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Mutants & Masterminds: The Unlikely Prophets - Prologue: Bodhie Armstrong - The Wall


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Each relationship nurtures a strength or weakness within you.

- Mike Murdock

It was a new day.

From far off, London's Big Ben, recently having celebrated its one hundredth and ninetieth birthday, struck the time. Seven in the morning. The clock had been recently restored after an 'accident' - there were quotes around the word - destroyed the face and much of the substructure. The restoration had replaced clockwork for digital speakers on an atomic clock. They said it was indistinguishable from the old chime, but she could tell. Maybe it was her imagination, but she could tell.

She rose without complaint, used to rising early and used to preparing breakfast. She put together the cereals and milk, knowing that her son and her husband would be down soon. Her son was having night terrors lately; she'd tried to comfort him, while her husband usually resorted to telling him to be a man about it. Last night he'd asked Bodhie if there was anything that could stop Aqua, the salt-water creature that was part of the Order's super-human regime.

She'd said no.

He'd asked what they'd do if Aqua ever became a bad guy, then.

She didn't have an answer. Neither did her husband, though he stammered out something about how the other Order members or the Knights would stop him. He didn't sound believable.

She looked out the window. The Order's satellite was over London on its orbit. The symbol, an eye with one red line and one black one through it, shone down upon the earth. It stared at her - or appeared to - and she looked away first.

Suddenly she wanted to go to the gym.

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Her thoughts were circling around the Order and she knew that was a bad thing. People did generally better if they thought less about the Order and just did what they were supposed to. Bodhie considered herself lucky that her husband had good connections to the local authorities when she got pregnant. Sean wasn’t planned – not unwelcomed but not planned either.

Lately things were going downhill fast, really fast. And each time she felt anger and frustration rose up in her it made her go to the gym. Working out kinda put her brain on autopilot. She could focus on her body instead on some argument or politics or whatever John was trying to do in order to prove that he was still the man in the house – even though she was now the physically stronger of them. Theoretically she knew she had to be stronger than him but her self-image and the role she was supposed to play forced her to be submissive. To take everything he said or wanted as the law. He was the man of the house. The one who paid the bills and she was just his wife – ready whenever he needed her. Although even that had lately been less and less frequent. She hardly could remember the last time they were intimate.

The gym was almost empty and only a few of the early birds were there running the treadmills. Bodhie had the racks for her alone and she asked Alfred not to tell Rachel that she was doing another extra session. Rachel was slowly getting on her nerves, too. Why couldn’t her loved ones leave her alone for once and took her as she was? Accept her for who she was without always rubbing it into her face how disappointed or displeased they were.

It wasn’t as if Rachel had told her but she could feel that her friend was starting to resent her. They started both the same about 4 years ago but Bodhie had the better genetics. Her body responded faster and better to the exercises while Rachel struggled to get into shape. Both women had grown considerably over the last years but where Rachel still had trouble to getting that “ripped” look Bodhie looked like she had won her Pro-Card years ago. Bodhie’s physique was intimidating if she ever chose to show off but she never did – for Rachel’s sake.

Bodhie quickly slipped into her workout top and shorts and started to hit the rack. A good work out would chase away her darker thoughts.

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Sometimes when Rachel was in a funk, she talked about the Wall.

The Wall was a runner's term, but she'd co-opted it for bodybuilding. There was a point where you just couldn't push yourself any longer, where the will to continue faded. Rachel hit the Wall more often than Bodhie did. She complained about it a lot, to Bodhie's irritation.

But Bodhie had a Wall of her own. The way her husband and son looked at her, for one. Rachel's frustration, for another. The movies they put out every year with Spartan, and that sinking feeling that no matter what, she'd never be as strong or as tough as that man. All of these were bricks and mortar in the Wall. Eventually she'd hit it.

She slipped into the routine, counting out repetitions, slow and steady, one, two, three. You could disappear into yourself very easily, just you and the weight, and the numbers. Four, and five, and six...

