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[Fiction] New Face, New Outlook


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To: Contract Holder-Trooper

Re: Wardrobe

Message: Troop, enough is enough. Get your ass to Bruce post-haste. No more fucking around

"Phhuck..." he cursed under his breath. He'd been dodging Harry for awhile now. His handler was a good guy, been with the company for awhile and knew how to dance right around dangerous men, but Trooper was still not in the mood to take this last step.

A mask.

He never wore one before. The stars were all that Bruce said he needed for what they were going for, the whole understated military look. Stars and camo. Not anymore, not by a long shot.

One look in the mirror told him that. He glanced over at the hated silvered surface and grimaced. Though, he always looked like that now. Half of his face was mangled, cracked teeth shown through the gaping canyon that used to be his cheek. Slick, raw flesh hung in tatters from the bone inspiring nightmares to those with gentle natures.

"Oh great, 'Ruce is gonna 'ave a 'eyday with this shit. Ten to one I end up the new 'hantom ov the O-era."

He pulled himself up from his chair and threw a t-shirt on. Fuck if he was going to shower and shave the half of his face that needed it. He had to go and get dressed up as some monster, hell if he was going to act like he was happy about it.

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The Wearhouse was perhaps the ugliest building in the entire compound. Three stories tall, dull unadorned concrete and darkened windows that showed nothing of what was inside. And that was how Bruce wanted it.

"The wonders I create within could not hope to be matched by mere paint and trim, so why bother?" was what he said on any occasion when the contrast of what was without was compared to within.

A first-time visitor to The Wearhouse couldn't be blamed if they stood in sheer wonderment (or outright confusion) at the chaos of colors, riot of fabrics and bizzare combinations of materials that one might never consider being part of a costume.

A neon pink welder's mask?

Gold lame' razorwire?

A bear-trap?

All that and more. Every possible form of fabric, type of leather or possible combination of patterns. The raw material in which some of the most incredible, intimidating and memorable identities were forged.

Vile Bill. The Toxic Cowboy who's Nasty Black was still talked about in hushed whispers.

Jack Chance. The smooth operator with a look as sharp as his wit.

Boomslang. The Sonic Screamer for whom 'skin-tight' was more than just a description, it was a way of life.

Totentanz. A name that struck fear into those who laughed in the face of armies and heavy-armor.

And more and more and more.

Each and every one of them crafted by Bruce Sauvage to make them permenent additions to the public consciousness. Identities that would invoke fear or admiration and command top dollar even before a reputation was made.

Of course, the man had another reputation. Like many artists he was a tad...sensitive. Well, possessing a hair trigger temper might be a better descriptive. If Bruce was some whispy little flower of a man it would likely be thought of as the classical artistic temperment. But Bruce was hardly a whispy little man. Six foot eight and three hundred and forty pounds of hairy muscle topped by a craggy-featured, full-bearded, iron-chinned face that would make Grizzly Adams look like Pee-Wee Herman. All in all someone not to talk down to, or worse, correct regarding what colors you look good in. Do so, or worse, tell him that you have your own ideas and he just needs to follow your instructions and something bad might happen. He might go on a rage. He may banish you from the Wearhouse until your handler helps you to understand exactly who wields the power of the image at Devries. Or worse. He may be quiet, smile and let you know that a stroke of genius has just overcome him and you will now be known as:

Gadget Girl. The cyberkinetic phantom who thought she knew better than Bruce.


El Speedo. The speedster who thought that gay jokes were safe around Bruce since he was so obviously not a homo. Someone had to explain to him what a Bear was.


Tinsleman. The metallic powerhouse who told Bruce that gold and black bell-bottoms were the coolest thing in the world.

So Trooper, someone completely unhappy with his appearence but not suicidal, gritted his teeth and entered into the Wearhouse willing to accept whatever Bruce laid on him. He'd take it, smile (somewhat) and tear the head off the first motherfucker who made a joke.

