The fast beat echoed through John Phillip Tuba’s arcade as the two girls dueled on dance contest machines. Neon lights reflected off of the hair and exposed skin of the contestants, each dressed in halter tops and bikini-styled cut off jeans. Keeping up with two beats per second had the girls’ muscular legs rippling with every bounce and hop they took. Once the song ended, both girls hopped back off of the platforms to the floor. “That was close, Candi, but you won this round, ninety-eight percent to ninety-five.” Tina’s abdominals flexed with each breath as she used the back of one hand to wipe her forehead.
Not far away, a tall, tow-headed girl sat with her much darker sister. “What am I doing here?” she asked.
“C’mon, Angel,” Kat Delacroix chided, “you don’t get out and have fun near enough! Have you ever even tried to dance?”
Angel rolled her eyes, glittering topaz in the dim light. “I hardly think dance is something that merits serious consideration, right now. Have you not read the news?” She turned to another young woman who’d accompanied them. “What do you think, Elsa?”
Elsa gulped. The shapely, almond-eyed girl reached to scratch behind her large puppy’s ear as she replied, “I bet it’s some aliens running around, like in that superhero film.” She was dressed in a simple t-shirt with a dog paw design, jeans and boots. She also had a long carry pack slung over one shoulder. “Are you sure that I should do that? I’m supposed to be ready for battle at times.” She tousled her dog’s fur. “It’s okay Ragna. Everyone here likes you.”
“Yes, we all like Ragna. She is a good influence on you. But, yes, I was talking about the ominous stories papa read me from the Weekend.” Angel replied.
Kat rolled her eyes. “I don’t think aliens are going to pop out of the DJ’s booth if you get your dance on, tonight. Come on! There’s an opening and you only have to beat out some teeny-bopper in pigtails. Even you can do that!”
Back at the dance machines, Sadie Hawkins waited patiently for the next contestant, letting the music flow through her.
“Okay, is anyone looking to challenge me, or am I to wait for the winner of the next duel?” Candi asked. The brown-haired, muscular girl leaned back against a tall fighting game console and took a sip from a water bottle. She looked toward the slender girl “You’re being awful quiet. Do you want a turn, or want to take on the reigning champion of the last five minutes?”
Sadie looked up at Candi and a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “I might give it a shot,” she said. “Got any tips for me?”
“Play into her ego.” Tina said. “Her overconfidence will be her undoing.”
Candi looked over to her friend. “Zen dance contest advice?”
Unsure, Elsa stopped for a moment. 'Damn' She thought. 'I don't want to look like a loser.' She scratched her dog by its ears a bit more and then got to her feet “ Screw it, I’ll do it!”
After several rounds, the group had gathered on the arcade’s second floor. “You’re really going to eat that?” Tina pointed to the lime sherbet, chocolate ice cream and assorted toppings that Candi had in front of her.
“Having an indestructible stomach is a great super power. It pays to be a were-mouse.” Candi paused, then said “It’s not going to go to my waist or hips or whatever. I’ve got a high metabolism.” She looked to the raven-haired girl. “I’m not keeping it a secret that I’m not really human.”
Sadie snorted. “I have a high metabolism,” the skinny girl interjected; “you have a nuclear metabolism.”
Elsa took a bite of her plain vanilla and sprinkles ice cream cone. “I haven’t eaten ice cream in a long time.” She looked at Tina’s and Candi’s abdominals, and felt a twinge of guilt as she swallowed it. Her puppy, Ragnara circled her, catching the occasional drips.
Kat and Angel joined the small group. “Hey, ladies,” Kat called, “I’m heading home. I have classes in the morning… the joy of college life. Can one of you make sure my sister makes it home?”
Angel frowned slightly. “I can make it on my own, you know,” she huffed.
“Sure, except you’d probably get sidetracked helping little orphan kittens across the city or something,” Kat laughed. She looked directly at Elsa. “You, especially— you know what she’s like. Make sure she doesn’t get too sidetracked?”
“I think she’ll be safe.” Tina replied. “I think I’m able to take care of anyone who’d cause any trouble.” The highschool freshman smirked. “Or miss perfect body could handle a crowd of thugs.”
“I’m not worried about trouble,” Kat confided, “I’m worried that she’ll get distracted and forget to find her way home. You wouldn’t think she’d have so much trouble with those giant wings on her back, but you’d be wrong. And our parents would worry.”
