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Literature / Super Minion

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Fortress City has Super Villains, who have evil lairs, and in them they make super weapons. But when a bioweapon is granted super powers of its own, will Fortress City be able to handle the Super Minion?

Super Minion is an ongoing Superhero webnovel by Gogglesbear. It is the story of a nanotech-based creature created in a lab, which mysteriously gains mental faculties its creators didn't expect. After escaping the lab, it must navigate this strange outside world, where it will clearly require more than simple power and deadliness to survive.

Super Minion provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Justified, since it's not just sewers down there: Fortress City also has an enormous amount of subterranean real estate in the form of maintenance passages, abandoned supervillain lairs and even some monster tunnels.
  • Accidental Truth: When mutant Jasper leads the test subject through the sewers, he notes that it's inhabited by rats, supervillains and escaped bio-weapons. Neither of them realizes the irony, the former for being Locked Out of the Loop and the latter for the lack of understanding the concept of irony.
  • Achilles' Heel: Electricty is this for Tofu. It's something of a Logical Weakness, as no matter what form he takes the core of his body will be mechanical.
  • Actual Pacifist:
    • Ironically, Hellion's Henchmen's resident martial arts instructor is one. Adder spars, and is very good at it, but does not fight.
    • Nicole goes to great lengths to avoid ever hurting a person, though she hunts monsters with gusto.
  • Adventure-Friendly World:
    • The world is regularly beset by "Odd Summers", periods in which any person (or even animal) in a stressful situation might randomly gain superpowers, and various other Oddities pop up as well. Even outside of Odd Summers, there are plenty of supervillains, superheroes, powered animals, mutants, and weird creations running around to keep the place busy, as well as the endemic powered disease "mutavus" providing an ongoing supply of new mutations.
    • The supers who founded Fortress City, Architect and Overlord, deliberately gave the city a "capes and cowls"-friendly law code; for instance, a supervillain with a bunch of masked henchmen is legally treated as a single well-equipped criminal. Not only that, they built that state of affairs into the city itself. When United North America assimilated Fortress City after Overlord's death and tried to change the mask laws, the city's famous defenses automatically shut down until the changes were reversed.
  • Agony Beam: Poena's power creates colored, blade-like apparitions that cause intense psychic pain in anyone she stabs with them. The higher on the spectrum a given blade is, the more it hurts; purple ones have been known to cause heart attacks.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Tofu is pretty sure that the reason E13's hordes of sewer monsters haven't caused more problems is because Nicole lives down there and has been eating so many of them. And even she avoids will-o-wisps like the plague.
  • Anti-Magic: The monster Wandergheist produces a large "null field" in which not only powers, but also mundane energies such as electricity and explosives simply don't work. Most mutants are unaffected, but Wandergheist is also a very scary physical combatant.
  • Anti-Regeneration: see Lightning Gun below.
  • Appropriated Appellation: Hellion's Henchmen powered minions are known as "boneheads," for their white full-helmet masks and dark clothes. It was originally an insult, but by now the boneheads have made such a name for themselves that HH themselves use the term with pride.
  • The Artful Dodger: The Tinker Tots are a gang of technically-minded Artful Dodgers. They're highly annoying, due to their habit of creating minor booby traps and penny-ante extortion schemes, but considered ultimately harmless.
    Tedic: Why don't we get rid of them?
    Fred: Pft, cause they’re a bunch of kids, that’s why. What you want us to do? Blow them up? Besides, sometimes they’re useful.
  • Artificial Human: Tofu with Human.exe is an edge case.
  • Badass Biker: The Darksiders.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Poena's Agony Beam power fits well with her hyper-competitive, bullying personality.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Pebbles thinks that mutating is a better deal than triggering a power, because mutavus provides what the person needs to get out of a deadly situation, while powers provide what they want to get out of a stressful situation.
    Pebbles: They can both be cruel bastards but at least mutavus doesn't have a sense of humor.
