Larva Lass places her hands on her hips and whips her ponytail from the side of her face.
"Another bang-up job, if I may so myself," she says with with a sly smile. The guards at First Alpha City Bank didn't stand a chance against her mind-controlled, super-strong, super-hero. With one flick of his atomic-powered wrist, Deltoid Man sent two guards flying across the hallway. Now, nothing stood between Larva Lass and all the money she needed to finance her final science project.
Of course, she wasn't always known as Larva Lass. Up until last year, she was just meek, nerdy Lena Langham, a scrawny, unattractive biology student at Alpha State University. A gangling and awkward kid, she never did much socializing in middle or high school. Instead of partying or going out on dates, she spent her evenings collecting and studying insects. Oh, those magnificent, unheralded creatures - the perfect evolutionary beings, with biological advantages that no other species on earth has developed. She was mesmerized by their colonies and especially their bio-chemistry. Queen ants could secrete pheromones that make all women subservient to her and drive all the men into a hormonal frenzy. How badly Lena wanted to be that desirable - and that powerful.
Things were going normal enough until Lena's junior year. She received a work-study grant to help the university on a project exploring the mating habits of beetles. To most people, it wouldn't be that exciting, but to Lena, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How long she had waited to explore the genetics of insects, to extrapolate their enzymes and find ways to apply their marvelous chemistry to the human world.
When everyone else left the lab, Lena decided to run a few unsanctioned experiments of her own. Drawing out the enzymes from honey bees and cicadas and slugs and a whole host of other bugs, she was able to synthesize dozens of highly-potent pheromones, toxins and solvents. Of course, it was only a matter of time before Lena got curious about the applicability on human subjects, so secretively, she started carrying out some "tests." First, she used a powerful, synthesized wasp toxin to spike a particularly nasty cheerleader's diet cola (she laughed her head off watching her head swell to nearly twice its size in the cafeteria.) Then she tried out a special synthetic, snail derived glue on a frat boy who made fun of her - it took 24 hours in the E.R. to eventually break the adhesive cocoon from his hand, which was welded to his crotch thanks to lab "accident" on Lena's behalf. Then, there were the ant pheromones - after she used them to seduce her faculty chair into giving her straight A's, she knew the world was practically hers.
Eventually, a concerned lab assistant uncovered Lena's experiments and ratted her out. Not only did it get her kicked out of the university, it got her under the scrutiny of the law. The night before her trial - bioterror charges are taken pretty seriously, surprisingly - Lena decided to conduct one final experiment on herself. She had mixed together a powerful designer enzyme combining the spliced DNA of a dozen insects - cicadas and slugs and wasps among them - with the hopes of creating the perfect mind-control potion. Since the concoction was synched up with her own genetics in mind, she hypothesized that if she drank the entire mixture, the effects wouldn't be lethal - oh no, they would forever alter her genetic structure, giving her the durability of the most rugged insects in the world ... as well as the almost telepathic abilities of a hive queen.
Much to Lena's surprise, the combination didn't transform her into some sort of half woman, half bug chimera. Instead, it merely changed the color of her - all of her hair - an unusual dark green. "Great, after all of the R&D, when the judge throws the book at me, not only will I not be able to break free, I am going to look like a clown in front of the media and everybody," she thought aloud.
But then she noticed other changes. The tips of her nails were now razor sharp, exuding a clear-yellowish fluid like a bee's stinger. She poked herself in the arm - although her skin looked perfectly normal, it was now as hard as a rock, as impenetrable as an exoskeleton. Then she noticed her lips - now a soft dark green, she observed what seemed to be small bubbles coming out of her pores. She wiped her fingertip across her mouth and rubbed the juice on her tongue. "...royal jelly!" she remarked.
It may not have been how she thought she would look, but for Lena, the great transformation had nonetheless taken shape. The night before her big trial - one that garnered quite a bit of media attention - Lena faked her own death by "exploding" herself in the very lab she conducted her unauthorized research. This allowed Lena to go underground - literally - and begin working on her new career path: good old fashioned crime.