“Yeah, you’re doing so poorly in that category, coming in second place to Uri, the strength goddess.” Candi replied to Tina. She paused for a second. “Wings?”
Angel blushed slightly and the glamor hiding her wings shifted so that the girls suddenly noticed the enormous, white wings that they’d been unconsciously ignoring all along. “Sorry,” Angel said, “I didn’t mean to do that. It’s just a habit.”
“Woah..” Tina reached out hesitatingly toward the expansive, feathered wings. “Does this mean that you really are an angel?”
“I don’t think so,” Angel answered.
“Nobody gave her a rule book,” Kat put in, “but she sure has a stick up her woo-hoo about doing the right thing.”
“She’d get along just fine with Comet Girl, then.” Candi added.
Kat looked at the group one more time, grinned, and waved. “And on that note,” she said, sauntering away, “I’m off!”
Elsa smiled as Kat walked off “Catch you later and don’t be a stranger! Now, Ragnara, stick with Angel and make sure she stays safe.” Her dog barked and took a place at Angel’s side.
“You’re okay hanging out with some high school girls?” Candi asked Angel. “Wouldn’t you normally be doing things like flying around, healing people and smiting evil?”
Angel laughed a little self consciously. “I’m a high-school girl,” she said, “and I was never any good at smiting. I wouldn’t even know how to start.”
Elsa placed her hand close to Angel's shoulder, “That’s okay, Angel, we’ve got others here who can handle the smiting. We need to have some fun and maybe get into some trouble.” Ragnara gave Elsa a puppy-dog equivalent of a frown, making it look like she understood a lot more than she should have.
“Which schools do you two go to? Tina, Sadie, and I go to Eastlake High.” Candi asked.
“Well, I am from Meansville High School. I’m a part of their sword fighting club and was on the wrestling team until recently.” Elsa responded with pride, standing straight and holding her prodigious chest high.
Sadie looked impressed. “I know someone who wishes he was going there,” she commented. “Lucas took a real shine to sword fighting when we were… uh… away.”
“I’m at Chembryl,” Angel said, “I’m a senior, but I was held back.”
“Lucas is Heather’s younger brother, the girl who won the all-around at the NPC Bayou Muscle Show. You know, the most buff girl on earth.” Tina said. “Anyway, Candi and I were gonna be conveniently helpless in some bad part of town tonight.” She clasped her hands together in front of her waist. “It wouldn’t be our fault if some awful thugs bit off a bit more than they could chew, right?”
Sadie laughed. “I can record it all on my phone for the next Blazing Trails, right?”
Angel frowned. “Why would you seek confrontation with bad men?” she asked.
“It keeps them from doing it to anyone else.” Tina said.
Candi interrupted her, saying “We’d be smiting evil.” She smiled at Angel, then looked to Sadie. “It would have to be posted anonymously, right?”
Elsa sighed, “Well, I’m a normal, so I guess no one wants to know my story. I’m just trying to do my bit to help and not draw any attention to myself. Yes, just a normal girl.”
“Your stating that you don't want attention just screams that you do. It’s reverse psychology.” Candi replied. “You’re hiding something.”
“I’m a troubled teenager, I have a lot of things I’m hiding. Maybe it’s not that bad.” Elsa stood at attention. “It's not like I was a switch until recently or a leader of any sort. You know, just normal.”
“Ooh, there’s a lot there.” Candi beamed. “Now I’m really interested. What do you mean by being a switch, and what are you in charge of?” She rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet, with her arms behind her, causing her quadriceps to flex and swell. “Is there some kind of mystery?”
“I shouldn’t have said all of that.” Elsa looks around to see that no one else was paying too much attention. She lowered her voice to say “Let's say the organization part can be talked about later.” She took a couple of deep breaths, causing her breasts to bob up and down. “The switch part is a funny story. Let's say I was raised as a guy for 11 years and was an awesome one. Then, my body gave out and I sort of transformed. The doctors guess that I am stuck in this cute little form. After that I got kicked out of the wrestling team because they think that I am super powered.”
Tina said “I don’t think that I’d refer to your form as ‘little’. Not when you’ve got these.” She used two fingers from each hand to cup under Elsa’s breasts to lift them an inch. “So, which do you like better, being a guy or being a girl? Also, do you have any kind of superpowers?”