  • Becoming the Mask: While the main character originally just used his Tofu persona as a disguise to blend into human society, he has come to consider it to be his real identity.
  • Beneficial Disease: Benedicci is a clear-cut example, as it strengthens the immune system, modifies the brain to understand tinker tech, and in some cases also provides enhanced strength, reflexes, intelligence, or regeneration. In very rare cases these improvements can be strong enough to compete with supers and powerful mutants. Mutavus is less clear-cut, as it will frequently save the lives of people with medical conditions or life-threatening injuries, but basically all results cause the patient to stand out in a crowd, And some mutations can put nearby people at risk or have other serious side effects.
  • Benevolent Boss: Hellion. She does everything she can to keep her employees safe, and provides both legal and medical services to everyone in her organization, including the unpowered henchmen who other gangs would treat as expendable.
  • Big Applesauce: It's mentioned in school that New York City straight-up disappears during Odd Summers. It becomes shrouded in fog, and emerges unchanged with no record of any intervening period (meaning that it likely has less supernatural weirdness than anywhere else). The popular theory is that the city itself triggered during the first Odd Summer.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Giant size is a common superpower/mutation for small animals to develop.
  • Big Eater: Between the energy demands of his micro units and his drive to store up nutrition resources, Tofu can eat an astonishing amount.
  • Bioweapon Beast: Tofu is a nanotech-based creature, created when a tinker scientist's attempt to tame the mutavus was given funding by a weapons-development group. He's basically Gray Goo, except that the nanobots must remain in neural contact with the control core, and are therefore confined to a single body. Many villains and mad scientists create bioweapon beasts, but rarely do they turn out anywhere near as good as Tofu. In particular, the rat-stitcher's creations are so sloppy that most of them are only kept alive at all by his power.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The heroes and groups like Hellion's Henchmen might not be perfect, but they certainly compare well to people like Espada or the rat-stitcher
  • Black Box: "Human.exe" is, basically, a program that grants human-level sapience. Tofu does not know how he got it (the test subject accepted it from a mysterious signal, dimly realizing that it would eventually be tested to destruction unless something changed), he can't access its code, and he occasionally finds potentially dangerous flaws in it, but it's far too valuable to dispense with.
  • Black Market Produce: Meat is very expensive, especially during Odd Summer, because slaughtering animals means a constant risk of one of them mutating out of control or even developing superpowers. Even keeping livestock for purposes other than meat is a risk if they get too stressed.
  • Blank Slate/Conditioned to Accept Horror: When Tofu first gets out of the lab, literally his only life experiences as a sapient being are conserving resources, facing deadly tests, and fooling the scientists who were doing the testing.
    A caged fighting stage. Physical harm. An audience that wanted to see violence. The owner of the place caring nothing for the safety of the fighters. Blood. Hmm, it was much harder to identify what emotion the Pit made me feel, but if I had to identify it... Nostalgic?
  • Bloody Murder: Sanguine's power is control over blood. He can wield it as a weapon, and also suck enemies dry if they get cut. His power also keeps his own body in perfect health, which is why he's still a feared combat villain even in his mid-nineties.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Tofu is driven *entirely* by enlightened self-interest.
  • Body Horror: Depending on exactly what it decides is necessary to protect the host, the results of mutavus can be quite horrific.
  • Boxed Crook: Buzzer and Pebbles are offered their freedom after being arrested in exchange for Buzzer helping to hunt down a vampire nest.
    • Magenta also turns out to be one of these, as she was in a gang before triggering.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Tofu can copy and incorporate any biological structure (and some non-biological ones) that he can disassemble and analyze with his micro-units. For this reason, he treasures opportunities to eat mutant and animal corpses.
  • Cast from Calories: Common enough to spur the invention of superdense "speedster MREs".
  • Catapult Nightmare: The result of Tofu's experiment with dreaming. Flaming Truck-san cometh!
