Toxic, Part 1

(by Smokedawg, 17 December 2009)


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Toxic, Part 1

By Smokedawg (aka JbouleyJdog)

Blog: http://betterwithsmoke.wordpress.com

E-mail: pseudojeff@msn.com

All DC Comics characters used for entertainment purposes only, and remain the
copyright of DC Comics and its affiliate and/or parent companies.

NOTE 1: This story is inspired by an idea presented to me by Blackbladder,
the author of many memorable smoking fetish tales, including the Buffy the
Vampire Slayer fan fiction story, "Demon Weed."

NOTE 2: If you find the mention of Superman's harsh actions toward Nick
O'Teen in this story and its follow-up chapters to be out of character, I
should mention that in one of the early 1980s anti-smoking campaign
commercials featuring Nick O'Teen, Superman is indeed depicted as doing just
what I describe him doing (although the injury and aftermath is my own
creation). There were several different commercials featuring Nick O'Teen,
but the one I refer to can be found on YouTube (in November 2009 anyway) at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfBO83xBZNw

----------------------------------------------

The tall, dusky woman in the chocolate-brown mink coat walked into the
Stryker's Island visitation area, and sat on the other side of the table from
the homely, wiry man in prison attire, looking at him through the almost
invisible rippling of the energy field that the warden had used to replace
plain-old bulletproof glass barriers and telephone-style handsets. He didn't
have on the trademark smoldering top hat in the shape of a cigarette butt-nor
the ridiculous brown cape, yellow gloves and tan T-shirt bearing the name
"Nick O'Teen"-but he was unmistakable all the same, with his grotesquely long
nose, jutting chin, large yellowed teeth and stringy brown hair.

I love him, the woman thought, but I am so utterly glad that it was mother's
looks that I took after and not his.

"Hello, Nicoletta," said the man once known as Nicholas Teena, and now
forever known as Nick O'Teen. A man also confined to a wheelchair and
paralyzed from the waist down since his final encounter with Superman. "Still
smoking?"

"Always, daddy. Always," she answered with a faint smile; she wanted to reach
out and touch his face, but didn't relish the thought of being stunned by the
SecuriField between them. "Smoking is part of the family business after all.
And it will be part of the payback on your behalf."

"Careful, girl," he said. "You see what Superman did to me."

"Ah, but I'm a woman, daddy," she said coquettishly. "And he's such a
gentleman with the ladies. But more importantly, I've vastly improved our
high-tech R&D-on all fronts."

He narrowed his eyes at her in warning. "Visitation is monitored here," he
said.

"And part of our new technology is something wonderful that allows me to
speak to you very forthrightly, while any monitoring devices or people around
us register a very tame conversation about my love life and the stresses of
running the family empire. So, unless there is a recording device inside your
mouth, which is where I am aiming my words, we're fine."

Nicholas Teena smiled his yellowed smile. "Do tell me more, daughter. Please,
do tell me more. And I'm sure you won't mind if I light up one of the
precious few smokes in my possession while you regale me."

"But of course, daddy. But of course."

* * *

It was quite smoky where Mitchell Worther, Ph.D., was sitting. Nicoletta
Teena, president and CEO of Teena International Inc. had, after all, smoked
no less than two cigarettes during the time she leisurely reviewed his résumé
and some of his published papers while he waited for some cue to speak. Given
that his career momentum at S.T.A.R. Labs was stuck in neutral, though, he
wasn't about to point out her violation of Metropolis' laws against smoking
in the workplace. Nicoletta Teena had sought him out through a corporate
science headhunting firm, and hers was one of the few businesses, aside from
LexCorp and maybe two or three others, that could give him the money and
opportunity he craved.

But none of those other companies was knocking on his door, so he would
endure.

And besides, her smoke didn't smell bad, as it spiraled from the all-gray
cigarette and as it left her mouth in thick exhales. It almost had a
perfume-like note to it, he realized, not unlike pipe tobacco.

"I'm very impressed by your body of work, Dr. Worther," the striking
32-year-old chief executive said, emphasizing the word "body" with just a
hint of innuendo, and exhaling a prodigious cloud of her slightly sweet
smoke. "I wonder, though, why you answered my invitation so quickly, given
that the research possibilities here at Teena International cannot possibly
match the stature of those at S.T.A.R. Labs."

