All You Can Absorb

Summary:
January 29, 2015: A violent misunderstanding regarding the sample policies of every restaurant at the Queens Center food court leads to a brawl.

Queens Center Mall, Queens, New York City

Capitalism, y'all.


Characters

NPCs

  • Absorbing Man

Mood Music:

FIVE MINUTES AGO

A trenchcoat clad Ben Grimm warily places a pieces of food court sushi on his tongue, mean mugging the chef on the other side of the bar the entire time— just so that it's clear how little he trusts this situation that he's allowed himself to fall into. When he closes his mouth and begins chewing - slowly, deliberately - he maintains eye contact, craggy brows shifting thoughtfully as he analyzes the mix textures and flavors. The chef swallows hard, well before Ben does.

When the bite is finally gone, he gives it a second or two more before finally declaring, "Eh, 'salright, I guess," with a shrug. "Could use a little tartar sauce, mebbe a squirt'a lemon." Beat. "Gimme five rolls."

As the faintly bemused chef gets to work on cutting and rolling, the sound of clattering metal starts to cut through the sounds of chatting and consumption. A hulking mound of a man - also trenchcoat clad, but sporting bright purple pants and nothing else underneath as opposed to Ben's— well, dark blue unstable molecular trousers and nothing else - stalks towards the court with a heavy iron ball and chain draped over his shoulder. He's bald, he's got a five o'clock shadow, and he's hungry.

"GIMME ONE'A EVERYTHING!" he demands once he's in earshot of some of the restaurants. He then starts running into the central dining area while swinging the ball and chain overhead; thanks to the proclamation, Ben turns in time to see this, but when the ball and chain are ultimately hurled towards a Nathan's, he can't make it over there in time to stop it.

As the ball crashes through the Nathan's sign and sends the employees scurrying to avoid being crushed beneath falling debris, Ben halts his brief run to drop into a three-point stance, then whips his coat off as he rises and turns towards the invader, who is still running full tilt into the food court, upending tables and scattering diners the whole way. "Baldy, I dunno if you got a low blood sugar thing goin' or what, but I know one thing:"

"IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!"

NOW

The Thing sails through a first story JCPenney display for a good few dozen feet before finally crashing through the roof of an Escalade in an outdoor parking lot. The Absorbing Man - who is, at this moment, covered from head to toe in orange pebbles - stampedes through the hole, trailing a few garments and mannequins behind himself.

"NOBODY ASKED YOU TO BUTT INTO MY DINNER PLANS!" he roars, pausing briefly once he's in the night air to see where, exactly, the rock-plated hero landed. "Whichever one had the best food, I was gonna pay em! Fair and square! This is AMERICA, ain't it?! LAND'A THE FREE SAMPLES?! ALL I WANTED WAS MY FREE GODDAMN SAMPLES!"

So far, the many civilians who were innocently shopping or eating mall food before these giant boulder men started pounding on one another are pretty evenly split between running the hell away and trying to negotiate a safe distance for gawking; smartphones are already on and filming, and now tha the brawl has spilled outside, more are coming out.


Cricket doesn't normally visit malls. The clothing one finds there is so.. well, mass manufactured. And no designer labels! Still, JARVIS is insisting. He's having far too much fun having a physical body, even if it is hers, and wants to experience everything before he has to go back to being just a disembodied voice that permeates the Stark Tower, the Stark Mansion, the Stark body armors… you get the point.

"Jarvis, I am *not* putting that on. Because it has polyester, that's why! I don't care if you like the colours!" The look on Cricket's face as she argues, apparently with herself is one of extreme annoyance. And then there comes the yelling. With a sigh of relief, she hangs the shirt back on the rack. "Thank heavens. Something to distract you. No, leave my cannons alone."


Above Ben, a loud engine whine lowers to a hum as the bright white exterior of the Fantasticar shimmers in the moonlight. One long, thin mass of blue and black leaps from the top, followed by another. In a mere moment, Reed Richards pulls his legs back into a normal length as he stands next to the vehicle on which his friend is perched.