  • Clock King: Trebla. His plan includes precise timetables for everything, and when the plan calls for him to arrive at noon, he does so precisely to the second. Somewhat downplayed, as he can't control everything. He has to start ad-libbing his monologue when the heroes don't show up to stop him for two minutes longer than he planned.
  • Complexity Addiction: Trebla is notorious for this. When he hires Hellion's Henchmen for the bank job, he has a whole fractal of contingency plans, most of which require precise choreography by several minions, which in turn requires each minion to remember a thick packet of instructions. It probably would have devolved into chaos if not for Tofu's ability to memorize everybody's packets.
  • Cool Old Guy: Socket, the HH company tinker.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: see Make an Example of Them, below
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The rat-stitcher. Live by the malicious human experiment, die by the malicious human experiment.
  • Deadly Gas: Central's usual response to monsters in the sewers is the flood the problem area with nerve gas. This is why Nicole doesn't report new monsters, even very dangerous ones like will-o-wisps.
  • Death World: Earth's surface outside of cities is incredibly dangerous, and the more life-rich an area is, the more dangerous. This is because anything from humans to bugs can develop devastating superpowers or fearsome mutations at any time, and there are barely enough superheroes and super-grade fighting units to keep population centers under control, never mind the countryside. Panama, for instance, is a constant warzone of humanity trying to keep the giant army ants contained. Cities are intentionally built as concrete jungles and pets and houseplants are illegal without strict permits, in order to reduce the number of living animals (and therefore potential trigger events) within the walls, and a major city was built in Death Valley to take advantage of the relatively safe environment.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Played positively. Tofu's general attitude of casual good cheer and unfazed response to bizarre situations has a way of breaking tension and reassuring stressed people. Which makes it all the creepier when his mind turns to decidedly non-cheery thoughts with the same calm, like he's checking off a box labeled "contemplate murder."
  • The Dreaded: "Cookie", a cowl distantly associated with Hellion's Henchmen. Even Hellion and her inner circle are terrified of him, but she knows that she'll have to invite him to a planned big score because the consequences of snubbing him will be worse.
  • Emergent Human: Thanks to Human.exe, Tofu has begun to experience the benefits and quirks of being human. He’s become obsessed with trying new kinds of foods, loves video-games, has developed a fascination for rectangular objects, has made friends, and begun developing a sense of empathy.
  • Enemies List: Gregor doesn't have a list of people he hates, but he does have a list of things he hates about his life, his mutant status, and society.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Tofu will happily eat anything that doesn't physically taste bad, and even if it does he can just directly absorb it with his micro-units. He definitely prefers actual good food, though.
  • Faceless Goons: Under Fortress City law, it's extremely difficult to prosecute a minion for crimes committed while masked if they evade capture at the time, even if the cops later catch the same person wearing the same mask. Therefore, masks are standard equipment for villain gangs.
  • Faking the Dead: When the test subject is escaping the lab, it creates a wire-controlled decoy body (complete with a "broken" control core inside), then weakens the powered yellow-fur's confinement and goads it into breaking out and killing the decoy.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: When a sushi octopus triggers, grows to giant size, and comes crashing out the front of the restaurant to the terror of passersby.
    Tofu: What's that?
    Pebbles: Probably the lunch special. Ifrit would you handle this? I need to talk to an idiot sushi chef about keeping live ingredients during Odd Summer.
  • Fantastic Racism: "Purists" hate mutants. The less-informed think that it's possible to "catch" mutation, the better-informed fear a "great replacement" since mutations are always heritable, and they all hate the reminder that it could always happen to them. Purist gangs are natural enemies of Hellion's Henchmen, since HH is famously mutant-friendly.
  • Fantastic Slur: Mutants are sometimes called "cockroaches,", since mutations often involve scales or chitin, and are *always* survivability-focused.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: Downplayed example with Hellion's Henchmen. Their minions' employment contract forbids actions that will encourage heroes to abandon nonlethal force, such as using superpowers to resist arrest if you're not a bonehead.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: "Nessies" are a kind of sewer-dwelling monster that's basically a giant lamprey growing from the neck of an alligator. Nicole likes nessies, and calls her favorite one Mr. Chonkers.
