I Am Wo-Man


Roger M. Wilcox

Copyright © 1984, 2023 by Roger M. Wilcox. All rights reserved.

chapter 1 | chapter 2 | chapter 3 | chapter 4
chapter 5 | chapter 6 | chapter 7 | chapter 8
chapter 9 | chapter 10 | chapter 11

— Chapter two —

Finding the time to be alone the next day had been a bit tricky. Sure, he only supported himself through odd jobs and the occasional stint waiting tables, so that he could set his own hours; but even then he had obligations, even on weekends like this one. He finally managed to get free at around 3 in the afternoon, and drove to the local junior high school. The sky was overcast, and the school's combination football field and running track was completely deserted. They hadn't even bothered to lock the gate. Excellent.

He walked in and strode to the center of the field. Time to try to change again. The thought of getting stuck as a woman forever still frightened him, but he was too curious about this odd gift from the aliens not to try once more. Taking one last glance to make sure no one was watching, he sang "I am woman!" and clapped his now-glowing hands together over his head.

Once again, thunder rang in his ears, the sky flashed for a couple of seconds — though this time the flashing was milder — and once again, his body turned into hers. Unlike last time, though, everything appeared in full normal colors. Well . . . almost. All the colors of the world looked a bit washed out, and the sky was brighter than it had been before. It must be how his triangular yellow eyes — no. Not his eyes. This woman's body he was staring out of wasn't Steve. It was practically a new identity. This new identity didn't have a name yet, but it certainly wasn't a "he." All right, then. Might as well own it. She was seeing the world out of her triangular yellow eyes.

Maybe the eyes saw both visible light and ultraviolet light at the same time. It would make sense. Last night's black-and-white-fest must have been because the night sky glowed with a lot more UV light than visible light, and the dim nighttime colors had been completely swamped out. Yes, she could clearly tell that the Toyota parked on the street a block away was red, not just some shade of gray. She scanned the colors on the horizon, and tried to focus on a light blue Volkswagen beetle even farther away. To her surprise, the image of the car ballooned out, and she could clearly make out its details — its driver-side rear-view mirror, its door handles, its chrome trim, the VW logo on the hubcaps, everything, as though she were standing only a couple dozen feet away from it.

"Telescopic vision," she said aloud. (Again, the feminine-pitched voice reminded her that she wasn't Steve, at least for the moment.) She had zoom lenses, just like the Six Million Dollar Man except in both eyes. Hmmm. She wondered. Did she have any of the Six Million Dollar Man's other powers? Could she run at sixty miles per hour? She looked down at her feet, and flinched. The metal bands adorning her lower legs ended right above the ankles, and below them were steel shoes. Slightly-pointed, feminine-shaped steel shoes . . . with high heels. The heels were at least two inches high, maybe more. Steve had never so much as walked in high heels before, let alone run. Well, guess it was time to learn. She hoped her heels wouldn't sink into the football field's turf, then took a tentative step and . . .

Hm. Actually, that wasn't so bad. She took another step, then another. It felt natural, as though she'd been doing it all her life. She upped her pace to a trot, then broke out into a sprint. She never came close to stumbling. Had the aliens programmed this new body with the muscle-memory of how to run in heels? Nice! She sprinted all the way to the end zone, then stopped on the proverbial dime. She wasn't even breathing hard; but there had been nothing super-human about her running speed. She could only run as fast as Steve Rorkiel, not Steve Austin.

Wait. Muscle memory? As nice as it was, it was also a bit worrisome. She thought she remembered hearing that muscle memory, despite its name, resided in the brain. She'd assumed that Steve's brain was still there, fully intact, inside this woman's body — but now she couldn't be sure. Steve's normal memories all seemed to be intact. She could still remember growing up as a boy, attending college, meeting Georgina and hitting it off right aw—

She pictured Georgina vividly in her mind. She thought back to their first night in bed together. The memory was there, every detail of it, but something felt . . . off. This memory usually brought back all of Steve's feelings of attraction toward Georgina. He'd even tingled with the memory sometimes. But this time, those feelings of attraction and desire weren't there.

Hm. Well, it was probably nothing. Georgina wasn't here, and given the try-out of this new alien-bestowed body, there were a lot of distractions going on right now. She shrugged, and made one final check of Steve's memories to ensure that everything was still there. Though if any memories were missing, she wasn't quite sure how she could tell.