"Well," Reed says as he's punching something into a handheld device absently. "I got your message." Reed's voice is calm and a clear attempt at cutting through the intensity of the situation. "It looks like you were right. You definitely could use some help."Reed tilts his head towards Ben, "What sort of thing are we looking at?"

Even as he asks, Reed is already headed towards the mall, through the JC Penney's entrance of course. The most direct route to the spot in question.


Cameron Tenoaks had been invited to dinner with her Mom, Maria Tenoaks, in this unlikely location over in Queens. Every so often, someone in the food court will take a semi-subtle picture of her with their smartphone as she sits there, pretty much a statuesque bright - orange - haired island of isolation in the middle of normality.

Of course, that illusion was shattered by the ten trays of food she had set around her. Apparently, some girls… just want to have lunch. Or dinner… or something…

Then there is yelling. And the start of fighting. For the first part of the fracas, she'd remained almost aloof, performing a culinary triage on the food in front of her to eat the most expensive items as things started to become a bit more heated. It's that Thing guy from the Fantastic Four… and someone that looks like they're taking on properties whatever they're hitting.

Then the chunk of masonry lands smack dab in the middle of her remaining food, causing a delicatastrophic cascade to shower around and on her.

There's a beat.

And then the nearest chair is sent flying at the back of Purple Pants Guy — who is NOT the Hulk, thank goodness!

"STOP IT!"

Columbia doesn't get loud very often, but… this time… she has cause.

Even as some soup dribbles off her sweater.


Kim wasn't exactly stopping by the mall out of -choice-, so much as necessity. She's still getting used to the whole super heroing and secret identity 'biz', and isn't quite sure how people manage to switch from clothes to costume, and then like… get their clothes back. She's pretty sure a couple of her favorite shirts are in NYPD evidence lockers and like, that's like the -moon-. So she's totally in JC Penny, just about to grab up some cheap off-the-rack t-shirts, and maybe a pair of jeans… and then like, there's yelilng, and a giant orange guy/boulder smashing through the… no! The -jeeeeeans!!- But… hey.. like, she's got her costume nearby! Bag is hefted, and t-shirts grabbed.

It's a quick run into the changing rooms, and some rapid changing, and shoving shirts into her bag… like, no one's going to notice. Clearly they were destroyed by the super hero fight. And then she's frowning… can't skate out of the changing rooms. That'd be like… totally obvious! So she smacks the nearest fire exit open, skating around the outside of the mall in costume, dodging around fleeing civilians, and yelling out, "Uhhh… please panic in an orderly manner! Run -away- from the crazy guy big guy! Not the crazy-big guy who's orange! I think he's good! The guy who's big, but also -ACTUALLY- crazy!!" And shen she's getting nearer to… well, where she started.

She really needs like… some sorta script writer for her banter. She'll have to check into that. Right now, someone needs a thorough bludgeoning! Just what Velocity Dash is… kinda almost okay at.


"I didn't— " Thing grumbles as he rocks back and forth in the remnants of the Escalade like a five hundred pound turtle. "— I don't need— any friggin' help— what I said was— hey!"

Of course Reed's moving on.

Ben manages to flip himself off of the roof and land on all fours beside the vehicle. The movement tips the vehicle onto its right side tires, where it just sort of casts a long, looming shadow across him for a couple of seconds before finally slamming back down.

"'s right ya don't want none," Thing mutters, dropping the fist he had raised in case the car tipped the other way. Hopefully, the owner has superbrawl insurance; either way, it's not really Thing's problem, because he takes off running towards the store and the super-villain without giving it another thought.

Speaking of the super-villain: a chair snaps into a dozen pieces after crashing into his back. It doesn't hurt, really, but he still does a sharp 180 to try and figure out who threw it.