    • The protaganist counts even moreso, who would expect a shapeshifting, cannibalistic bioweapon with sociopathic tendencies to be named Tofu.
  • Food Porn: Being an escaped bioweapon raised on a diet of nutrient slurry, combat-test kills and partial starvation, Tofu is extremely food-focused. At one point when talking to Mikey, he spends about five minutes recounting an actual super-battle and then half an hour describing the company dinner afterward. Even the chapter titles are food-themed.
  • The Great Wall: Fortress City is famous for its massive outer wall, which is festooned with defenses and detectors fit to keep out almost anything. The city also has internal sector walls, which rise from the ground to trap any really big problem in a single sector until it can be dealt with.
  • Haunted Technology: In the current Odd Summer, the occasional car will burst into flame and start driving itself around. It's considered a low-priority problem since the flaming cars never seem to crash or hit anyone, and never have any sign of occupants.
  • Healing Factor: Regeneration is a fairly common superpower, and even many mutants can regenerate injuries given enough time and enough to eat. Tofu himself tops the scale for healing factors that aren't a power.
  • Healing Shiv: Olson provides a weird example. He has Resurrective Immortality, so if he gets wounded, finishing him off will heal him.
  • Humanity Through Alien Eyes: The test subject's narration can be quite confusing due to lack of understanding of human culture, technology and the outside world in general.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: Causing Human.exe to crash causes Tofu to temporarily fall back on the semisentient "personality" of his original core.
  • Homeless Hero: Tofu obviously has no home to go back to, and used a relatively self-contained section of tunnels as his den. He actually resists the idea of being put up in an HH company apartment (for that kind of money he could buy dozens of burgers!), but changes his tune when the idea of "home cooking" is explained to him.
  • Horror Hunger: If mutavus decides it needs more biomass to save your life, it will sometimes compel you to eat whatever is nearby, potentially including other humans.
  • Hot Pursuit: Defied. Fortress City cops have the ability to remotely shut down stock civilian cars.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...:
    • When Tofu first makes friends with Cindy, Lily pulls him aside and warns him that if he harms Cindy, she'll gut him. He realizes the source of her concern when he realizes that Cindy is a mutant, athough being Tofu, he thinks Lily is worried about attempts to harvest her valuable mutation rather than Fantastic Racism. He then feels mildly insulted that Lily might think him stupid enough to harm someone who's already protected by Hellion, who he knows could obliterate him with a thought.
    • When Tedic pervs on Nicole behind her back, Tofu politely informs him that making comments like that where Nicole could hear would put her at risk of a dangerous emotional crisis, and that he would cheerfully vivisect Tedic if he thinks that's likely to happen.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Tofu eats what he kills (or finds dead) whenever possible, and has zero problem with eating people if it comes to that. On several occasions, he only decides against actively hunting people because the risks are too high.
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: Nobody on Hellion's Henchmen, not even Olson, tries all that hard to keep Olson safe. At one point he goes on a dangerous mission with Tofu just because he'll be fine even if he dies.
  • Immunity Disability: Tofu destroys germs on contact and is therefore completely immune to infections, but that includes benedicci, which among other things grants the ability to understand the inner workings of tinker tech.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Tofu does this fairly often, such as by complaining about a particular shape he had shifted into being too attention-getting while talking to mutants who are always uncomfortably attention-getting. Fortunately, other characters are aware that he means no harm, and rarely get angry. Later defied, when he gets a chance to go to sensitivity training and is actually excited to do so.
  • Joke and Receive: Zapps messes with Tofu by telling him that Vamps have the ability to steal powers by drinking blood. A few chapters later they meet a Vamp that triggered to get a Power Copying ability.
  • Knowledge Broker: Jasper Barnigan is well-known as the best information broker in E13, with a sideline as a courier. While technically independent, he is a close ally of Hellion's Henchmen.