Damn, I shouldn't have been so eager to call back so quickly; must look
desperate, he thought, then suddenly realized there was a knowing look in her
eyes. He was being tested. Or baited. He recovered his composure quickly with
that revelation. "I suspect you've done your research on me, Ms. Teena, and
realize that some of my research interests have skirted the edge of S.T.A.R.
Labs' comfort zone. Nothing illegal of course. Or dangerous. Or even
scandalous. But just enough to make them wonder if I'm on the same page
enough with them to advance to a chief researcher position, much less an
executive one."

"Actually, it's Dr. Teena," she corrected him, then took a deep drag on her
cigarette and aimed her exhale straight at him, her gaze holding his the
whole time. As the cloud began to dissipate, she continued. "I have two
doctoral degrees, in fact. I graduated high school at the age of 10. But I
think you know that, or enough of my background anyway-since I'm sure you
researched me and my company before coming here-and I will gladly let your
lapse be forgotten."

"Thank you. And you're right, you deserve the title `doctor' as much as I do.
But you're sitting in an executive position, and so `Ms.' just seemed more
appropriate," Dr. Worther responded honestly. "But, at the risk of further
jeopardizing my chances here, I should point out that there is something else
I know, that your company has done a commendable job of glossing over. The
fact that you are the daughter of Nick O'Teen. It concerns me a little."

She surprised him by merely smiling, not a hint of irritation in her gaze,
and she toyed with the cigarette a bit, drawing it across her full, red lips
for a couple seconds before clamping them onto the filter, which was a
charcoal gray color to offset the lighter gray of rest of the cigarette. She
pulled in a deep lungful of smoke, then released it slowly, sensuously, and
Dr. Worther was instantly reminded of old 1940s black-and-white movies and
all those smoking femme fatales. He shivered, unsure if it was fear or desire
causing the reaction.

"My father hardly rates as a super villain. Hardly a villain at all, really.
Lex Luthor has more dirt clinging to him."

"After your father's final encounter with Superman, it was discovered that
the cigarettes he had been offering teens and children were laced with a
number of exotic drugs, some of them highly addictive and psychoactive," Dr.
Worther pointed out.

"Yes, and doesn't my father's behavior seem a trifle odd; a successful
businessman with a large tobacco company stalking children and offering them
cigarettes, being carted off by Superman time and again, until they finally
discovered the nature of the `20' brand cigarettes and Nick O'Teen vaulted
right to the level of minor super villain and major social menace?"

"All super villains seem odd to me, Dr. Teena. And superheroes oftentimes as
well."

"Shortly before my father began his odd side-career in trying to hook kids on
smoking, he was approached by Manchester Black. You've heard of him?"

"Of course. A highly gifted, if morally questionable, telepath and
telekinetic."

"And a smoker. He actually smoked one of the brands that my father marketed
in Britain, and he wanted in on the business as an equal partner with my
father; I think in part to fund his little escapades to kill super powered
individuals he considered dangerous. We were successful in many other areas
aside from tobacco, including pharmaceuticals and telecommunications, at the
time. My father refused. Manchester Black fucked with his mind in irritation.

"My father started acting erratically, adopted the Nick O'Teen persona, and
then ultimately, around the eleventh or twelfth time he ran into Superman,
got himself flung high into the air by that overpowered boy scout, sending
him crashing through a penthouse window of a skyscraper and shattering his
spine," Nicoletta continued. "If it weren't for the fact that everyone wanted
to save Superman's reputation, they would never have looked so closely at the
cigarettes, and never would have known what was in them, since my father had
rarely been able to get any kids smoking before Superman showed up."

Dr. Worther frowned. "If your father was suffering from psychic tampering,
why didn't this ever come out in the trial?"

"Because if we had mentioned it, there would have been deeper investigations
beyond my father's seemingly isolated actions, and the authorities might have
found that we actually were preparing to market a cigarette similar to my
father's `20' brand, which would have been highly addictive. In fact, the
second-hand smoke of our planned product would have encouraged many of those
who inhaled it to take up smoking themselves. It also would have increased
the rates of ADHD in children. That would have been a boon to our
pharmaceutical program, since we had a pair of excellent ADHD drugs. Also
some fantastic smoking cessation drugs. So, the increase in smoking rates
would have been a blessing for us all around."