She heard Alfred arguing with someone outside. She frowned. Six. Six. She was sure it was six. Then she heard another voice. It was Rachel's.

Bodhie felt the frustration rise briefly. It turned to puzzlement when Alfred came in, Rachel right behind him. "Look, I have my check book. You'll take a check, won't you?"

"We don't take checks. Cash or credit only."

"Well, I don't - I'm sorry, Bodhie, he says - "

"Miss Armstrong, I'm sorry, but your account's been closed."

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Bodhie put the dumbbells down and let out a long drawn breath.

"That's impossible.", she finally said. John couldn't have... could he? She clenched her fists flexing every muscle in her body swallowing down her growing hatred for her husband.

"I haven't violated any of the rules around here. Is this about that stupid rumour I'm taking 'roids again?", Bodhie's anger resonated in her voice as she approached Rachel and Alfred.

"What is going on here, Alfred?", she managed to say in a rather calm voice but both Alfred and Rachel could tell that Bodhie was about to snap. They've never seen here like this before.

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"No one said anything about steroids, Mrs. Armstrong. Your account's just been canceled. I took the call this morning. Ah, it was your husband..."

Rachel visibly flinched. "Look, Alfred, I don't have my cards with me, can't you just - "

"No, I can't 'just' anything. I'm sorry, but the rules are the rules. I need you to leave, Mrs. Armstrong. Be gone by the time I get back."

Alfred turned and walked out. Rachel signed. "Had to get an extra one in, huh? Look, I got a weight set at home. We can go there, right? It's not as, uh, robust, as the one here but it'll do if you want a workout, right?"

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Bodhie struggled to keep her composure. John had been haressing her lately more and more and she resorted to ignoring his threats most of the time but now he actually dared to take away the only thing that she was good at. She cursed herself for being so dependent.

Through clenched teeth she finally answered, "Fine... we'll go to your place Rachel. Now I really need a good workout."

To Alfred she just nodded. He had his job to do but she expected him to show a bit more clemency in her case. She was sure that some of the blokes worked out at the gym because of her. No point in arguing it. Better leave now and vent some of my frustration at Rachel's before I go home and kill John....

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Rachel wasn't kidding. Her weight set was more modest, but it'd do the job.

She'd been quiet all the way over. Once they were inside, she spoke up quietly. "Are you and John having problems again? Do you - I mean, well... have you had to call the Knights in?"

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Bodhie looked at Rachel raising an eyebrow. Her anger was still pumping adrenaline into her system and her heart didn't seem to stop increasing it's pace. It was beating like a drum on speed.

"I'd never call in the Knights, Rachel. The embarrasment...", she shook her head. "He'd never forgive me - lets just don't talk about him, ok? Right now I just want to rip his head off..."

Bodhie almost trembled as she tried to calm down but it didn't really work. Not waiting for an answer she decided to hit the large rack and do some benchs. She didn't even notice the weight that was racked as she started to do her reps. It was 25 pounds heavier than her personal record...

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"Okay. I'll leave you alone then. I need to check something on the TV. My, uh, my stories are on."

As Bodhie worked on her triceps, Rachel left the room. The TV turned on, and Bodhie heard the murmured sounds of a soap opera.

One. Two. Three.

"You can stop drinking, John - but I can't stop having an evil twin!"

And four. And five. And six.

"And furthermore - "

There was a beeping noise. Bodhie heard Rachel swear. "Always during the good part."

Then the most famous voice in the world was heard. "People of Earth; this is Archon."

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Bodhie grip tensed around the bar when she heard John's name on the tellie.

Common - focus, Bodhie - focus, but she couldn't. She felt her heart increase its pace as she pushed out another rep. Her arms were shaking but not from the strain. Her system was flushed with adrenaline and she felt like she was about to burst.

Bodhie stood up and looked at the bench considering to lift it up and toss it across the room. Maybe that would ease her tension?

"Don't be stupid...", she mumbled to herself.