“Is your transformation a power, a curse, or a disease?” Angel asked, a small furrow forming on her brow. “If it is a curse or a disease, I might be able to cure you. If it is a power or natural, though, attempting such a correction might turn out badly.”
Sadie rolled her eyes. “Personally, I can’t understand why you’d want to be a guy when you’ve got a body like that… I mean, with those boobs, it’s like you’ve got the powers of as many men as you can talk to.” She batted her eyes and continued in a saccharine-sweet voice, “oh, please, kind sir, can you push my car 15 miles through the mud? I’d be ever so grateful!”
“The power to drive men wild.” Candi chuckled.
Elsa’s cheeks flushed pink, “No! About the guy or girl thing, I...liked being a boy. I had an identity as one. You know.. The star athlete. The popular guy. Now it's pretty much gone, but there is one positive out of all of this. My body hurts a lot less or not at all. I think I have a power, but it is difficult to explain.” Elsa took a couple of breaths to compose herself. “The doctors guessed that what do is to see the memories of my ancestors and take in their abilities. I can remember skills and languages. It’s kind of a trade-off for me not being a switch anymore in a weird cosmic way.”
“Oh.. Kay. I think I see what you’re saying. You were a guy who could change to be a girl, and now you’re, like, permanently a girl now.” Tina took a half step back. “I don’t get why you were in some kinda constant pain, though.”
Elsa looked down “Holding the male form took a lot of energy, but I was raised as one.. I tried to fit everyone's expectation to be strong. It often became painful to hold it for so long. A couple of times I was able to hold it for a full year.” She laughed. “I know. Stupid crap, right? It was a chore to hide the pain but it’s what I was expected to do.” Elsa whispered ‘I don’t think I drive guys mad..”
“You aren’t trying hard enough, then,” Sadie remarked.
The ‘Plink! Plink! Plunk!” of water dripping echoed in the dimly lit chamber. Shards of light invaded the darkness from between boards laced into place with wire.
“What do you think is going to happen to us?” One of the captives looked up to the mostly blocked window.
“I doubt it’s going to be good.” The reply was interrupted by the grating sound of the rusted metal door being opened.
“Preparations for your enhanced volunteerism have been completed. You shall soon know the euphoria of joining with us.” Several figures entered the room, each of which was covered with a metallo-organic looking exoskeleton. One of the prisoners pushed himself back against the chamber’s damp wall, hyperventilating.
“Confidence and peace await you all.” The figures moved to secure the people in the room, then brought them out into the hall. They were ushered alongside the main channel of the city’s sewer, toward a pumping room.
Two of the figures held one of the captives in place as a third pulled a writhing mauve slug out of a box and placed it so that it would crawl into the person’s nose. As the victim screamed, he said “Good.. Good. Soon you will all grow into fine soldiers.
After several minutes, the captives stopped shivering on contorting on the ground. They calmly got to their feet, looking to the lead figure through opal eyes. “We have joined. We are one. Long live Lord Entropy!”
The head figure raised his fist, followed by all of the others in the room. “He is mother! He is father!”
“Okay. We’ve all gone through the ‘tell us about how you got your abilities’ talk.” Tina said. “The reason that Candi and I are out tonight is to try and attract the attention of violent creeps. The idea is that if they get beat up by us, then they won’t be bothering anyone else. I think that’s not gonna work, as there’s too many of us, and people like that are easily scared off.”
“That means we’ve got to go to ‘plan B’. There always needs to be a ‘plan B’. Never let anyone know if you don’t have one. Bluff if you have to.” Candi clutched her hands together behind her back as she walked back and forth in front of the others.
“Is ‘Plan B’ all about me looking like a damsel in distress?” Sadie asked, grinning whimsically and batting her eyes. “Oh, please, Mr. Bad Guy, don’t hurt me! I’m ever-so defenseless. What will I ever do?”
“I could just do a stealth kill on these guys. I mean it's what I am skilled at. I am not armed or anything.” Elsa thought “Damn, I sound like a barbarian from the 10th century.”
Angel frowned unhappily.
“Um, could you think for a little bit, then say what you’d like to do again?” Tina said. “You told us earlier that you’re good at fighting, but so am I, and so is Candi. She’s really, really good at it, but what do you mean by being really good at stealth killing people?”
