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[personal profile] wonder_city
This story arc has been published as a novel!

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---

It Ain't Over Till...

Megan didn't think she'd ever been hurt this badly before. The problem with invulnerability, she reflected, fighting for breath and coughing agonizingly on the dust, is that one's pain threshold feels like it's a lot lower than other people's. Tears and dust stung her eyes. She spat out a mouthful of blood and grit, and prodded experimentally at her teeth with her tongue. Which was sore. Ow.

"Megan? Megan!" Tizemt's voice came through the rubble.

She tried to reply, but coughed instead, which brought fresh tears to her eyes. Something started to drip off her chin. Tizemt, however, peered at her through some splintered boards. "There you are. You look like hell, girl. Can you feel everything? Toes and feet and all?"

Megan nodded, wincing at the pain in neck and back. She thought about it for a moment, then decided it was entirely muscles -- strained, stretched, bruised, and battered muscles -- rather than bones.

"Okay," Tizemt said in an excellently calm voice. "Things are looking crumbly. Can you get yourself out?"

Megan caught more breath and reached for a relatively sturdy-looking piece of concrete. It crumbled as she tried to pull herself out from under the load of shattered building materials, and her movement settled more weight on her back, compressing her breathing space. She then, feeling a little like she did that one time she got confused about where up and down were in the deep end of the swimming pool. got both hands under her and tried to lift herself and everything atop her. The powdered sidewalk beneath her shifted and gave way like a snowdrift. She scrabbled a little, but she felt ominous creaking and shifting beneath her and lay still. Something settled atop her and something went crunchily painful in her side. Ah, ribs.

"No," she said in a voice so weak it didn't sound like her own.

"I'm not surprised," Tizemt said. "That blast looked like it would have made a thin red paste of me. Hang on. I'll see what I can do about levering some of this stuff off you."

There was a short-breathed forever before Megan felt some of the pressure on her ribcage relax, just a bit, just enough for the pain to ease and a little more air to come. Tizemt began cursing, colorfully -- in English -- and unintelligibly -- in another language. Finally, Tizemt called, "I can lever it up, but can't find a good way to keep it levered so I can come around and help you out."

"Can I help, gorgeous?" a deep, soft voice said.

"Uhm," Tizemt said. "Yes, please, ma'am? My friend's stuck under there."

"Sure thing," the contralto said. "Here, let me."

There was a brief shudder through the debris, and then it was steady. Tizemt came around to the porthole in the mess and laid herself down flat. "All right, I can come in about four feet and still have a grip on this lamppost with my legs. D'you think that'll be enough?"

It was enough, just. They both had long arms, though they had some reason to curse leaving the Zenobia spear behind at Copperhead's.

An incongruous vision greeted Megan when Tizemt helped her to her feet. There was a shallow crater full of powdered concrete, a pile of stuff that used to be a warehouse and its contents, dust in the air, and a complex bit of cobbled-together levering -- which mostly consisted of semi-intact structural members from the fallen building -- lifting the wreckage. On the end of the lever sat a large woman in a long, flowing black dress, her legs crossed sedately at the ankle. Her lustrous black hair was bound tightly in a bun at the nape of her neck, and she was examining the rich red of her lips in a small gold compact, which displayed her perfect red nails. She looked up as they emerged, and her smile was sunlike in the dusty twilight.

"You're on your feet!" Her voice rolled over them like velvet. "I called for an ambulance --" she displayed her phone "-- but I'm afraid they're all tied up now, what with the damage uptown and all. Most of the streets are blocked, too. I told them we'd manage somehow."

Tizemt leaned Megan against a half-destroyed stone bench, and Megan sank slowly down to it. "I think I've got some cracked ribs," Megan said, probing her sides gingerly.

Tizemt hurried over to lean on the lever. "Quit poking yourself. We'll get you to hospital soon."

The woman dexterously kept her dress from catching on the splinters of wood and other jagged projections as she hopped down. Her body was as lush and generous as her voice, all curves within and atop curves, round and soft and lovely, and her face had the sculpted beauty of a Roman matron's marble bust, with a gentle double chin and the faintest touches of crow's feet at the corners of her eyes. She walked over to Megan, produced a white handkerchief, dampened it with bottled water from her voluminous purse, and helped Megan get the dust and blood off her face.

"I don't think I've bled like this since I was five," Megan said, eyeing the reddened cloth, "when I decided I wanted to know if I could get something through my skin."

"Ow," the woman said, then leaned back to inspect Megan. "Well, you still look like hell, but scalp wounds bleed like the devil." Megan inhaled and noticed the amber resin scent rising from her benefactor's acres of cleavage. She looked up into the sympathetic liquid darkness of the woman's eyes, and instantly and thoroughly understood why Simon was so hung up on the Fat Lady.

The Fat Lady looked up at the enormous shadow over the city, pressed the handkerchief into Megan's hand, and opened her phone. "Hold pressure on that spot on your forehead." In the distance to the west, they could see another blue-white rain of plasma bolts and hear more crashes as they struck. In the fading twilight and lavender sunset, they could no longer see the tiny spandex heroes on high.

"Yes," she said into the phone, tones businesslike. "What? The fourth? Remote controlled -- have you confirmed that there are no lifeforms? Good. I've got a ten story building nearby, if you can send Meteor this way... yes. Pull everyone out."