Then Archon's voice brought her back out of her near rant. She wiped the sweat of her face and listened in to what he announced. Maybe that'd help her calm down a bit.

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"I am broadcasting from the Order's Throne, high above the world. I bring you a message of hope. The hole in the ozone layer is re-sealed."

Archon then seemed to go into technical details on the environmental recovering for a bit, then...

Then the image seemed to scramble, as if the signal was interrupted. Then the visual was replaced by the little-seen face of the Order's economic and sociological engine: The Mathemagician.

There was silence as the Mathemagician stared out of the TV set. With a start, Bodhie realized that it wasn't just silence on the television. There was silence all around her. Rachel didn't seem to notice.

Attempts to speak didn't seem to work. Bodhie felt a tightness in her throat. And then, the Mathemagician spoke.

who are you?

Then there was a song.

" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344">

To call this song 'haunting' did no justice. It seemed to stop the whole world. Nothing was frozen - the wind blew, the sun shone - but the whole planet seemed to take a collective breath. Rachel didn't seem to notice the song.

The song lasted a few seconds. It also lasted forever. Time lost all meaning in its embrace. The song crescendoed, and built, and crashed to its climax, moving mountains with notes. It faded away, leaving her feeling different. Like everything in the living room of her soul was moved six inches out of place.

why are you here?

The Mathemagician's final words hung in the air. The world started up again.

" - the Druid for her tireless efforts. I leave you now. The Order is Forever."

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Originally Posted By: Mike OOC
who are you?

The voice still boomed through her head. She had to physically shake off the effect and take a deep breath to snap out of it.

Who am I?, Bodhie asked herself staring at the weight bench and then at her hands. She balled her hands to fists and relaxed them again, repeating it over and over again.

Who am I

What the hell just happened? She stared at the full length mirror watching her reflection for a moment. Who was she? She couldn't really answer that question. The woman she saw wasn't the same she remembered a few years ago. She had focused all her frustration into this "hobby" and her growing hatred not only for her husband but for how her life was transformed her into what she saw now.

Who am I?, she repeated the question. Why am I here?

"To make a difference.", she suddenly said determined. She felt adrenaline resurge in her body and she sat down on the bench again and resumed her workout.

"To make a change.", she said to herself pushing the extremely heavy weight and driving herself to her limit... and beyond.
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What is strength?

Bodhie lifted the bar. The question stuck in her mind.

One. Two. Three.

Was it just lifting a weight set?

Four. Five. Six.

Or was it bearing a great weight, instead?

Seven. Eight. Nine.

Was it living with a husband who wore one face on one day and another the next?

Ten. Eleven. Twelve.

Was it raising a son in a world as screwed up as this one?

Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.

Was it being strong, to live in a world like this?

Sixteen. Seventeen. Eighteen.

Or was it being strong, to make it a better one?

Nineteen. Twe -

There was a tapping sound, and an awkwardness to the bar. Slowly, Bodhie slid out of the red haze she'd slid into, and looked.

The weights were hanging downwards at nearly a perfecty ninety degree angle to the bar. This was because the bar itself was bent in two places. What was even more remarkable was where it was bent: where she was gripping it.

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Bodhie stared at the bar her mouth half agape. It wasn't exactly the bending of the bar that baffled her, it was the total lack of weight she felt. The bar was set at 250 pounds and weight like nothing to her. She brought herself to a sitting position and slowly stood up. Her heart beat faster as she tried to rationalize what was happening.

"This... can't... be...", she said to herself in disbelief as she applied some pressure on the bar bending it right in the middle and then breaking it in two.

Now she had two make shift dumbbells of 125 pounds each and they still felt like nothing. Bodhie dropped the weights just to see and hear if they acted like they were supposed to. With a heavy clank they hit the floor leaving deep marks on the floor where they made contact with the concrete of Rachels' private workout room. Gravity does what it's supposed to, but I'm not...

"What's going on back there, Bodhie? Need some help?", she heard Rachel say.