"That's...highly immoral," Dr. Worther said, his voice rising an octave.
"Illegal, too, I would think."

"And ultimately scrapped because of the attention on the company after my
father's actions. It couldn't be risked. Just as well, though. It took me
years to drag this company from the brink, but I branched out into
nanotechnology, agriculture, aquaculture and virtual reality as well, and
made it the multinational force it is today," Nicoletta said, taking another
drag from her cigarette, stubbing it out, and lighting a new one.

"I'm not sure I'm the best fit for this company," Dr. Worther said nervously,
fidgeting a bit and wondering how to bow out of this interview before she
took stock of how much she had just told him.

"Our boundaries are a bit too far afield of your comfort level, doctor?"
Nicoletta said, letting thick white smoke pour slowly from her lips, only to
suck it back up into her nose in a French inhale, then blow it toward Dr.
Worther. "You simply must work for me."

The commanding tone she put on the word "must" wasn't lost on Dr. Worther.
"Look, your secret about what the company was working on back then is safe
with me. I don't want any trouble."

"But I do," Nicoletta countered. "Want trouble, that is. I want trouble for
Superman, and your skill areas dovetail so nicely with my needs. Your
knowledge both of neurophysiology and nanotechnology. You're hired."

"But..."

"I said that you're hired, Dr. Worther. Smile. Thank me," she said with a
wicked edge to her voice. "I promise you'll be paid handsomely. Do well
enough, and one day you'll be able to leave this room again."

"Leave? Why would you keep me in this room?"

"You don't like it? It's a very large office; bigger than most three-bedroom
apartments. My office is larger. Oh, this isn't my office, doctor. Is that
what you thought? It's yours. Computers and your necessary research
technology will be delivered later today and hooked up, as well as additional
furniture and a full wardrobe. You have a private bathroom and a
kitchenette."

"You can't leave the room, though," she continued. "You see, these gray
cigarettes I've been smoking are very special. They have introduced a
self-replicating neuroactive chemical into your body. It is designed to turn
people into blithering idiots. Vegetables really. However, into this room is
pumped the agent that holds that chemical in check. I mean, you could leave,
but within fifteen minutes of heading out the door, you'd be drooling and
staring at the walls. For the rest of your life."

"This is..."

"...how I do business," Nicoletta interrupted him. "Welcome to the company."

"I don't believe you. You've been smoking those cigarettes. You're getting
more of whatever's in them than I am. So unless you're staying here, too, I
have to assume this is a bluff."

"As I said, our company is very diverse, and the nanotech division is one of
our best. My lungs have been saturated with nanobots, and among many other
things, they prevent any noxious chemicals from entering my bloodstream via
my respiratory system. Except for the ones I enjoy, like nicotine."

"What is it you want me to do?" he asked helplessly.

"You will help me bring down Superman. For starters. You'll have the
necessary files soon enough. I know that you are very smart, Dr. Worther, and
I have no doubt you'd find a way to counteract my insurance in your
bloodstream and brain tissues, given enough time. But that would require some
tinkering with your genes and biochemistry. Your computer activity will be
monitored at all times. At the first sign that you are doing any research
into either genetics or biochem, I will cut off the flow of the arresting
agent through your ventilation system, and have my staff drag your mindless
body into the nastiest alleyway in Metropolis. Do you have any questions?"

Dr. Worther sighed, then took a deep breath, even though he was taking more
of her tainted smoke into his lungs, and still marveling at how good it
smelled. "Do I get any time off? Health benefits? Bonus program?"

"You'll find it all quite generous, Dr. Worther," she said brightly, and he
couldn't help but notice how gorgeous she looked when she smiled. "Even
though you cannot leave this room, our virtual reality entertainment
technology is superb-if far too expensive for consumer applications yet. You
even get a visit from a very high-class professional escort-gender of your
choice-once a week for eight hours. We're a very progressive organization."

She paused, leaned forward, and gave him a lascivious look, then added: "Oh,
by the way, the agent that's pumped into this room to keep you from becoming
a drooling moron is mixed with a gas that makes you highly aroused by
thoughts of me, and more than a little suggestible when I'm around. Just a
little more insurance. Thought I should mention it so that you won't wonder
why you might keep seeing my face when you close your eyes during any
intimate activities with your weekly professional sex worker."

