Every doctor in Radium was spending a lot of time in what had been, until recently, a secret underground lair beneath my store. Other places had the space, but the Exemplars wanted to err on the side of more solid construction, in case of attack or breakout. It counted towards my community service, too. And I know for a fact every doctor was there because my OB-GYN had pulled me aside.
“I don’t care how prolific a killer you are, you are not supposed to run around fighting anything right now. You’re about to have a baby. You understand that, right? I don’t know how many superhero pregnancies you’ve overseen, but I’ve dealt with a dozen and this is a critical time. I’m grounding you.”
“You’re serious?” I asked. “Like, you think you can just ground me like a kid?”
“You’re acting like one. You’re over-confident in your knowledge and technology. If you knew what you were doing, you wouldn’t be running around like everything’s normal. Do you even know what you’re doing to your child every time you transform.” He indicated the Unicorn goddess form I was currently in. I didn’t even have a belly showing like this.
“I’m fine,” I said. I summoned a large meatball sandwich with fried cheese sticks inside it. “Hungry. Very hungry. Fine, though. Any preggo villains there need your help instead?”
He shook his head. “No. You get me all to yourself.”
I teleported over to Medusa. “How’s it going?”
She was overseeing a rehab therapist working with one of the released prisoners. Months of not moving left him weak. He couldn’t even stand on his own, so was being helped with a harness. The therapist was cheerleading him on. “You’re doing good. We’ll have those muscles back in no time. Nothing good ever comes easy, right?”
“Bullshit!” he yelled. The villain grunted at the exertion of just standing.
“The main thing is making them trust us,” Medusa told me. My girlfriend and former nemesis had been behind the rejuvenation of Radium as a town full of superheroes and villains living in secret and in peace. A way for those with powers to be able to rest and get out of the fight. It probably sounds weird, and it’s definitely privileged. After all, regular criminals don’t usually get a chance at something like this. But it’s easy, when you have superpowers, to get caught up in stuff. Someone wants your power. Other criminals, governments, monsters.
“You know, if we don’t give them the option to go out and keep doing their thing, we’re just as bad as what we stopped, right?” I asked.
Medusa sighed. “Yeah, but you have to give people a chance.” She smiled, looking at me. “When it works, it’s amazing. How’s Unique?”
I raised a hand and projected a bunch of images. “So far, it’s still here.” I had a still in there from Bill Of Rights being arrested. It was done in Unique to be all official and signal that the town was independent of him. It would survive even if one of the big funders and personalities behind it. Dr. Snugglesworth was also stepping down, divesting stuff, handing over patents, etc. He handed over Bill and he was turning himself in for his own role in what happened. There were opinion pieces and people ranting online about never trusting Unique, but at the same time the gap was being filled, quietly, by more heroes showing up. The internet was once again proving to not entirely be real life. I illustrated this with various texts and copies of leases, receipts, etc. They were renting and buying properties.
I finished another bite of my meatball and cheese stick sandwich before admitting, “Looks like people who are supposed to be all about justice and accountability are actually ok with a place submitting to both.”
“It’s a sign we’re right,” Medusa smiled, patting me on the shoulder. “Both of us, miss hero.”
“No, don’t deny it, Unicorn Woman,” Medusa teased. “You want to know what one of my first clues was that you were better than you thought you were?”
“My ability to shame y’all for trying to murder me?” I asked, remembering the time Shieldwall had a difference of opinion over executing me.
“Because when there’s a major threat to the world that you know about, you try to fight it. That’s your problem too, miss,” she poked me very gently in the belly. “The doctor’s right. Rest and relax. You’re not just taking care of yourself.”
“It’s a conspiracy,” I accused her. “Everyone wants me laid up.”