"It's ok... nothing happened.", Bodhie quickly answered a bit surprised by the sound of her voice which was a bit deeper than she remembered. Her clothes started to feel tight around her and the ceiling was getting closer. She looked up and then down again and saw how she steadily grew, not only in height but also in mass. Her muscles expanded with incredible strength as she slowly reached her new height of 8 and a half feet.

Her sweater and pants got torn apart by the process leaving her in her spandex shorts and a lycra tank top that now looked as if it was painted on her chest. Bodhie caught a short glimpse of herself in the mirror and gasped. What she saw was absolutely impossible.

"What the...", her mind started to race. The Mathematician knows...What am I supposed to do? They'll hunt me... but it feels so good.. Her thoughts couldn't settle on what to do. She was caught between awe and fear. Something had happened to her and it made her smile. She flexed her arms revelling in the strength she felt. What could possibly happen now? Who could stop her?

She heard a shuffling noise and then someone coming closer. Rachel obviously decided to take a look and see if everything was alright. Bodhie froze in panic and stared at the half opened door where she could already make out Rachel's approaching silhouette.

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"Bodhie I swear it you put too... many... weights... on..."

Rachel rounded the corner, coffee cup in hand - but not for long. It slipped out of her slackened grip, shattering in the floor.

Rachel stared, disbelievingly, at Bodhie's superhuman form. "What - how - I - " Rachel took half a step backwards, looking scared.

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Bodhie instinctively raised her arms trying to be defensive and slowly shook her head.

"I... I can.", she started to say but realized she couldn't. She couldn't explain what happened only that it felt like she had always been that way. She wanted to tell Rachel how good it felt, how powerful, how strong she felt but Rachel would just freak out.

Rachel took another shakey step backwards, "This... you...", she tried to comprehend what she saw. Her best friend whom she always envied for her dedication and gifted genetics had grown an impossible body. She stared at her, fear slowly getting replaced by anger and blinded rage. Why couldn't she be like her? Why was she always second place? The runner up? She had done everything to be good - no better than Bodhie. She even went under the knife to get implants because the judges preferred the women to still have a woman's chest and not only pecs. It was a crazy sport for women - closer to torture than anything else.

But here stood her best friend, looking amazing - huge. Muscles, shape, size, breasts - everything was perfect. In a moment of insanity Rachel lounged herself forward and blindedly hit Bodhie in the vain attempt to hurt her. To give back some of the hurt she felt.

Bodhie wasn't prepared for any kind of attack and she didn't flinch as Rachel's fists hit her abs. To Rachel it must've felt like hitting a concrete wall. Abs that were hard as steel easily absorbed her blows until she had to stop because she only hurt herself. Bodhie reached out for Rachel and grabbed her with one hand lifting her off the ground and holding her at arms length.

"Stop it, Rachel... please.", Bodhie tried to sooth her stil a bit surprised by her own voice. It was still hers but it had a deeper more powerful timbre. She wasn't sure if she should be scared or thrilled. She looked down her arm which held Rachel like a ragdoll. She knew her friend weight about 180 pounds in the off-season but it felt like nothing to her. Like holding a feather.

"Listen to me. You're my only friend. The only human being I can turn to if I need help. I've never competed against you - you competed against me and I tried to stay out of your way as good as possible. Please Rachel... I don't know what happened to me but I do know it is... important. Something has happened, not only to me. I feel like a veil has been lifted but I still don't understand why. Please don't call the Knights, ok? I will put you down now, ok?"

Bodhie looked at her friend praying she would snap out of her rage and calm down. They were friends... she hoped.

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Rachel kept sucking in panicked gulps of air, but nodded furiously. Bodhie set her down.

"What the hell? Is this some kind of - " Rachel, knowing Bodhie's temper, didn't say the word steroid, but it hung in the air regardless. "Some treatment?" She looked at the bar, and swallowed thickly. "Holy crap, that was solid steel. That's... that Spartan-level." Spartan-level was a term used jokingly in bodybuilding, the idea that you were approaching the levels of physique that the Order's hatchet-man Spartan had. No one ever meant it seriously. Rachel, however, did.