“Oh nothing, nothing, nothing, I meant stealth knocking them out! It's what I do! It's my martial art training, I try to learn historical martial arts from europe and a bit of asia.” Elsa seemed more hesitant as she talked. “Besides, killing is bad and is not the answer, ever!” She breathed for a moment and calmed down, “I am just thinking out loud is all.”
Candi put her forefinger vertically over Elsa’s lips. “You’re rambling. You’re also backtracking. That is not a good sign.” She pursed her lips as she thought. “You meant what you said and you’re trying to cover it.” She crossed her arms. “It’s time for some honesty. Being able to detect B.S. is a kind of survival trait for therianthropes. What are you hiding?”
Elsa looked defeated “If I tell you, will you chase me to the end of the earth?” She frowned, “I am serious here. I am not proud of what I am going to say. You have to promise me that you won’t chase me.”
“I’m not promising anything.” Candi shifted into her were-mouse form. Her body shifted to have a brown over tan coloration, with a snout, buck teeth, round ears and a tail. She stood on the balls of her feet, in what was obviously a fighting stance. “Tell me what you’re hiding.”
Elsa replied in Navajo, “I don’t fear you.” She then shifted to English “I am not here to kill you. Wasn’t our time together enough to say this? I am being trained to become an assassin. Is that enough?”
“We have talked about this,” Angel said in her cool, clear voice. “It is your choice whether you rule your destiny or are ruled by it.”
The mouse-girl cleared her throat. “Oh-kay.. Let me get this straight.” She reached a hand behind her into her tiny carry-pack to take out her meteor hammer. It was a narrow gauge chain with a weight shaped like a cartoon mouse’ head at its end. “We’re all supposed to feel comforted by you saying that you didn’t kill any of us. It’s also supposed to be acceptable that you are training to murder people for hire. That is the opposite of heroic, unless you are training to be the Punisher.”
Elsa gulped, “Believe it or not, I want to change my destiny. I don’t want to kill anyone. The thought of it scares me. I’m not a killer and I don’t think my heart will allow it.” She wiped some sweat off of her forehead with the back of one hand. “I am human, too and I have yet to kill anyone. That is the truth. I know you may not believe it, but it’s the truth. I have a knife in my bookbag and it has not taken a life. It is there for self-protection. By my honor as a warrior, I have not taken a life.” She grabbed her bag and took her shortsword out, “Here is my seax and my honor as proof.”
“For most people, having a weapon that’s never killed anyone isn’t really a stretch. In fact, most people never even use weapons, whether they own and carry them or not,” Sadie remarked.
“You are not going to be taking anyone’s life. I’m not going to make any threats about it, though. This has to be your decision, but if you are the type of person who would want to do so, you are not the type of person who should be trusted to ever own a weapon or to be trained for it.” Candi replied. “This isn’t the dark ages and you aren’t some kind of medieval warrior.”
Elsa whispered “Tell that to the people who hire us.”
“Are we agreed, then?” Angel asked. “There will be no killing tonight?”
Elsa smiled, stood up and saluted “Yes ma’am.”
“Let’s add a longer time frame into that.” Candi added. “Is that agreed.”
Elsa smiled as she wrapped her arms around her large chest, “The future can hold anything. I can’t say what will happen then. Now are we going to get some bad guys or not?”
Sadie sidled up to Elsa and stage whispered, “If it’s any consolation, Gary says that he really likes you. He thinks that you have a lot of potential.”
Elsa asked “Who’s Gary?”
“My stepmom calls him my imaginary demon,” Sadie shrugged, “but he’s okay, mostly.”
“This is the usual area that we’d go ‘hunting’ in.” Tina said as the group walked past a boarded up row of strip stores.
“It’s more like fishing. You toss out bait to see if there are any predators around.” Candi added.
Elsa nodded and wrapped the knife strap around her waist, “Sounds good to me.” She unsheathed the blade and stood at the ready.
“I don’t think we’re going to get anyone to bother us when there’s five of us, especially if one of us is carrying a sword.” Candi said.
“We might get the attention of the police.” Tina patted Elsa’s shoulder. “It might work better if you had that put away.”