"WHO THREW THAT?!" he bellows, gripping his now orange-plated chain that leads to a big, orange boulder. "WHICH ONE'A YOU DEAD MOTHERFUCKERS THREW THAT?!"

See?

Instead of waiting for a response, though, he sharply twists his hips around to hurl his boulder and chain in the chair-thrower's general direction, confident that that'll teach them not to mess with him.

"THAT'LL TEACH YOU NOT T'—" he begins to roar before finally hearing the approaching Fantasticar's engines. Since he just threw his best weapon away, he reaches back for the armless mannequin dangling from his waist by a scarf and throws it in the car's general direction.

One of the civilians who Velocity Dash is dutifully trying to cajole to safety complies by glancing towards Creel, then at her, and then running.

Like five more pull their cameras out and start pointing them at her, though.

New Yorkers, man.


With a sigh of exasperation, Cricket walks non-chalantly towards the mayhem. She dodges the panicking people as they flee to get away from the chaos, but almost preternatually calm. Well, robotically calm. She looks down at the floor below and takes off her Prada pumps. "If someone steals these, I'm not going to be happy," she says to no one in particular. "Yes, Jarvis, even if it does mean I get to go on another shopping spree. Is this how you talk to Mr. Stark? Because it's really very irksome. I can't believe I had a crush on you!" Her shoes and jacket removed, Cricket leaps over the railing. The soles of her feet flare with light as she slowly descends to the ground. A laser cannon pops out of her right arm. "I said leave that alone," she tells the other AI in her head.


"Right," Reed says as he looks up from the datapad and towards the huge adversary, who just happens to be flinging a mannequin up at the Fantasticar. "Just a second, Ben." As the mannequin hurtles towards the priceless piece of machinery, Reed presses a button on the small computer in his hands. Immediately the Fantasticar banks hard left and barely avoids the mannequin.

"This is fascinating," Reed says, not really sure if Ben is listening, but he doesn't let that stop him. "The torque he generates to throw that ball is immense. I'm currently scanning the known files of the SRD, the police, the military, and any other pertinent information sources to see if I cannot identify this behemoth, and deduce a strategy."


Columbia's not really a huge talker. In fact, half the smack - talk that supers toss around is completely lost on her. But her opponent has made crucial mistakes, and that was endangering the folks here in this mall as well as throwing his weapon at her. Most folks would duck, or attempt to deflect or otherwise not BE THERE when such a projectile hit.

The orange - haired woman is a bit more durable than most folks as she catches the thing like a medicine ball and ironically absorbs most of the momentum… well… sort of. Her feet go skidding backwards into the floor, causing a huge divot in it to rise up as foundation and tile go flying everywhere, leaving her about three feet in the floor.

But she has the chain, and the ball… and she's got a horrible idea.

One might think that she's winging the thing back at Creel's head… well… they'd be partially right. Certain regions of anatomy just don't react well to blunt force trauma, and if this thing is as heavy as the divot behind her… that's gonna leave a mark… and maybe raise the thug's voice a few octaves.

She gives the item a second or two in flight before yelling "CATCH!"

She's banking on the fact that most folks reach around with their hands when they try to catch something…


Velocity Dash lets out a distorted grumble as she sees the cameras coming out. Aaaand… well, with a quick glance around, it seems like the real heroes with the flying cars and the team names and the big building are handling things! So she kinda mugs for the crowd a bit, y'know, just a couple of dynamic poses!

and then she's hearing a loud cry of 'CATCH!' and she's turning in time to see… oh… oh -that's- gonna hurt! She's halfway into a sympathetic wince while that ball is still flying through the air. Thank goodness her helmet covers her face. She doesn't want people thinking she's soft on villains! Still, that's a pretty good idea. Throwing stuff. And she's pretty fast… and… then there's a ding and a lightbulb above her head!