Yeah, that was the plan.

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  • 1 month later...

Music blared at eardrum shattering level as Trooper walked through the door. Not unusual. Bruce liked his music loud enough to envelope him in a womb of vibrating air. Speakers dotted ever wall, most racks and the ceiling to ensure that every cubic inch of The Wearhouse was drenched in perfect clarity of rhythm, timbre, pitch and harmony.

Not that the Bloodhound Gang was improved much with high-tech equipment.

Oh goodie, thought Trooper as the lyrics to “Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo” throbbed into his skull, he’s in a playful mood. Might as well get this over with.

He gulped in air and yelled out “’RUUUUCE!!!! I’uh here ‘hore ‘y a’ointment!!”

Quick as a wink Bruce leapt out with arms full of cloth, belts, and sundry other geegaws, “Trooper! Glad you actually got your ass out of the field and/or your house and came by to let me work my magic on you.”

Trooper couldn’t help but laugh. You couldn’t with Bruce. The man could stare into the mangled face of a stone killer and still make it seem like any other appointment. And even then, even when you knew that Bruce was completely aware of what he was doing you couldn’t hold it against him. Simply because it was exactly what you needed. He wasn’t the most charming bastard on the planet. He was too pissy for that. And we wasn’t one of those manipulative fucks who could convince you that selling your own cock was a great idea. No, nothing like that. He could just look right in your eyes (or eye as the case may be) and realize exactly what you needed. Instant connection. And everything was alright, Bruce would make sure of that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Bruce looked over Trooper, took in the stance, the look on the undamaged portions of his face and the cast of his eye and immedietely set about to work.

"Okay, you stand over there Mr. Muscles, I want to do some sketches." He pointed over to a black draped dais and pulled out his well-worn sketcpad. His fingers flew as he spoke to Trooper, as if his eyes and mouth were independent of his hands, "So...", he paused momentarily, "when did she leave?"

Trooper would have shown some shock if he wasn't already sure that everyone in the base knew before he did. But Bruce probably hadn't heard a thing. He didn't engage in gossip, thought it beneath him, no, Bruce probably figured it out all on his lonesome. He sighed a little, "Last night. Don't worry. I'm not going to go psycho or anything. We're cool. It was physical and now I'm...less than pleasent."

Bruce's eyes had a disarming mirth to them, "Only from the neck up though. You've still got a body to die for."

Trooper actually laughed. For the first time in a long time he chuckled. Again, only from Bruce, "Yeah," he said, "If she was into the whole masked look I'd probably still be her favorite boy-toy."

Tension dissipated from Trooper's shoulders. Time passed. Bruce went through page after page of his sketchbook, keeping some, tossing others and all the while chatting pleasantly. Halfway through it all Trooper began to wonder if this was about a new look at all. His fucked up visage hardly ruined his basic GI Joe look. Heck, if anything it actually gave him some pop, something memorable. Up until now the only thing really memorable about him were the toys that Rachel doled out to him. And, lack of between-the-sheet-time notwithstanding, that part of their relationship hadn't changed. If anything she mentioned that he seemed to actually be getting smart enough to make comprehensive reports rather than his normal check lists. Coming from her that was a pretty hefty compliment.

Was this more about getting him over the hump? His time with the doctors and the therapist had been a total fucking waste. Was this just another attempt at getting him back into fighting shape? Getting him dependable again?

He frowned as he thought, spacing out a bit and not noticing that Bruce noticed his change in demeanor and gave him time and silence to think in. The sound of pencil on paper, the breathing of two large men and the hum of electric lights was all that was left.

Bruce finally stood up, "Okay Troop, I think you're going to like this." As he walked forward and flipped the pad around so that Trooper could see his new look something clicked.

Who gives a shit? He thought, I'm a big, bad man with a lot of money and the opportunity to kill people on a regular basis. Life's pretty good all things considered.

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