She bent over to get a closer look at her metal shoes, then realized that her seemingly rigid torso armor was bending in the middle along with her. It wasn't articulated, like the joints in a suit of medieval armor or a space suit, it just . .  bent, as easily as fabric. That was odd. She straightened up, then twisted left and right, and as before her breastplate twisted right along with her. (Breastplate, she thought, glancing at the two prominent bulges on her chest. It almost made her giggle.) Was this really body armor on her torso at all? She knocked on it with her fist, and it felt as hard as steel. And yet, it could also bend. Was it like cornstarch, which will yield to a gentle push but instantly become rigid if you strike it hard?

And were the bands on her arms and legs the same? She banged on them too, and they too were unyielding like hardened steel. They hugged her limbs too closely for her to tell if they could bend under gentler pressure, though. Hmmm . . . near the top of each forearm band, she noticed a shallow protrusion that looked like it had some tiny mechanism attached. That was rigid, even under the subtlest touch. She pushed a little harder, and with a click, the whole left forearm cover split open down its length and fell away. She caught it in her right hand before it could fall very far. Huh! That protuberance must be a quick-release catch. The aliens wanted her to be able to take off her armor — or at least, her forearm armor. The metal band stayed stiff and unbending down its entire length; the arm underneath was the same womanly flesh as the rest of her exposed skin. Could she put the piece back on? She cradled the bare arm in the open metal band and clapped it shut with a satisfying click. The seam vanished, and only the release catch remained.

There was something else on the forearm band, near the elbow. It was hard to see, but a panel about an inch square moved ever-so-slightly inward when she pressed on it. The rest of the armguard was completely rigid. An identical panel was on the other forearm guard, in the same place. She could make them touch if she clacked the sides of her elbows together. They didn't seem to do anything, though. What did the aliens have in mind with these little side-elbow pushbuttons? Were there any other—

Yes. On her flanks, of all places. Each side right above her waist had a similar, but slightly larger, push-panel. She wouldn't have noticed them at all had she not brushed against one of them by accident. As she moved her arms alongside them, she noticed that these two flank pushbutons lined up nicely with the side-elbow pushbuttons on her arms. Was this intentional? She bent her arms and moved them inward, making a gesture vaguely like a chicken flapping its wings, and clacked the elbow panels against the flank panels.

Instantly, her back started rumbling and her stomach turned inside out.

She froze, not daring to move. What was happening? It looked like she was still standing up, but she couldn't feel her weight on her feet. In fact, her feet weren't even touching the ground. She was . . . weightless. Just floating in the air, a foot off the grass. Had the aliens built some kind of anti-gravity system into this new body? Had those elbow-and-flank buttons turned it on? Okay, don't panic. You need to get back down to the ground. Maybe if —

But as soon as she thought about going back down, she descended. She was back on her feet in under a second, though still not feeling her full weight. Did . . . did this magical alien anti-gravity just respond to her thoughts? Okay, let's see about that. Up. Think up. Sure enough, her weight left her and she started to waft off the ground again. Think higher. Now, the rumbling from her back got slightly louder. In addition to being weightless, it now felt like something had grabbed hold of her back and was hoisting her higher into the air. Ten feet high. Twenty feet. Fifty feet. She could see the whole field stretched out below her. Whoa! Better not get too high. At that thought, the lifting sensation from her back ceased, and the rumbling quieted back down to its original level.

Then she remembered. When Steve had first seen this body two nights ago, there had been a shiny protrusion shaped like an artillery shell sticking out of her back. The pointy end was facing up, and the flat end was facing down. It must be a rocket motor! The rumbling coming from her back must be the rocket in operation. Was there exhaust coming out right now? With great trepidation, she reached one hand behind her back, ready to yank it away instantly the moment she felt anything resembling rocket exhaust. She couldn't feel any heat, no matter how close her hand got to the center of her back. She hoped that this wasn't just a limitation of her alien-built nervous system, and that there really was no heat. She touched the surface of the protrusion, and instinctively flinched. No, it didn't feel hot either. She touched it a second time, then a third for a bit longer, and finally rested her palm against its surface. If anything, it felt slightly chilly to the touch, like cold metal. Finally, she moved her hand below the level of the protrusion's bottom and tapped two fingertips quickly into-and-out-of the edge of the exhaust stream.

Huh. No mighty wind, no searing heat. She tried again, leaving her fingers right below the rocket for a little longer. All she felt was the gentlest whisper of a breeze. The rocket was probably idling; let's see what happens when it has to do real work. Go up again, she issued the silent command, and the instant the rumbling increased and she started getting hoisted higher, a hard wind knocked her fingers away. It was pushing her upward, all right, but even then the exhaust didn't feel hot. Maybe this alien rocket tech was super-efficient. She willed herself to stop climbing, and once again slowed to a hover.