Velocity Dash zips off into the parking lot, which is A) Away from big angry huge dudes, and B) Towards a readily available supply of hubcaps. She always thought if you threw one really fast it'd do some damage. It's not vandalism if she's -heroic-…


The subject is Crusher Creel, AKA the Absorbing Man, AKA a billion time loser. The source of his powers is unknown, but his capabilities have been fairly well documented by the SRD at this point:

  • Mimicking the physical properties of matter via touch.
  • Mass alteration.
  • Enhanced strength and durability(dependant on absorbed material properties).
  • Being dumber than a sack of rocks(independant of absorbed material properties).

"The bastard's copyin' my powers, is what you're lookin' at!" Ben helpfully bellows while Reed studies his data. "All'a the clobberin', none'a the charm!"

Indeed, if someone were to point an appropriately sophisticated piece of scanning equipment his way, they might see that on top of sharing Ben's beautiful orange complexion, he's seething with the same cosmic radiation as the Fantastic curmudgeon.

"I been tryin' ta tell 'im," Thing continues as he closes in on Creel - who by that point is twitching agitatedly in place to try and keep up with the flying car, flying person, and rock monster closing in from various sides - "it don't matter how big'n bad ya are! Y' throw down with Mama Grimm's baby boy, an'— "

*WHAM!*

Creel snaps towards the biggest of the incoming threats with a backhanded punch that sends Thing arcing away, and while he isn't on a collision course with the Fantasticar, there's a good chance he'll clip it if Reed isn't careful.

"LOOK!" Creel shouts afterwards, his whole body creaking as he visibly shoots up another couple of inches. "I JUST— WHAT?! Catch //WH— //"

He starts to bring his hands up, but the boulder slams right into stones before he even knows what he's supposed to catch and his eyes nearly bulge out of his orange-plated face. A bellow of unmitigated pain shakes the mall, and he heavily stumbles backwards for a few feet before crashing to his seat.

Before he can even think about picking himself back up, a hubcap zips his way, biting shallowly into a rocky pectoral in the blink of an eye. "OW!" he roars as he yanks the thing free and wings towards Cricket/JARVIS. Some of the orange pebbles around the fresh crack in his chest ripple before taking on a shiny chrome finish.


Cricket is trying to be helpful, but between her own AI and that of JARVIS that are currently in her head, it would seem she can't decide exactly how to go about the matter. She wants to play support for the Fantastic Four who clearly have this mostly under control. Heck, Mr. Fantastic is already hacking into the computer files ahead of her. Which she would have done already if Jarvis wasn't trying to get in the fight and playing with her weaponry. She looks almost comical as she stands there, weapons popping in and out of her body as the two AI's wrestle for control over the single body they are currently forced to share. "That's IT! I'm telling Miss Potts that this arrangement is NOT working. Stop it!"

Cricket/JARVIS are actually lucky that they are fighting over her ordinance at the moment as the pair blast away the hubcap. Cricket gives a grudging look to no one in particular. "Fine, thank you. Now can you please let me control my own body for this. We're making a spectacle of ourselves."


Reed rubs the bit of stubble forming on his chin with his forefinger as he thinks deeply about the present problem at hand. There are a hundred different options, and none of them seem like slam d—-WHOA, incoming THING.

The Fantasticar dips out of the way again, but Reed is kind enough to fire a tether cable in an attempt to try and catch Ben before something really bad happens to him.

—and none of them seem like slam dunks. Looks like the old scientific strategy of trial and error might be the best bet here.

"Perhaps a subatomic carbonite coagulant might do the trick," Reed says mostly to himself as he leans against a fixture of long sleeved hoodie sweatshirts. Above, through the giant hole, the Fantasticar beckons to Reed's call, squirting out an ashen color liquid off towards Creel in thick wads. Upon impact, the sticky liquid will dry out into a hardened and extremely strong foam.


The paramedic from Metropolis strides forwards, picking up the offending chunk of masonry that destroyed her dinner.

"You know HOW MUCH dinner was? DO YOU?"

It's more the thought that counts as she wings the building piece at the back of the head of the now seated Creel, cracking her neck a bit.