    Maggie:He's a greasy weasel and his fake accents aren't worth the dime they stop on... but he is the best information broker in E13. He's good at that at least.
  • Large Ham: Trebla the Terrific. In addition to staging extremely showy jobs where he gets to monologue and get in spectacular battles, he also brings along lots of high-quality video cameras so he can make and post videos of his and his minions' fights later. He also has genuinely good dramatic instincts, and greatly enjoys bonuses like being able to make an extra video debuting a cool new combatant.
    Ifrit: Trebla doesn't commit crime to earn money, Tofu. He gets money to commit villainy.
  • Laser Blade: Frankie can project one from each arm.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Hellion's Henchmen is a villain gang. They commit crimes, battle heroes, fight turf wars, and kill people. However, they also limit collateral damage, avoid killing heroes or innocents, get most of their money through relatively victimless crimes, and even fund public works.
    Now [E13] had real orphanages, and good hospitals, and a real hero team (even if they were a bit threadbare), and HH helped fund two out of three of those, while trying not to put too much of a strain on the third.
  • Lightning Gun: The go-to solution for regenerating monsters is the "bolter", a gun that charges and fires electrified rounds.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: When the escaped test subject joins the villain gang Hellion's Henchmen, it's asked to provide a call-sign, which can be any word that it finds meaningful. Its favorite thing about the world outside the lab is the food, and the best meal it's ever had was a tofu burger, so... Tofu.
  • Living Lie Detector: Sandra can detect lies even over the phone. A major part of HH job interviews is asking questions designed to reveal moles with Sandra listening.
  • Lockdown: Every once in a while, a big enough threat arises to trigger a sector lockdown, with gigantic walls rising from the ground (even cutting off underground tunnels) around the affected sector and not retracting until the threat is dealt with. Tofu finds a sector lockdown very concerning, given that neither the stitch-rat invasion nor Hellion barbecuing an entire city block were enough to trigger one.
  • The Madness Place: Tinkers sometimes get the "tinker twitch" when they're bored, have a cool idea to try out, or see something that needs tinkering to fix. They can be very productive in this state but usually can't sleep until they either satisfy the twitch or pass out from exhaustion.
  • Make an Example of Them: When Tofu kills the rat-stitcher, he takes Imp's instructions to "make a message out of him" with dreadful literalism.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Buzzer has both a superhuman ability to percieve sounds and the ability to produce sound. He can't use his ability in combat without hurting himself though.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Odd Summer, causes people under stress to occasionally manifest superpowers, which remain even after the summer ends. It also isn't limited to humans. There's also the Mutavus virus, which can trigger at any time to save someone from death.
  • Master of Your Domain: An application of Tofu's powerset is that if he needs to he can manually take over any physiological function of his body
  • Meaningful Name: Despite Tofu literally just picking his favorite food as a call-sign, it fits. Actual tofu is known for going well with many different dishes and being modifiable for many different uses, making it the perfect name for a shapeshifter minion.
  • Mega City: At maximum capacity, Fortress City could house the entire population of North America's western seaboard. It's built in rings of eight sectors, fifteen rings deep, and the sectors are so big that each one needs its own mayor and law code.
  • Misplaced Accent: Jasper tends to change accents on a whim.
  • Mosquito Miscreants: Vampires turn out to be a race of humanoid mutant mosquitos.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Tofu is a slight young man who hangs out in the bad parts of town and sees nothing wrong with taking shortcuts through dark alleys. On several occasions, street goons attempt to mug him, and then find out the hard way that he's basically a walking Gray Goo with a taste for meat. Or if they're lucky, he'll simply warn them off by flashing his Hellion's Henchmen mask.
    • At one point, a man robs a grocery store cashier at gunpoint. Tofu is so flabbergasted that someone would be stupid enough to try that in Fortress City, let alone in HH territory, that he's still trying to decide what to do about it when the cashier opens a Trap Door under the robber.
