Iron Maiden
CGI (Voice: Charlize Theron)
Name: Sydney Elizabeth Turner
Gender: Female
Place of Birth: Chicago, IL
Age: Subjective:17. Objective: 53.
Aliases: Iron Maiden
Origin: Physical (altered human)
Grade: 11
Team: Metis
Dating: Single, seeks… anyone, really, if they're nice.
Powers and Abilities: Brick, Metamorph
Portrayed by: CGI (Voice: Charlize Theron)

Sydney Turner is literally the girl of steel. Everywhere bare skin is exposed to the light, it gleams with the color of polished steel. Her hair (cut in an asymmetric bob) is closer to blued steel - a curious mix of blues and purples, grey, and black - as are her eyebrows and eyelashes. Her eyes are green, and they catch the light and reflect that color. From her face and body shape, she'd probably be Caucasian if she was made of meat. She's muscled like an MMA fighter, on the lean side, but not so lean as she was. Perhaps she's eating better, or perhaps it's just reduced stress, but there are curves to her legs and hips that weren't there when she got here.

Syd is wearing a pair of well-worn, second-hand Levis, a very battered and somewhat too-large AC/DC tour t-shirt that might even be authentic, a very cheap, hot pink calculator watch, and Cat combat-style steel toed boots (also second hand). A cheap canvas messenger bag serves as her purse. There might even be a change of clothes in it.

Ok, I'll tell it one more time. You've heard of Iron Fist, right? Mob enforcer for the back in the 80s? Looked like he was carved out of rusty steel, eyes glowed red in any light? Broke things? Bullet proof? Pretty much everything-proof? Yeah. Him.
Well, in 1980, he was just Karol Kolczyk, a made man, Mafia soldier, murderer, racketeer, tough guy, Mafia loyalist, just like his old man before him. He was big even then. Six-four, which was tall, even in 1980, built like a prize fighter, but he was into his 40s and starting to get old. He said, later, after we were both metal, “Syd, the only old men in the Family got rank. They get younger men to do their fighting for them.” Then he buffed another rust spot off my chest. We buffed out together. He'd do mine, I'd do his. Is it weird that I was so ok being naked with him? It seemed ok at the time. “Well,” he said, “Way I see it, a man should fight his own battles. I ain't got the head to run things, and I don't want to get shot. So the only way to stay in the game how I want to play was this. And I'm sorry you got dragged into it.”
I said, “Could have gone worse for me.”
He just buffed me some more, under my chin. I closed my eyes and let the subject drop. But that was later.
What he did, what set all of this in motion, was get some money together, and set up a new business. Hire some talent, allegedly ex-Nazis, some of them. You probably haven't heard of the Hydris group, but that's what he set up. Basically, their job was to make supervillians for the Mob. Starting with him.
Thing is, when you develop a process that life changing, you really don't want to try it for the first time on a made man. If you screw it up, if he dies, or goes insane, or whatever, someone will put bullets in your head. They needed a test subject.
That…is where I came in.
I'm nobody. Never was.
Sydney Turner, that's me, was your basic white trash girl who ran away from the trailer court in 1980, at the age of 13. Doesn't matter why anymore. I worked odd jobs in the city, slept on couches, tried to use my smarts to stay away from trouble. Trouble found me anyway. I threw a punch at the wrong guy when he grabbed part of me I didn't want grabbed. Naturally my “friends” didn't stick around. His did. I got one hell of a beating. Of the beatings I've had, on a scale of one to five, this was about a three and a half. Curled up in a ball, some cracked ribs, but nothing life threatening. They stuffed me in the trunk of a car and sold me to a guy named Lenny, who I never saw. The only thing I got to wear the whole time I was with Lenny was a blindfold. I was not ok with that. Much later, when I told Karol about it, he tracked Lenny down and ripped his arms off for what he did to me. Karol did things like that. He had…a sense of right and wrong. Kind of. It seemed fair to me. Still does, to be honest.
That I was sold after only four days with Lenny to the Hydris scientists is probably a lucky break, all things considered. There were times I didn't think so. I think so now.
Anyway, they needed to test their new process, and I was living, breathing human garbage who wouldn't be missed, one way or the other.
They tested the process. On me.
I can't even begin to say what it felt like. I mean, what does pain feel like when it's so overwhelming that you can't even put a name to what hurts, or how it hurts, or even why it hurts? But you know that fiber by fiber, cell by cell, you're being taken apart, skin, bones, blood, eyes (ouch), your most tender flesh. All of it was modified, and stuck back together a bit more loosely. The process also screwed with my brain, so thinking was incredibly hard, and really it was better, if that's even the right word, when I stopped thinking and let it happen, rode the wave. Embraced the suck, as modern kids would say. Let the process change me. I should mention that they gave Karol anesthesia, based on my experience. He thanked me for that, and kissed my temple when I told him. He came out a lot more like he went in. Mentally, at least.