"Hard t' afford eating when YOU — !!"

Whether or not her debris will impact the enveloping medium is uncertain, all she knows is that this moron was responsible for disrupting her dinnner with his rants over his free food, and this mess is *his* fault.

There may be a few more pictures getting 'Angry Columbia' from bystanders.


Velocity Dash just sort of… stops. She freezes. Maybe her HUD in her helmet is broken? She's suffering shock, after her first real outing being the inferno in Central Park and this one being so much less panic-inducing? Nope. There's uncontrolled, hysterical laughter piping out of her helmet, her body hunching forward, one arm cross her stomach, the other pointing her magnetic grapple right at Creel like an accusing finger.

"Haaaahahaha! OHMYGOD!!! Did anyone record that?! Please tell me someone recorded that!!" She looks around for one of those jaded New Yorkers with a cell phone, "It… the… that… big… aaaaahhh! Right in his jibblies! The -JIBBLIES!!!-"

Of course, then it sinks in that A) Crusher Creel is known as a really tough guy. And he's probably kinda angry someone just hit him in the jibblies. Also, he absorbs stuff. Or like… becomes it? Whatever. She's just about to look around for like… A JELLO shipment, when the Fantasticar starts… well, okay, it's not like… lime jello, but hey, it's probably the closest sciency thing to it! She -knew- she was smart.

Still, she has a feeling Creel might get mad that she's totally laughing at him, so she zips around, making sure she's getting out of the line of fire… or at least, that she's not got anyone behind her who might get hit if whatever that science goop is doesn't do anything, and Creel gets all vindictive instead of picking on people his own size! …She really needs to like, meet some Daredevil bad guys. They fit through -doorways-. It'd be safer.


A tether whips through the sky, finding its way around one of the Thing's pillar-like ankles.

"STREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE— " Ben hollers once the tether runs out of slack and snaps him down down sharply enough to make his stomach queasy as he becomes a five hundred pound pendulum beneath the Fantasticar. "— EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETCH! LEMME DOWN! THIS'— "

Nearly every word that comes out of Ben's mouth over the following few seconds is unprintable, so let's just move on, secure in the knowledge that he probably doesn't actually mean any of those things.

"How come you keep talkin' to yourself?!" Creel shouts up at Cricket. He isn't quite feeling up to standing yet, so he's trying to get the rocky chain snaking off of the orange-plated boulder siting nearby wrapped around one hand while he nurses his injury with the other. Craggy as they are, his features are nonetheless full of anger and agony. "YOU THINK YOU'RE TOUGH, TALKIN' TO YOURSELF AND SHOOTIN' LASERS ALL OVER THE PLACE, LIKE I'M—"

Columbia's rage actually manages to interrupt his and draws his glare towards her, over his shoulder. "Whyddya think I wanted samp— hey!" The masonry explodes against his face and snaps his head back for a moment before he snaps it forward with a snarl.

"QUIT THROWIN' SHIT AT ME!" he hollers. Bracing his empty hand on the ground, he finally forces himself back to his feet while turning towards Columbia. He starts whipping the chain around, which sends mannequins, a couple of larger chunks of masonry, and other bits of debris flying in all directions as the boulder careens through them; he's preparing to take another shot at Columbia, but the wind-up runs a real risk of getting some poor bystander beaned by flying garbage.

Well before he can actually launch whatever attack he's intended, a stream of carbonite coagulant hits him from behind. Initially, this just gives him a new target to vent his rage on in the Fantasticar; given a few seconds of this treatment, though, the rapidly hardening build-up of goop begins to form globular, ashen masses around his feet. All the while, Creel himself seems to melt into the goop, his bellows of protest taking on a liquid warble as his skin becomes ashen, foamy, then fantastically tough.

Trapped as he is at the heart of the gooey heap, he can't do much with his newfound resilience but scream.