  • Mutants:
    • There is an endemic powered disease in the world called "mutavus", which is typically dormant. However, if its host's life is threatened, the mutavus will activate and rebuild the host's body to counter the threat. The mutation continues until the threat is permanently neutralized in some fashion, acquiring material for its alterations with ruthless dispatch, then stops permanently. When the escaped test subject first encounters mutants, it is under the impression that humans are manufactured, and thinks that mutants are combat models.
    • Mutavus is kept in check by a second, more socially acceptable powered germ known as "benedicci." In addition to preventing mutavus from activating spontaneously, benedicci grants the ability to understand tinker-made technology, and in some cases can even grant Captain America-style quasi-superpowers.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: Hellion's Henchmen powered minions are given customized armored suits made by Socket, the company tinker. These are almost always bulletproof, and make allowances for the wearer's power. Tofu's, for instance, can "unravel" to accomodate his extra reach, then snap back together when he pulls the limb back in, and the same ability also lets him stab knives out of unexpected places on his body. Meanwhile, HH masks are also bulletproof and carry secure comms and a sector map, all without noticeably obstructing the wearer's senses, and are collapsible as well.
  • Nano Machines: The source of most of Tofu's abilities, aside from human.exe.
  • Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters: Hellion's Henchmen. They're basically the reason E13 isn't a slum like a lot of the outer sectors.
  • The Nondescript: Tofu's default human disguise is as forgettably average as he can make an 18-year-old boy look.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Tofu isn't exactly evil, he's just self-serving and amoral. As long as what's best for him doesn't cause too many problems, he's fine.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: When the test subject acquires Human.exe, it becomes smart enough to easily ace most of the tests it's given. However, in non-combat tests it decides to succeed only on the easiest ones and merely choose the least damaging failures otherwise, since the rewards for doing well in those tests aren't very good, and it wants the scientists to think it's simply developed a knack for combat rather than a qualitative intelligence boost.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Fortress City vampires are neither undead nor human, they're actually a strain of mosquitoes that have mutated from mere parasites of humans into impostor-style predators of them. A vampire can pass in a bad light for a small mutant woman (a tempting victim for many Fortress City gangs), they're stronger and better armed than most humans, and an established nest of them can easily produce a Zerg Rush fit to bring down even a combat super.
  • Paranoia Gambit: At one point Central agents stake out Babs's clothing store, thinking that a mutant-specialized shop is a good place to start looking for HH minions, but get spotted by Tofu. On Lily's orders, Tofu reveals to the stakeout crew that he, a shapeshifter, knows about them and is messing with them, then slips away. This instantly poisons the stakeout's entire collection of evidence and forces them to burden themselves with constant Impostor Exposing Tests.
  • Perfect Play A.I./A.I. Breaker: Tofu's observational skills and body control quickly make him a technically brilliant martial artist, always choosing the correct moves and executing them flawlessly... but to an experienced martial artist like Adder, who knows what the "correct" responses to her own moves are, it makes him predictable. It's a real eye-opener for Tofu when she reveals what's going on.
  • Playing with Fire: Hellion is a very powerful pyrokinetic super. Her daughter Ifrit also plays with fire, but in her case it's a mutation, inherited from her Disappeared Dad.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Hellion's Henchmen is basically Punch Clock Villainy Inc.
  • Quirky Town: Given that Fortress city is filled with various superheros and supervillains, this goes without saying.
  • Red Shirt:
    • Defied with Hellion's minions, especially unpowered ones. Everyone who goes on missions gets bulletproof clothing, and regular minions are generally expected to just surrender if confronted by a hero without boneheads or villains to protect them. Because of Fortress City's weird laws, it's almost impossible to make any charges stick against regular minions, and HH has very good lawyers who represent even regular minions.
    • Olson is not an expendable extra, but he does get all the tasks that are likely to get someone killed, and plays it up by dressing in actual red shirts.
