Corps,” The mohawked figure said, as he leapt away again, his smile growing wider. Ray gave Ryan a look of confusion.
“What the hell just happened,” Ryan asked, his jaw slack. Ray shook his head, as the pair of Atom's tenatively made their way towards where Breach had landed.
“What was really odd,” Ray said in a low whisper to Ryan. The Asian scientist nodded, as they both peeked their heads over the broken wall where Breach had landed, and simultaniously let loose a sigh of relief.
He was gone.
A hole was burned through the floor, which lead to God knows where, but that was fine. So long as he wasn't around to destroy Ivy Town anymore.
“Maybe he got released, the way I did, and the Silver Lady did,”
“Bulleteer,” Ray corrected. Ryan nodded slowly.
“Maybe he wasn't controlled in the first place,” Ray offered, with an absent minded stare into the distance. Ryan waited half a minute, to allow Ray to process everything before he continued.
“What now then?” He asked, quietly. Ray scratched at his chin, and cracked his back.
“Well, I would imagine we need to find a place for you people to stay, be that long term or short term,” Ray said, putting his hands on his hips and shooting a look at Ryan's belt.
“And I want to look at that as well, Ryan. That isn't a White Dwarf lens. That's something else entirely.”
Ryan nodded, and opened his mouth, trying to find the right way to ask the question.
“Back in Ivy Town, my Ivy Town, I was professor of Nuclear Physics at the University. Do you think that...I might be able to apply for my job here?” Ryan asked, finally. Ray paused for a second, before his face lit up with a smile.
Perhaps having two Atom's in Ivy Town, and working for the same university might take some pressure off him. It might also be nice, a novel experience for someone like Ray.
“I have some connections in the University, so maybe I can pull a few strings for you,” Ray said.
Ryan offered a weak smile, and move his hand into Ray's, giving a firm shake.
“Thanks Ray, but if it's all the same, I'd rather try and do it on the merits of my own ability rather than you looking out for me,” Ryan hoped he didn't offend his mentor. Even though this Ray wasn't actually his mentor. Or even knew who he was.
Ray took a moment before nodding.
“Okay, I can appreciate that. In your position I wouldn't want hand outs either. Maybe we have more in common than just the costumes?” He asked, a smirk tugging at the corner of his face.
Ryan responded with another smile, and let his arms hang loose.
“What about the others? Bulleteer and Firestorm?” Ryan questioned, as they made their way towards a less devastated area of town. Ray noticed that the Atomic Knight's had left as well. The only remnants that they had even been at the scene, was the corpse of the decapitated Dog steed that lay at the centre of what appeared to be a tiny explosion.
Ryan pulled his cowl down and ran a hand through his hair, finding it all somewhat over whelming.
“Man, as if this happened. Today. I mean, it's insane isn't it? We came from a different world and we've destroyed Ivy Town with fighting we didn't even want to take part in,”
“And defeats we didn't want to take part in,” Bulleteer said, walking in behind the two Atoms, with a young African American man in tow.
“Hi,” he said, offering a curt wave towards the others.
“This is Firestorm,” Alix said, offering an awkward gesture with her arm towards him, she was carrying her helmet in the crook of her arm and elbow against her side.
“Uh, we've decided it might be a good idea to stay together,” He began. Ray nodded.
“I agree, Ryan and I were just talking about him applying for a job here at Ivy,” Alix smiled, a shy smile.
“Maybe I could apply as well,” She said, “My Husb..Late-Husband and I were scientists in biology, and biotechnology. Hence the skin,”
“Uh, you can call me Jason,” Firestorm said, “And...I'm going to stay here as well. I think it's probably a good idea for us to stay together.”
He eyed Alix a little from the corner of his eye.
“Although some of us clearly know more about each other than others do,” He said. Alix had revealed that the pair of them had been on a very short livid Justice League together. However, he didn't remember being in any Justice League or even meeting her.
“I've got to say, I don't think I've ever met either of you before,” Ryan said, “Though that doesn't mean I haven't heard of you.”
“Have you heard of me?” Jason asked, inquisitive.
“Uh, No. Not off the top of my head,” Ryan replied, which visibly deflated Jason.
“Well, this is all good and well,” Ray began, “But we need to try and clear some of this up. The authorities will be here soon, and they're not going to be best pleased if we're stood around talking.”
The others nodded, and slowly began to begin picking up smaller pieces of rubble, although Jason just stood their for a moment, watching, wondering to himself.
Where the hell were they going to go from here?
Writers Conclusion: So, here begins my reign of terror in FDC on the Atom. As you can see I've chosen a crop of great characters to utterly destroy in my quest to annoy everyone in Fanfic. In all honesty though, I've been looking to do an Atom series for some time. It all just clicked together for FDC. They wanted new people to come in and write, Tony introduced me to the concept they're rolling out, Dangerous Toys, which is an AWESOME idea.
As I say, it all clicked into place for Ryan Choi and Ray Palmer. Two tiny heroes, in a weird, weird town, with some odd, odd people inhabiting it. Wait until you see what I have planned for issue #1!