The process worked.
I found out much later that they fused nanomachines with my cells. All of my flesh became metal. Likewise, all my bones, my brains, fingernails and hair even. All metal. Steel, more or less. Some alloy. I'm sure the FBI knows.
They made me almost indestructible. They made me stupidly strong. They made me so my body is non-differentiated. My brain's as much in my butt as it is in my head. To kill me, you have to somehow kill all or most of my mass.
If you know anything about the Iron Fist, you've heard all this before. Once they knew the process worked, they made him, pretty much exactly the same as they made me, only bigger and stronger. If you're too young to remember, (God…) basically it goes like this:
I eat iron and steel. Oxidize it for chemical energy. I drink water or whatever. It's all mostly water. I eat other stuff too, but not much, and that only for the protein film I need for spit and snot and tears and whatnot so I have things like a sense of smell and my eyes can move in my head without squeaking.
I am a non-Newtonian fluid, to be precise. A little tension and I function as a solid. A little less tension and I become a liquid at room temperature. I can't control my movement much when I'm a liquid, but I can flow through openings of a quarter inch or larger. I worry about going down the drain while I'm sleeping. I can reshape my body a little bit, make my fingers into sharp pointy things, and like that. If you're thinking Terminator 2, that was after my time, really, but I heard rumors that Karol might have inspired that film. So yeah, kind of like that, except I can't ever look human, any more than Karol could.
I am vulnerable to electrical attacks. If you hit me with a stun gun, no matter where you hit me, it knocks me unconscious for a few minutes. I conduct electricity very well, and you zap my whole brain at once. Hydris used cattle prods. It was the early 80s. Stun guns weren't a thing yet.
My eyes are reflective. Mine glow green. Karol's glowed red, since his eyes were brown beforehand.
If you punch me, you discover that liquids aren't compressible. It probably breaks your fist, if you're normal. When Karol punched me, it threw me across the room, through cinder block walls sometimes. Sometimes I'd relax my binding force and let it go on through. Grab fist, throw Karol. He weighed nearly two thousand pounds. He weighed 290 beforehand. I weighed about a hundred, so I'm more like 600 now. A little more these days. I've been working out. He could throw a Greyhound bus. I could throw a Caddy, even back when they were all steel.
We fought a lot.
See, here's the thing. Once the process was done and I survived a few months, suggesting the process was stable, Hydris really didn't have a lot of use for me. Rather than give them time to figure out how to kill me, I offered to help train Karol. I mean, who else could stand up for practice beat-downs from Iron Fist? Who else could hit back hard enough to get his attention? No lie, it hurt a lot. But I figured it beat being dead. I was used to the fact that pain didn't mean damage, necessarily. That it was just a thing. Besides. In case you hadn't guessed, I liked Karol by the end. He wasn't smacking me around to hurt me like so many others were. I was his sparring partner. I gave as good as I could, and he took it, too. I'm sure there's an army of psychiatrists who'd say that's a really unhealthy relationship. But it was what I had.
Kind of a surrogate daughter, maybe. Two years, I lived with him like that, even after he started going out on jobs. They'd also feed us guns that needed to disappear, cars that needed to disappear, stuff like that. Karol knew more about that than I do.
It didn't last like that forever, but for two years, on balance, it wasn't too bad. I mean… I was basically a slave. That's not good. It's never good. But it wasn't that bad. Of all the things Karol did, how he treated me should be a character witness for the defense. But it didn't last, like I said. I don't really know what changed.
Maybe he wanted me out of the game before something bad happened to me, or before I got dirty with crime business. Mob guys sometimes do that, try to keep one thing pure and clean in their lives. Maybe I was that thing for him. He was that kind of man.
Doesn't matter. We buffed away each other's rust the last night I saw him, and he said, “You have to leave here. Tonight. Get dressed.”
I didn't wear clothes very often back then. There wasn't much point. When you're made of meat, your flesh gives when your clothes can't, and together they warn you where the limits of their range of motion are. When you're metal, the first thing you know about it is when they tear. My job was fighting someone just like me. He usually fought in some spandex riding pants. Originally, I'd fight in a leotard. The usual ratio was one fight, one leotard. Spandex was kind of expensive then, so eventually I stopped bothering. It was just him. He'd seen me naked a thousand times. Hugged me. Pounded the hell out of me. Never did anything nasty. Not once.