It started with the simple stuff: using her pheromone sprays and venomous stingers, she would rob random businessmen and collect their wallets. Before long, however, she started getting into the racketeering business, collecting all sorts of extremely volatile (and illegal for for civilian use) chemicals to further her studies. Her underground lab - fittingly enough, just a few dozen feet underneath the exploded Alpha State building - soon became a den of bizarre cybernetic and insectoid wonders. She created a tranquilizer gun filled with a super venom derived from the world's deadliest wasps, ants and scorpions - one needle prick, and whoever was on the receiving end would experience the equivalent of 1,000 African honey bee stings. Another of her favorite inventions was the slime cannon - basically, a backpack vacuum-like apparatus that was filled with an incredibly sticky - and incredibly fast-bonding - adhesive derived from slug DNA. Then there were her pheromone-based mind control weapons - perfumes, nail polish, and her personal favorite, a specially designed lip gloss that allowed her to instantly seduce any man into her bidding with a single kiss.
Of course, Lena had bigger projects in mind. And thanks to the help of Deltoid Man, she was now on the verge of having enough capital to get her grandest - and most gruesome - scheme off the ground.
"Now darling, why don't you go be a dear and yank that vault door open," she commanded the muscular super-hero. So many times has he foiled her villainous schemes - the time she tried to unleash mutant hissing beetles on the city, the time she tried to crash the Fourth of July parade with a giant, genetically modified centipede, etc. But this time, HE was under her spell. Thanks to the pheromones wafting through his nostrils, he is completely beholden to anything Larva Lass says. Of course, that makes her wonder - just how long does the stuff last, anyway?
Deltoid Man - unbeknownst to anyone, including Larva Lass, the 28-year-old Bryant Carr, a mild-mannered electronic store clerk by day who was actually a student in one of Lena's biology classes - yanks the vault door open, just as he is commanded. Sure enough, the room is loaded with sacks of money and gold bars. Who knows how many millions - maybe even hundreds of millions - was right at Larva Lass' feet?
"Amanda, Yvonne ... if you don't mind, do you feel like helping your boss collect her dues?"
Amanda and Yvonne were two 20-year-old Alpha State college students who, unwisely, decided to answer a Craigslist ad placed by Larva Lass looking for "research assistants." While Larva Lass' designer pheromones don't work on women, something else does - the royal jelly secreted by her lips. For the first couple of job seekers, Larva loss simply "poisoned" their drinks by spitting in them. When that didn't prove as potent a persuasive agent as she had hoped, she decided to greet her new hires with amicable open-mouth kiss instead. A friendly little one-minute French per week, she deduced, introduced enough of the jelly into her subservients blood stream to keep them compliant for at least a week at a time.
Amanda and Yvonne dropped their slime cannons and started emptying the money into their burlap sacks. Meanwhile, Larva Lass detects a quizzical look stretching across Deltoid Man's face.
"What's wrong, honey?" she asks.
"I, uh ... wow, my head feels ..." he responds, rubbing his helmet like he was nursing a hangover. "What ... what am I doing here, exactly?"
Uh-oh. Does that mean the pheromone spray has run out?
"Amanda, Yvonne ... abort mission!" Larva Lass screams.
Her shriek is enough to bring Deltoid Man roaring back to his senses. "Larva Lass!" he exclaims. "Trying to knock off a bank, I see. Such a super villain cliche, don't you think?"
Of course, Deltoid Man had no recollections of falling under Larva Lass' spell. The entire last 24 hours are a complete mystery. But that doesn't give any comfort to Larva Lass, who quickly rummages through her purse for ANYTHING to subdue Alpha City's towering protector.
"Oh, out of your favorite chapstick, or trying to find your contact case?" Deltoid Man says with a smirk. "I hate to hit a lady, but Lena ... calling you a lady is really stretching it!"
"Not so fast, Deltoid Man!" she responds. That gives her enough time to pull her tranq gun out and squeeze off one arrow at him. She misses.
"Nice aim, Stevie Wonder," Deltoid Man says. That's when Larva Lass lunges at him, slashing the side of his cheek with her venomous fingernails. It's not enough to take him out of the equation, she realizes, but the toxins ought to be enough to at least slow him down until she can formulate an escape plan.
First, she throws down her exploding "hissing beetle" earrings, but Deltoid Man easily evades the toxic fog that emerges from the broken vessels. Her poison-tipped butterfly throwing stars similarly miss their marks. "Where's the goddamn lipgloss!" she thinks aloud.