“Everyone wants you to get out of their business and take care of your own,” she answered. “You should listen. The world doesn’t always need Psychopomp Gecko to save it. But you’re about to have a baby that will need a mother.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s a conversation to be had here about the cost of having babies and how it keeps women at home,” I said. “I mean, I chose this, but not everyone does, and it takes a pretty heavy toll on your life when you don’t have superpowers and magical miniature machines. Or illegal revenue streams. You won’t believe what a bunch of the people I.. who died mysteriously had that they wanted to do. Lots of rapists and forced birthers and just monsters.”
Medusa leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, then whispered, “Nice save.” Then she pulled out receipt of her own. “Unique’s going to have an Exemplar station, too. If you’re bored, we could use you consulting with a liason from that space Consortium of Grau to help us with portals. They think they can refine the technology we currently have to be less damaging to the universe. Something you can help us with from home.”
“You’re really trying to sell me on staying home,” I said with a grin.
There was a beep from her waist. Even though she’s homo machina, she still uses separate devices for communication and internet access and porn. She grabbed a thing that once might have been a smartphone.
“Ma’am, we’ve got an alien crustacean here who says he has an army of doppelgangers from other universes. He’s at the UN and says we should all surrender or he’s taking over.”
Medusa rolled her eyes. “I’m on it.” She turned to me. “Time for me to go to work. You stay here. I heard the doctor say you were grounded, miss. We’ve got this.”
I felt a little queasy at the moment, despite the delicious splendor of my fried cheese and meatball sandwich. “Fine. I think I need to go break a toilet between my thighs anyway.”
My girlfriend snorted and jogged off, already calling for a team to meet her with a Flyer and a suit of her power armor. Meanwhile, I started off toward the bathroom. I didn’t need to throw up, nor was I dizzy. At first. I became dizzy after a little bit, with a sudden migraine that felt like someone had driven a sword into my brain, except more painful because the brain doesn’t actually have its own pain nerves. I got myself out of the way and over to a wall. It felt like I was seeing things through two sets of eyes. I breathed through two noses, tastes two mouths. And then it felt like my body had been snapped together with a rubber band. I dropped the sandwich, which was a different sort of pain.
I stumbled and fell against a wall, careful not to hit my belly against it. I had a belly again. It was stretching my shiny Unicorn goddess outfit. I grabbed the wall, hooves scrabbling against the floor for a second. I needed to take stock of myself. I knew I had a belly and hooves. My hair was still bright-colored. A quick nanomachine self-diagnostic showed there were changes, though. I went to the bathroom just to make sure. My face, my eyes, and the body I’d made for myself merged with the one I used for my Unicorn alias. The biggest problem was probably the penis, which is a rare phrase from me. I mean, I don’t want to brag about the size, given how much I can change it, but I had just gotten rid of it in anticipation of how close things are getting.
I tried that again. And I couldn’t. I couldn’t reach the remains of the godlike power I’d one had. I’d kept a little with me, like a hot core within me full of reality-warping energy. I could feel it like a distant heat source, but that was it. All I had left were all the superpowers I’d built into these two bodies that were, now, merged into one. I put my hands on my head, careful of the horn that, now, I’d have to surgically remove if I wanted to get rid of it. And then, feeling two bodies worth of digestive track having merged, I rushed to the toilet. Tip for regular humans out there: no toilet on Earth is built to accommodate a large pair of wings.
Just for good measure, I had the double-whammy: shitting and puking. And so much peeing, so a triple whammy. I couldn’t stop. Why wouldn’t it stop?!
I crawled out of there a ways, before hefting my way up off the floor and marching right out to see the OB-GYN, who was helping with some more basic medical checks on the rehabbing former prisoners. It took some work because I was weak. Even my flight, which didn’t rely on the wings, was acting up. The guy still knew how to do a physical, after all.
When he got the time to see me, that’s when I got the diagnosis: pregnancy-induced power incontinence. “It’s common when someone with superpowers gets pregnant. That’s one of the reasons you’re supposed to take it easy as things go along. Some people keep their powers the entire time, which can cause complications. Others lose them, which also causes complications.”
“So I’m grounded,” I admitted.
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