Tizemt and Megan exchanged looks as she snapped the phone shut. "We'll have some transport in just a moment, darlin's."

Megan had caught her breath enough to say, "Thank you for your help."

The Fat Lady smiled and patted her -- very gently -- on the arm. "What're your names?"

"Tizemt."

"Megan Amazon."

"I'm glad to meet you both. I'm -- oh, here's our ride."

Meteor -- recognizable from the newspaper photos in her green tank suit and thigh-high boots and flaming red hair -- stepped over a nearby building. Megan and Tizemt stared up at her.

The Fat Lady said, in a voice of normal volume but unusual timbre, "Hello, there, Highpockets. I need some altitude -- can you please provide?"

When Meteor looked down at them, Megan realized that the Fat Lady had thrown her voice with her sonic powers so that Meteor could hear it, despite her rather large ear being about 80 feet above them. Meteor carefully lowered a handscape to ground level.

"Got some friends with me," the Fat Lady continued conversationally. "That building over there, I think," she added, pointing to the ten story building she'd mentioned before. She stepped firmly into the proffered palm, then paused to remove her narrow, high-heeled shoes for better balance. Tizemt helped Megan aboard, and Meteor lifted them to the building top.

The Fat Lady stepped off, dropping her shoes and sliding into them. "You two stay with Meteor. The three of you should be directly behind me, on the roof, but behind that chimney, I think." She smiled again and walked across the rooftop.

Meteor set the others down, took a grip on the edge of the roof, and began to shrink down. "She's got a LOT of control," she said, eight feet tall and hauling herself onto the roof, "but I suggest covering your ears. I've only ever heard about this, but I expect there's an area of effect or something."

They started to hear a resonant voice flying up and down broadening scales. Her voice echoed richly through the silent warehouse district, drowning out the explosions thirty blocks away.

Meteor spoke into the communicator in her collar. "She's warming up. Cue Santa Ana for impending cleanup."

"Affirmative," a tinny voice replied.

The voice got to the bottom of the scale and paused. Megan peered curiously around the corner of the chimney, hands clamped over her ears.

The Fat Lady stood silhouetted on the edge of the rooftop, spine straight, hands clasped under her abundant bosom. And then she sang again, and it was different from what came before: louder, harder, more insistent. She started at low C and belted up the scale one more time, higher and higher, every note distinct, reverberating through Megan's aching ribcage and skull.

Megan lost count of the notes, lost track of the octaves, and was suddenly aware of the peal of some immense choral high note, full of voices, piercing and awful and thunderous, held for an eternity of celestial madness.

The ship's ominous shadow shimmered, shuddered, and suddenly evaporated into a vast, spreading cloud.

Silence settled over Wonder City.

Nearby, in the aftermath of the aria, a lone window shattered its applause.

The winds rose abruptly, and the dust of the spacecraft was swept into a vortex high overhead and dragged away to the east.

The Fat Lady strode back to them across the roof. She was perspiring heavily, sodden hair curling tightly at her temples, shoulders drooping. "I hope I never have to do that again," she said, mopping her chin and nose and forehead carefully with her sleeve. "I've done it too often."

The Kosmic Klaxon sounded its all-is-well whoops.

The Fat Lady patted Megan -- not quite as gently as before -- on the shoulder. "Meteor can set you two down wherever you'd like to go, dears." She frowned and pulled something from the outer pocket of her purse. "And here, one for each of you."

Megan and Tizemt accepted a slip of paper each. Megan looked down, vaguely confused.

"Tickets, darlin'," the Fat Lady said with a tired smile. "I'm performing with my all-para troupe in Hera and Zeus. It's much nicer to hear me sing Hera than Götterdämmerung, I promise."

Date: 2011-10-07 06:14 pm (UTC)
pheyne: Cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] pheyne
Oh! I love her!

Date: 2011-10-07 11:11 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
I am extremely fond of her as well! A friend of mine did an admirable drawing of the Fat Lady (as well as Megan and Tizemt hanging out, and Nereid and Brainchild talking). Also, if you want more of the Fat Lady, I wrote her origin story.

Date: 2012-02-26 07:11 am (UTC)
sepdet: Samhain worshipping the veggies. Oooommm. (Okay, yes, catnip was involved.) (Default)
From: [personal profile] sepdet
Oooo. (The Fat Lady is one of my favorite characters so far. It's so incredibly logical that someone who can bench press planets would tend to be less than toned.)

I was just enjoying the adventure the first time I read this; now I'm wondering who the heck the aliens were and whether this will pop up again later.

Date: 2012-05-09 07:43 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Agreed on both counts, Sepdet.

Date: 2013-01-17 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This was just... beautiful. The idiom popped into my head early in the scene, and I imagined this big, powerful, curvaceous woman showing up on the scene of a pitched superhero battle. All the heroes breathe a sigh of relief, and one of them mutters, "Finally, it's over." Incredible sonic powers ensue, the end.

When the story then went EXACTLY in that direction, only with much more well-crafted language than my spur-of-the-moment imagining, it gave me the good tinglies. Teared up a little, even. Wow.

It's all over when the fat lady sings, eh?

Date: 2013-01-09 04:11 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Nice twist to a baffling idiom.

I'm enjoying the quirky characters muchly, thanks for writing this.

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