"Bodhie, I'm trying real hard not to freak out. Really hard. But you're three feet taller and you bent my best weight set! How did you do that?"

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Rachel's constant search for an artificial explanation why Bodhie was doing better than her at bodybuilding spiked another surge inside her which made her bulk even more. She looked downright intimidating now - unstoppable.

Bodhie shook her head knowing that Rachel didn't mean to make her angry. It was just her way to cope with things. "I didn't take anything, Rachel. And if I did you'd be the first to get it. I know how much you crave this and have shared everything with you since we've been friends. You have to trust me Rachel, I have no idea what happened. It feels natural to me, though. As if I had it always in me and it only needed to be released.", she looked down to the broken bar as she spoke and slowly picked one piece up.

"This feels like nothing to me. I wonder if...", she said and started molding it with both hands as if it was made of playdoo. In a matter of seconds she shapded the weight and the steelbar to a small ball of metal and presented it to Rachel.

"I think I'm off the scale...", Bodhie admitted with disbelief in her voice. Spartan-level... she sure felt like she was. She looked at Rachel close to freaking out herself. "I can't describe how it feels, Rachel. But this is absolutely amazing."

Thinking about the possiblities she now had her thoughts wandered back to the source of her anger and frustration - John. He couldn't hurt her now. She could break him in two if she wanted. A brief smile swept over her face and the idea was both thrilling and frightening at once. Killing him would be so easy now... but that wasn't a solution, was it?

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Rachel staggered backwards at Bodhie's scowl, and took a couple more involuntary steps backwards when Bodhie presented the bent weight set.

"Just - slow down. Stop. Just stop. Please." Rachel blinked, tears rolling down her face. "Bodhie, you are scaring the shit out of me right now, okay? Stop - stop bending things and smiling one minute and looking like you're going to kill me the next, okay? Just stop."

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The image of John in her minds eye got pierced by Rachel's pleading voice. Bodhie blinked a few times looking at Rachel somewhat confused.

"I'm sorry.", she said and repeated it. "I'm sorry.", she put down the bent mishmash of steelbar and weights and tried to remain passive until Rachel calmed down.

"I didn't mean to scare you, Rachel. I...", she looked down at herself taking in how massive she was. She was huge with perfectly sculpted muscles and she felt incredibly powerful. Mighty.

"I don't know what is going on...", Rachel's panic slowly affected Bodhie and the initial rush got replaced by fear. The Mathematician knew something... and that meant the Order would be here soon. Bodhie didn't notice how she was shrinking to a more 'manageable' size as her mind pondered her options. She was still bulkier than she used to be but not 3 feet taller anymore. The perfectly sculpted muslces remained only they were now in proportion to her smaller size.

She had no idea what to do, no idea where to hide. "I don't know what to do.", she said half to herself.

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Bodhie laughed nervously and shook her head. "No radioactive barbell, sorry Rachel."

Her voice got more serious again as she spoke "There was this strange music and a voice...", Bodhie was telling a half truth still unsure if she should disclose what she really experienced. She still thought it was a fiction of her mind but now the impossible seemed more real than anything else.

"I saw the Mathemagician... or he saw me - I'm not sure about that. I remember getting really angry and upset about John. Then suddenly the bar broke."

She looked at her arms and the rest of her body. Even in her smaller 'form' her proportions and definition was unreal. Only very few managed to reach this kind of shape and then only for a few days when they participated in competitions. Her breasts were even back to her pre-workout size though a lot perkier. She smirked at that thought since John seemed so focused around that "issue". All in all Bodhie looked better than ever.

"I feel great, though.", she added, "And you'd be the first to know if there was a way to duplicate this, of course.", she winked at Rachel and flexed a biceps for emphasis which inflated to a massive ball of power, larger than any Rachel has seen before on a woman.

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