Anyway, he brought me a dress. A pretty, slinky thing, a cocktail dress. It had sequins all over, and it fit just about perfectly. Underwear, yes. Pantyhose, yes. Shoes, yes. I felt like a princess, or maybe a mob guy's girlfriend, for the first time in my life.
The shoes collapsed under my weight immediately, so I wound up wearing sneakers, so that sucked. Still.
When he came back in, he was wearing a black suit, fedora. No pin stripes or anything, but still. Mob guys dress well. And then he held out a jewelry box.
Yeah, ok, I thought I might be getting engaged too, but what was in it was a pair of diamond post earrings. Very small, very bright, set in gold. I just relaxed the skin on my ears and pushed the earrings through. Didn't hurt a bit. When I looked in the mirror, I liked what I saw. I liked how I felt. There's a song about that. "I feel pretty… oh so pretty…" and so on. It's from West Side Story. The parallels are obvious. Just wait. They get better.
He offered me his elbow. I took it, and he led me to the car.
“Where are we going?” I asked him.
“Somewhere safe,” was all he said.
“From what? I mean… what's going to hurt us?”
He got quiet after that. “We're not immortal, Syd. Don't ever think we can't die.” Then again, maybe he knew it was the last night of his life, and he wanted to protect me from the heroes. I'll never know, I guess.
I put my hand on his shoulder and tried not to tear my clothes.
Johnny Bianchi's was… well shit, I mean if you had to pick a stereotypical Italian restaurant to be a mob front, it would be Johnny's. Red checked tablecloths, Chianti bottles hung from the ceiling by the thousand, the smell of garlic and tomatoes and oregano, mandolin music, everything. We ate lasagna, and I got a little tipsy on Chianti, and we danced to the music a while, just the two of us. I felt…something. Some need, some…I don't want to call it desire, because it wasn't a sex thing, but it was… I wanted to be with him. I wanted to live more than I had. I wanted to be more than I was. He kissed me on the mouth, only the once. “We're going to make sure you're safe now, Syd. Hide you where nobody can find you. I'll come get you when it's safe.”
In the walk-in at Johnny's there were vegetable oil barrels, 55 gallon ones. A lot of them, you could see where they'd been opened and resealed. The one he led me to hadn't. It was empty, and I could smell the olive oil that had been in it.
“Get in here, sweetie.”
I shivered. Like I said, I conduct heat really fast. “But I want to help you.”
He shivered. Larger surface area. He was losing heat faster than I was. “Knowing you're safe is help enough. I'll fight my own battles. Now come on, before you're too thick to flow in here.”
So I put my hand on the bung on the drum, and flowed in, and all my pretty things dropped to the floor. Except the earrings. I took them inside me as I went liquid. Kept them safe.
The barrel was freezing cold, and I stiffened up too much too fast to reform my mouth and lungs and whatnot and say anything else. I just trusted him. He had his hand on my barrel, and through its thin plastic, on me. Somewhere. Doesn't matter where when you're a liquid. That's the last thing I remember. I assume I solidified completely after that. I don't really know. When you lower my body temperature below 40 degrees farenheit, I freeze solid, and my metabolism just…stops. Completely.
You'd know more about what happened to him than I would. I've read that he died in an all out, knock down drag-out fight, the last of the Mob Titans vs Ultra Girl, and even then he didn't stay down until she dragged him into orbit. He suffocated, then vaporized as he re-entered the atmosphere.
I can tell you that he had the choice, if he knew what was coming. Nothing stopped him from climbing into the barrel next to mine, and disappearing from the face of the Earth until…now, basically. I think he knew. I think he chose to go out the way he did. That's how he was. Ultra Girl, now known as Ms. Ultra, I forgive you. You did what you had to do.
See, I know he was a bad man. I mean, I'm not stupid. If he hadn't set up Hydris, if they hadn't bought me, I'd have wound up a dead low rent hooker, probably, or pushing drugs, or something else, but at least I'd still have been human. I wouldn't have gone through the process, and I wouldn't now be so…numb to the painful, horrible things that came afterwards. I get all that. I know he bought me, and I think owning another human being against their will is nearly the most disgusting, degrading thing you can do to that person, and to yourself. You think of him as an old-school, vicious bad man who got taken down by a more modern hero. He was all that.
I know. I know. I know.
I should hate him, and everything he stood for. But he was also Karol, who tried to cheat age, who kept me alive by making me useful, who cared at least a little about me, who was kinder to me than he had to be, who took me dancing, who made me feel like a person for the first time I can remember. He was the first person in my life who made me feel like I might actually be lovable, instead of just a source of sex. To you, he was a monster, and you're not wrong. We're just going to see him differently.