"— HELL IS THIS?! ALL I WANTED… WAS A GODDAMN… CONEY DOG!"

Meanwhile: One of the bystanders totally recorded the thing with the jibblies, so Velocity Dash can rest easy, once she isn't dealing with the side-effects of Creel's temper tantrum.


When Mr. Fantastic leans against the hoodies, Cricket smiles. A quick blast from her stocking'd feet (well, they have stockings from the ankle up, the rest are singed from her propulsion system) and she is at his side. "Dr. Reed, I have made the necessary contact with the SRD to deal with the detainment of Mr. Creel. Are you able to keep him immobilized till they arrive?" Her voice suddenly doesn't sound right coming from the little asian. It's male. And British. She shakes her head then and gets her voice back, grumbling. "JARVIS, so help me, I will cross wire your circuits with Dummy if you keep doing that."

Creel gets a sympathetic look from the attractive girl who is actually a robot. "You know, if all you wanted was something to eat, you could have asked." Sadly, his meals in the future will be provided to him in a prison cell.


"Right, uhm. Sorry Ben."

Reed presses another button on his datapad and slowly the tether begins to lower, eventually letting Grimm down in safety upon the ground. Meanwhile, Reed walks up towards Creel with an inspecting look upon his face as he inspects the angry, vanquished foe.

"I think the SRD is going to need some special instructions to keep you in tow, my good friend." Richards' face wrinkles as he looks to the damage to the Nathan's sign. "It'll take old Ida more than a few nickels to replace that, I suppose." His joke about the proprietor's wife who died 38 years ago and the former cost of the hot dogs probably goes over most of the people's heads.

Reed goes wobbly on his knees as Cricket takes him by surprise. "SRD? Well, yes, I suppose that should be fine." His neck turns abruptly as he looks for Ben.


Damager down, Damage Control begins.

Cameron gives the others a bit of a nod then starts moving around the crowd, looking for any injured that need medical attention. Thankfully, this time the damage to her outfit can be cleared up in a washing machine. Well, except for her shoes, but compared to her usual outing this is her nearly getting ahead.

She doesn't talk much during the process, focusing her attention on patients that need care, and if refused, she moves on to the next patient.


Velocity Dash slowly rolls up to Creel, standing in front of him, clearly staring at him incredulously through that unscrutable visor of hers. Arms cross, hips cock angrily and she shakes her head back and forth slowly. "Seriously dude? -DELIVERY-! Or, y'know, maybe don't be like… crushing up malls! Maybe if you asked -nice- they'd give you the food! Like… just… damn!"

She shakes her head again… and then realizes that like… oh man, all that -hero stuff- is done! Now there's gonna be cleanup and authorities and… no! She's not losing her bag! Not her new shirts! Not -again-!! And so she's zipping off to… save the day! Or totally grab her new t-shirts and… hmmm, actually, a coney dog -would- hit the spot.


MEANWHILE, ON INSTAGRAM

Pictures of Velocity Dash skating, telling people to move, and laughing at Creel, all taken from different angles begin appearing on various feeds; many carry the hashtag '#SkateTheRainbow'.

BACK IN THE REAL WORLD

Creel would probably have an angry retort for Dash if he wasn't more coagulant than man right now; since he is, he just sort of stands there and creaks with his chain frozen mid-swing beside his body.

There are a few scrapes and bruises among those who got clipped by debris at some point during the brawl; most of them are in the food court and in Penney's, where Thing and Creel were duking it out before the other heroes arrived.

"Hope they give the prick bread an' water," Ben grumbles as he stomps towards the Absorbing Man. "Thanks fer the assist, Stretch." A beat as he looks around, and then he adds, "Robot Girl, Carrothead, Rain— " Another pause as he looks for the rainbow blur he's sure he saw between punchings, and then he shrugs. "— well, anyways: any'a you ever try yellowtail? 'S on me, soon as this mess gets cleaned up; it ain't bad, if you ignore the lack'a tartar…"




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