  • Red Light District: The Red Zone of E13. It's controlled by Hellion's Henchmen, who take pride in the fact that they are smart enough to keep it at a sustainable size, civic enough to reinvest the profit it creates in E13 itself rather than funding escapades elsewhere, and strong enough to defeat anyone who tries to take it from them.
  • Reluctant Monster: Nicole mutated three years ago into a 25-ton acid-spitting quasi-scorpion, escaped from a catastrophic-mutation containment facility, and now roams the monster-infested sewers of E13 as the apex predator of the darkness. She's also one of the most reasonable and helpful people anywhere in the setting, and lives a peaceful life tinkering with her gadgets, adjusting her environment to attract the more benign monsters, and wishing she knew some people who weren't terrified of her. And then along comes Tofu, a Blank Slate who's also at home in the hungry dark...
  • Required Secondary Powers: In addition to the flamethrower glands themselves, Ifrit's mutation also features thick fireproof hide on her hands and forearms, nictitating eyelids, and a fire-retardant chemical in her sweat. Averted with Buzzer, who can produce sound but can't use that ability it combat because he has little protection against his own ability.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Olson's power. It works instantly, every time. It's implied that he was once captured and experimented on, to the point that he's now Conditioned to Accept Horror.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Notably averted in Hellion's Henchmen. As long as it's done professionally, HH has zero problem with a minion deciding to quit the organization for any reason, even to become a hero. The only exception is if an ex-henchman reveals the identities of their former co-workers, which is a barbecuing offense.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The E13 sewers have really big rats.
    Tofu: Tiny fits in my hand, small can jump at your face from the floor, medium is this [roughly human-sized] dead one, and large hits its head on the sewer ceiling.
  • Running Gag: There are several:
    • Tofu bungling of misinterpreting metaphors.
    • Tofu’s fascination with rectangular objects.
    • Unattended vehicles have developed the tendency to spontaneously combust and start driving themselves. One even serves the same purpose as a tumbleweed in one scene.
  • Sensitivity Training: Tofu actually requests and enjoys sensitivity training, since it not only helps him avoid being Innocently Insensitive, but also illuminates the reasons for a lot of seemingly pointless social rules. He's in luck, since Hellion's Henchmen have their own in-house sensitivity trainer... and, being a supervillain's employee, that trainer is just as comfortable talking about gangland signs and codes as any other kind of politeness.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Tofu uses highly compressed muscle tissue to both store resources and provide mass for new body parts and regeneration. It actually becomes a problem at one point, as his obsession with having spare resources leads him to get so heavy and dense that it starts interfering with his own movement. Eventually Adder convinces him to pick a more reasonable weight and stick with it, since he can easily buy more food if he needs to.
  • Shout-Out: Olson, who takes a lot of risks because power allows him to recover from death, wears an actual Red Shirt.
  • Side Bet: Hellion's Henchmen have betting pools on everything.
    • Pebbles won a bet with the other Team Three minions when Tofu showed up alive and free even though he was last seen being pursued by Magenta.
    • The pool on Tofu's origins reached over $5,000, which is impressive even by "minions betting on a man of mystery" standards. Pebbles lost that one.
    • During Odd Summer, betting pools open on which sectors will get hit with a lockdown and why. Tofu pays close attention to the discussions involved because of all the interesting statistical data the bettors discuss.
  • Social Climber: To peers, Tedic is full of big talk about how he's an experienced gangster sure to climb the ranks and they should get in his good graces while they can. To powered minions and others who actually have climbed HH's ranks, he's an annoying suck-up. He's also both a slacker and a pervert.
  • Spammer: If Lily is mad at you and you physically evade her wrath, she'll sign you up to fifty different spam services.
  • The Spark of Genius: Tinker-made technology is explicitly not just cleverly-made regular technology. Its inner workings are flat-out impossible to understand without the aid of the "benedicci" powered bacterium (one reason why a benedicci inoculation is a standardized vaccine), and many (though not all) tinker inventions fail without maintenance by their creator. Additionally, tinkers are credited with feats such as being able to personally create electronic components from scratch.