Hmmm. Up and down were all fine and good, but was there a sideways component to this new form of movement too? She thought, forward . . . but nothing happened. Odd. If she pointed the rocket in a direction off from the vertical, then maybe . . . well, it was worth a shot. She was weightless, after all. Maybe if she bent forward, pivoted around her own center-of-mass like a circus acrobat . . . it turned out to be surprisingly easy to do, almost instinctively natural. She was now prone in midair, as though she were laying on a bed. Once again, she thought, forward — and this time, the rocket kicked in and pushed her dead ahead.

She stretched her arms in front of herself to help cut through the air. She wasn't just levitating any more, she was flying. She angled upward and swooped smoothly from horizontal to vertical. Then she leaned sideways and worked her way to horizontal again, flying in a different direction. It was super easy to get the hang of maneuvering like this. More alien muscle memory? It hardly mattered. It felt exhilarating. Powerful. Like she could do anything. She soared up and levelled off, feeling her rocket pack ebb back to idle as she hovered high above and looked down on the school field-and-track where she'd just been. She could take in the whole junior high school at a glance, along with the city blocks surrounding it. Way down there, parked along the street with all the others, there was her car. Well, Steve's car. Hmmm . . . someone was standing next to it, a little too close. She zoomed in with her telescopic vision, and . . . was he fiddling with the driver's door, with some tool in his hand? The door popped open. Holy cats, that guy was stealing the car!

She angled head-first toward him, and felt both her returning weight and the rocket on her back driving her downward. She was hurtling down damn fast; better slam on the brakes if she didn't want to smash into the ground. She flipped over; her anti-gravity only nullified her weight, it couldn't help her decelerate — that all depended on the rocket pack, which now yanked upward on her with a force of several G's. The roar of her rocket must have caught the car thief's attention, as he looked up, gasped, and jumped in through the open door. She landed in front of the car, and announced, "I know who owns this car, and it isn't you. Get out!"

She saw him through the windshield, reaching for the inner door handle to pull the door closed. He'd need some encouragement to get out of the car. Without thinking, she placed her left hand under the passenger-side wheel well and lifted. To her amazement, the whole side of the car came off the ground, dumping the would-be car thief out onto the pavement. Good lord! She was holding half a car five feet in the air, with one hand, and it didn't even feel heavy. Just how strong was this alien body of hers?

She lowered the car back down — gently, for fear of breaking anything — then trotted around to the driver's side. The thief had scrambled back onto his feet, and pulled something out of his belt. She recognized it as a snub-nosed .38 special revolver just in time for him to pull the trigger. Flames puffed out the sides of its cylinder, and a bang far louder than the gun noises they showed on TV assaulted her ears. At the same time, something tapped her gently on the abdomen. Then she realized that the gun had been pointing right about at her abdomen, and she looked down in alarm, afraid of what she might see. But instead of a bullet wound, there was just a tiny dent in the metal, a crease where the bullet must've ricocheted, and it was already smoothing itself back out.

Her body armor was bulletproof!

The thief gasped, and started to pull the trigger a second time. He never finished. With one swift, fluid motion, she rushed up to him and knocked the gun out of his hand with what looked like a karate chop. Steve could never have pulled off a maneuver like that. She hadn't even thought of doing it; it was as though a combat reflex had kicked in. Yet another present from the aliens, no doubt. The thief turned around and ran as fast as he could. She thought, briefly, of catching up to him, but what would she do with him if she caught him? Turn him into the police? Oh, that would go over well. Accusing a man of car theft and assault with a deadly weapon, with no witnesses other than an alien-eyed blonde that no one had ever seen before? She'd be lucky if they didn't lock her up. Instead, she shouted after him, "Tell all your dirty friends about me. I'll be watching you!"

She watched him disappear down a side street, then realized . . . tell all his dirty friends about whom? She didn't even have a name. At least, not yet. Maybe it was time for her to pick a name. These powers of hers clearly qualified her as some kind of a super-hero, even if all she'd done so far was keep Steve's own car from getting stolen. Hmmm . . . super-heroes sometimes had names that end in "Man", like Infra Man or Spider-Man. Maybe that would work for her, too. Heck, her secret identity was a man. She took a deep, proud breath. When the need arose, and the world needed a hero, Steve Rorkiel could chant the magic phrase that turned him into a her, and become . . . Wo-Man!

I Am Wo-Man is continued in chapter 3.

Here is Wo-Man's character sheet for 5th Edition Champions™.

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