I'm ok with that.
Are you?
Anyway, Thirty-five years went by. The family, the Mob I knew, was slowly replaced by the South Americans, then the Russians, and now who knows? I don't. And of course, Karol died. I sometimes wonder if he died thinking of me, or glad that I was locked away safely while he died so he wouldn't be tempted to see me as something sexual. Maybe I misread the whole thing, and you really do just get attached to the person who scratches your back.

Anyway. I guess Johnny Bianchi himself died in the early 90s, and without the family ties, Johnny's finally went bankrupt this year. I don't know anything about that. I know I was not the only person in an oil drum in there. I am, however, the only one who was still alive. So I guess when the marshals locked the doors, inspected the place, and found the barrels, they got suspicious… I mean really, who puts olive oil in the freezer for 30 years?
The cops got called, and apparently they put a borescope through the bung into one of the barrels, found a frozen corpse, and shipped the whole lot of us to the morgue. I assume they thawed us out, one by one. I don't really know. What I do know is that I warmed up. Then woke up. I was weak. It took me two tries to pop the plastic barrel. I ate the stainless steel tray they defrosted me on without thinking, and that warmed up more. My head cleared. I felt better. Stainless always feels sparkly when I digest it. It's probably the chromium.
The medical examiner freaked out. He'd seen Iron Fist in action, maybe, or this El Muerto clown that the leftovers from Hydris must have made later by the same process. (His eyes came out blue, from the pictures I've seen. Color newspapers. Who'da thunk?) I guess El Muerto's cooling his heels in the federal power prison now, and all the ex-Hydris guys are dead, so that can't have gone well.
Anyway, I pulled myself together, into my human shape. They watched.
The weirdest thing happened. After all the time I didn't wear clothes, now, with all these strangers watched me eat their furniture…and watched my naked body take shape yeah. I felt naked. Embarrassed. That's Biblical, isn't it? When Adam and Eve first became aware of their nakedness, because they'd eaten from the tree of life which was forbidden to them? I don't know. I tried to forget all that stuff from my life before, you know? Seriously, what do you say when you are the naked steel girl with the reflective green eyes all those cops and medical examiners and whatnot are watching and getting out the mag-guns and the stun guns? “Hi? How ya doin'? Could I have some clothes please?” Something like that. When I was wrapped in a space blanket, which did a fantastic job of keeping my body heat in, I asked about Karol. They told me.
I can cry. I did. It left rusty streaks down my face, I cried so much.
So that was six months ago.
I'm still nobody.
I have no family left. My brother and my sister survived crack, but did not escape meth. My parents smoked themselves to death young. They're all gone. No living relatives within five generations. The state checked. DNA stuff. I need to learn about that.
The Mafia might as well be gone. Anyone who had anything to do with me certainly is. Prison, age, bullets in the head…in those circles that's all natural attrition. I know jack about the modern crew. Which is probably good. I might have a grudge to settle with them otherwise.
Karol's gone. It's probably a good thing. I can remember him how he was in his last shining moment, and not deal with everything else he was. I don't have to visit him in prison, don't have to see how much older he got, don't have to watch him die of old age.
I'm fifty. Seriously, it's been 50 years since I was born. The catch is, I was only awake for 15 of them. So the court ordered a psych evaluation (Gee, I have trauma issues and PTSD, who'da thunk?). The report said that my mental and biological age is still only fifteen, and the court ruled I'm still a minor. They made me a ward of the state.
So I have a foster family now, at least on paper. They seem nice, like the kind of people who'd take in a fighting dog to try and gentle him into a pet. They've been trying it with me. I guess it's taking, a little. I lost my temper with them once. I didn't break anything. There was just a lot of yelling, but now they're scared of me. I don't blame them. I'm strong enough to throw their crappy minivan to the roof. I lost my temper with Karol all the time, and he with me, but it never mattered that much. We'd just whale on each other until we were tired, or felt better. It matters now. It's life and death now.
That, pretty much, is why we all agreed I should go to Coral Springs.
It's been a long, stupid, frustrating drive. Crappy minivans don't like having six-hundred pound loads in seats, but I couldn't legally ride without a seatbelt. Like I could be hurt in a car wreck. Like a seatbelt would even slow me down. Of course, being solid meant I had to be awake the whole time. I caved in a motel bathtub in the first night we were out. Six hundred pounds, folks. Cheap plastic bathtubs won't take that. I'm lucky we were on the first floor. The traffic was incredible. Seriously, where did all these cars come from while I was gone? And why are they all so ugly?
Anyway. I'm here now. The school is made for people like me. Maybe I can make something positive out of my life after all.



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