  • Sssssnake Talk: Gregor can't quite keep the hiss out of his voice, to his annoyance.
  • Super Senses: Buzzer can count beating hearts in a concrete building from a block away.
  • Super Speed: Turbo. His power is an "accelerated reference frame" type of speed; he moves in a blur, but his movements don't carry any more force than a normal man's.
  • Super Spit:
    • Tofu builds a biological slingshot into his mouth, allowing him to spit bullets.
    • Nicole can spit a particularly nasty acid.
  • Technically Naked Shapeshifter: Tofu does this, although he moves away from it after he gets his minion suit from HH and some good real clothes from Babs, and Socket points out that flesh-clothes might give away his disguise by bleeding when damaged.
  • Teleport Spam: Imp can teleport himself and small objects. It makes him a terrifying gunslinger and infiltrator.
  • Those Were Only Their Scouts: The test subject's Voluntary Shapeshifting, the problem-solving abilities it gets from Human.exe, and its resultant success in combat tests make it feel like an apex predator. Then the day of escape comes, and it gets to see actual superpowers, displays of weaponry that could obliterate it in seconds, and an entire city of buildings just as big as the lab that made it, occupying an outside world with more space than it ever knew could exist. Overconfidence go bye-bye.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: tofu burgers. Tofu (the character) tends to think about any quantity of money in terms of how many burgers he could buy from his favorite restaurant.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: The story gives us two types:
    • Powers typically develop in response to psychological trauma ( akin to [[Literature/Worm Worm]]), are based on the user’s desires, and often work with no regards to the laws of physics.
    • Mutations are the result of Mutavus, a virus that triggered, that actives in response to a life threatening injury and gives its host the tools they need to survive the injury while making improvements.
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Tofu tends to store small objects on his person by simply embedding them in his mass. He can even look things up on his phone without taking it out.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The story is set near the turn of the 22nd century.
  • Undying Loyalty: While a lot of members just view HH as a (relatively) safe way to make a (very generous) paycheck, Imp and Socket, and likely a few others, remember the bad days before Hellion's rise to power and are very devoted to making sure that HH never collapses.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Given what kind of place Fortress City is, as well as the expected weirdness of the Odd Summer, most bizarre things that happen are ignored unless they are legitimately dangerous.
    Tofu: (As an unoccupied flaming police car drives past)“I’ve been noticing that a lot lately.”
  • Uriah Gambit: When the test subject creates the decoy for the yellow-fur to kill, it creates a fake control core for the scientists to find in the wreckage... including the components of its real core that allow the scientists to command it. Destroying parts of its own core is forbidden, but moving core components around is fine, and it's just too bad if a body part containing some of those components gets ripped off.
  • Verbal Backspace: Tofu's thoughts do this when "Human.exe displays behavior harmful to core".
  • Villain Protagonist: Tofu is a supervillain's minion, and he enjoys the job immensely.
  • Villains Out Shopping: One of Tofu's favorite places in the world is the local grocery store. He mentally describes it as being "like humans had decided to take all the good things they had created, and put them all in the same place."
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Tofu's micro-units can rebuild his flesh for both healing and alterations. Even without doing that, his default form is designed to easily unfurl into a spindly, multi-jointed, clawed combat form.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Electricity fries Tofu's micro-units, meaning that electrical attacks would likely actually disintegrate parts of his body.
  • Wreathed in Flames: Even when she's calm, Hellion radiates heat and throws off the occasional ember or small flame.
  • The Worf Effect: An entire elite crew of monster hunters are nearly wiped out by an expedition into E13's sewers. These are the same sewers that Tofu and Nicole take casual safaris in.
  • Xenofiction: Human.exe or no, Tofu's thought processes and physical existence are far from human.
  • Zerg Rush: It has not escaped Tofu's notice that a large, determined group of armed humans can be every bit as dangerous as a super or monster.