"In for a penny, in for a pound," Dr. Worther muttered, gauging that she was
a woman who rewarded loyalty and perseverance-and success even more so.
"Thanks for having me onboard, Dr. Teena. I hope that aside from this special
project, you'll also find value in some of the ideas I had that S.T.A.R. Labs
balked at."

"Of course, Dr. Worther. Of course. I took the liberty of having all of your
work files stolen from your office, because I simply love some of your more
esoteric endeavors. They'll be delivered shortly, along with your espresso
machine."

* * *

"What's wrong, Kal-El?" Wonder Woman asked, resting a hand lightly on
Superman's shoulder. "For the first time in a long while, we actually had a
meeting here at the Justice League Watchtower that didn't involve the tearing
of reality itself, nor the imminent conquest of the planet."

Superman chuckled. "Diana, you do have a way of lightening my mood. No, it's
just unease. Lois is talking about kids; vaguely, but talking all the same.
I'm worried what a half-Kryptonian fetus might do to her internal organs. And
where would either of us find time to raise a child?"

"Unless Lois has solar cells installed on her belly, I think we can rest easy
about any unborn child of yours having any kind of mishap with super-strength
or heat vision," Wonder Woman responded. "I'm not trying to be flippant,
Kal-El. Really I'm not. But you wouldn't be the first too-busy couple to find
time to raise a child. And if you really think a fetus of yours would absorb
solar radiation in the womb and develop metahuman capabilities, Lois could
stay in a red-sun simulation chamber. Gods know that the one you have in
Antarctica is big enough to fit three families."

Superman sighed, then smiled at his comrade. "You make it sound so simple,
Diana. But it's a complex world out there, especially for people like us. And
I just can't shake the feeling that this lull in the action is just the calm
before the next cataclysmic storm."

"How bad could it be, Kal-El? I mean, after having Lex Luthor as president
recently, I think we've seen just about the worst that the Fates can throw at
us."

Wonder Woman finally got what she wanted, eliciting a full-fledged laugh from
the Man of Steel.

"If you two are done flirting in there," shouted Booster Gold from the next
room, "I could use some help with the damned teleporter unit. You know, maybe
a pair of folks with super-strength, one of whom can actually see into the
unit with X-ray vision to tell me where the connection break is."

"On our way, Booster," Superman called back, then extended one arm toward the
door. "After you, Diana."

* * *

"I'll want my team fully assembled and ready to play together in 30 days,
Randall," Nicoletta said to the ex-Marine at her side, smoke punctuating
every word. "I probably won't need them as a unit for at least three or four
months, but I want them ready. And that includes my cousin. How is Justine
these days, by the way? I haven't been able to keep up with her since I
started things rolling."

"Justine? She insists on being called Toxine now. All day, every hour of the
day," Randall said, keeping his face calm but feeling nervous inside at his
employer's smoking; he could never be sure whether it was a normal cigarette
or something more insidious held between her fingers and lips. "She says she
refuses to be part of the team for any kind of long-term run, but she seems
to have grown attached to her codename nonetheless."

"You evaded my question. How is she? It's been almost six months since
the...mishap. Last time I saw her, she was still in a hermetically sealed room
and hardly able to keep herself together-literally."

"She's mostly stable now."

Nicoletta frowned, and blew a stream of smoke just off to the side of the
former major's head, knowing full well how much her smoking unnerved him.
"Stable. Do you mean cellularly or psychologically?"

"A bit of both," he answered. "But mostly on the cellular side, I admit."

"Well, her psyche will be much improved when she gets her prize during the
mission," Nicoletta responded, inhaling deeply and casting her spent
cigarette aside. "Once I let her have him, I think she'll be better off. He
should be able to endure her, and I don't need him-nor do I have any quarrel
with him. Justine has quite the libido, and it can't be a good feeling to
have poisoned your lover a dozen different ways just because you couldn't
keep your hands off him-and every other man we've given her since then died
even quicker. She just can't produce neutralizing chemicals and antidotes
from her body fast enough to keep ahead of the nastier stuff she produces.
Potent tool for our needs, but a bitch for her."

Nicoletta sighed, and then continued: "But as long as she does what we need
her to, she can have The Flash, make him her sex slave, and bow out of the
team to live weirdly ever after. By that time, I'll either have all the super
powered thralls I'll need to achieve my goals, or I'll be in Stryker's with
my father."


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