Deltoid Man snatches the purse out of her hands and tosses it aside. "Alright, Lena, it's time to end this charade. You know how this always ends ... and this time, I am going to make sure they send you to the ant farm for a LONG time to come."
Larva Lass bites her quivering bottom lip. "Oh...ok. Arrest me. Go ahead, I know I've done something wrong ... and I am remorseful."
She begins crying. It takes Deltoid Man aback. "Well, uh ... I'm glad you feel sorry, I guess. Anyhoo, it's time to take you in."
Then, Larva Lass' crying turns into a scary, maddening laugh.
"What the hell's wrong with you, you little psycho?" Deltoid Man remarks. "I knew you were crazy, but this is just absurd!"
Unfortunately, Deltoid Man had fallen right into her trap. All that time chasing after her, and he totally forgot about Amanda and Yvonne.
And their respective slime cannons.
"Hit 'em, girls!" Larva Lass leaps out of the way. Before Deltoid Man even has time to turn around, he is blasted by a double stream of viscous, instantly hardening goop.
He collapses to the ground, the slug spray coalescing into an almost iron tight cocoon.
The two college students empty their canisters on Deltoid Man. He's now covered head to toe in the gunk, practically supergluing him to the floor.
"Well, looks like I've caught myself a little fly, huh?" Larva Lass says with an evil laugh.
Deltoid Man struggles to break free. The more he fights, however, the more the slime molds itself to his body.
"So it looks like the latest pheromone spray only has a 24-hour life span," Larva Lass says. "I kinda' figured it wouldn't last as long with a super-hero like you. Honestly, I am surprised you were as obedient as you were for that long."
She walks over to her purse and pulls out a slim, black cylinder.
"Which, of course, was just the beta product."
Deltoid Man grits his teeth. "What do you have up your sleeve now, Larva Lass-hole?" he says.
"My, my, no need for name-calling!" Larva Lass replies. "Then again, as soon as I administer your next dose, I won't have to worry about you disobeying my orders EVER again..."
She uncaps the cylinder, revealing a dark green - and glowing - lipstick.
"The pheromone lip gloss was cute, but it was just a prototype," she said. "This is the REAL weapon of mass destruction. Are you familiar with the term 'lasioglossum hemichalceum,' Deltoid Man?"
"No, and I really don't care, you crazy bi..."
"They are more commonly known as the 'sweat bee,' dear. And do you know how they communicate? It is through a rather delightful little hobby called trophallaxis - basically, they vomit chemicals in each other's mouths."
Deltoid Man gags a little, fearful of what Larva Lass' latest trap might entail.
"Which got me thinking about how useful such oral means of persuasion could be," she continues. This little lipstick of mine combines the most potent hormonal mixture of female insects known to man - a cocktail of the most powerful sex-pheromones in the animal kingdom. All it takes is one taste of this delectable love potion, and you will be my slave forever."
Having tasted Larva Lass' venomous lips before, Deltoid Man awaits her next move.
She sexily slicks the glowing green lipstick on her mouth. Amanda and Yvonne grab Deltoid man and sit him upright. Larva Lass walks closer to him, her mouth already puckered.
"Time to open wide, lover..." she coos.
Right before her lips brush against his, however, Deltoid Man's helmet extends over his face, like a giant mouth guard.
"The joke's on you, Larva Lass!" He chuckles. "It's literally a five dollar upgrade to the suit. Even if you have me glued right here, how are you going to give me the kiss of death if you can't get inside my mouth?"
Larva Lass just stands there, perplexed. He's got a point, she thinks to herself. How is she going to administer the potent dose if she can't kiss him?
She takes a step back. Then, she realizes a weakness Deltoid Man never considered.
"Well, it is true that I can't kiss you," Larva Lass replies. "Then again, there are ... other ways ... to apply the lipstick."
"Huh?" Deltoid Man gasps. "How?"
Larva Lass smiles a mischievous smile and looks down at Deltoid Man's pants.
"Hmm ... it doesn't look like you have any armor protecting your zipper, do you?"
Amanda and Yvonne grab Deltoid Man by both sides of his face, as Larva Lass applies a double thick coat of the toxic lipstick. She reaches down with her free hand, and slowly unzips Deltoid's pants.
"Like I said, Deltoid Man - I can apply any form of ORAL persuasion I want..."