Elsa huffed “Fine.” She sheathed her blade, put it back in her bag and rubbed her puppy’s chin, “I understand.” She knelt down quickly like a ninja, “I won’t be seen!”
“Let’s see if we get lucky.” Tina replied.
As the throbbing beat from the live band inside The Dive filled the air, the front door bouncer looked to his partner. “You see? Going legit has its perks. We don’t get paid as much, but we don’t have to worry about getting the crap beaten out of us by some kinda hyper-muscled superheroine. We’re not gonna have Comet Girl or Redemption or someone busting out chops here.”
“That’s all fine and good, but we can really use them about now.” His partner pointed to the street corner. “Look!” A group of people with exoskeletons criss-crossing their bodies were approaching the club.
“Do any of you hear that?” Candi asked. “There’s gunshots and shouts coming from that direction.” She pointed ahead as she sped up into a jog. When she got confused stares as her answer, she used a finger to tweak her ear. “Enhanced hearing.”
“I was just surprised that you identified what that noise was,” Sadie shrugged. “I had no idea.”
Candi smirked. “It’s a very distinctive sound.” She stopped and concentrated, shifting to her were-mouse form. The girl gained a couple of inches in height as she gained brown and tan fur, large round ears, a tail and short snout.
Elsa said as she grabbed the sheath of her seax knife, “Baby Ragnara, run and find a place to hide.” She sensed a fight “Friends, is it alright that I unsheath my blade?”
“It’s probably better than beating someone with it inside its sheath.” Tina replied. After a short while, the girl held her arms out to the sides, to stop anyone who was behind her from passing as she stopped. “Whoa. That looks really bad.”
Beneath the neon sign for “The Dive”, the group of cyborgs advanced, zombie-like, towards the bouncers. A couple of them staggered as they were shot, but soon regained their footing. “That is really messed-up. We’ve got to help them!” Other cyborgs were moving around the side of the building, seeking other entrances.
Elsa remarked at the panicked crowd “Dammit, a lot of chaos.. A lot of crap. Yeah, we are going to have a fun day.”
“How is that fun?” Sadie asked. “I think your definition leaves a lot to be desired.”
“It’s fun when people get the beat-downs they deserve, not when innocents are hurt.” Candi sprinted toward the group of cyborgs, launching into a side kick. The mouse’ thick leg muscles quivered as they tensed for the impact. Her eyes opened wide as her foot and lower leg, sank though her target, her oversized calf tearing a hole through it’s abdomen.
The figure looked down, stating “damage noted. Initiating repair.”
“Holy!” Tina exclaimed as the figure that she had just punched seemed to ignore the sharp ‘Crack!’ coming from its sternum. “They don’t care if they get hurt.” Blood frothed at the cyborg’s lips.
Elsa stood still “I don’t think they are in their right mind. I...think they need to be snapped out of some sort of spell.” She kept in a fighting stance, “it would be easier to use my knife but I don’t think it’ll do much.”
“It’s better than nothing.” Tina replied just before the injured cyborg punched her, knocking the girl onto her back. She rubbed her palm over her banded abdominals. “Ow.. These things hit hard.”
Candi spun around, pulling her leg free of the cyborg’s body with a wet ‘Shluck!’. Blood coated her leg, matting down the fur. “That is just gross.” She dropped into a crouch to avoid a punch from it.
Elsa didn’t charge but moved left and right. She dodged a few moves and landed a punch and a hard kick “Dammit, it’s like they’re more like robots than humans. They don’t feel pain.” She slashed its arm and the cyborg just used its other hand to grab her blade arm and twist it before tossing her backward. “AAAH!” Elsa’s head swam as the pain from her shattered humerus and torn ligaments filled her mind.
“This is why us mundanes really shouldn’t play in the majors,” Sadie commented. “Angel, can you keep ‘em off me while I drag her out of the line of fire?”
“I will keep you safe, Sadie. Hurry,” Angel said. It might’ve been easier if Angel had simply flown Elsa back out of the melee, but she wouldn’t be able to defend herself if she did, and it was a sure bet that Sadie couldn’t hurt the monsters.
“I’ve got you covered!” Candi sprinted over to the cyborg, catching it’s fist in one hand with a muffled ‘Crunch’ and punching through its side with the other. Two more cyborgs stepped up to take her opponent’s place while it recovered.
One of the cyborgs moved in to attack Sadie as she reached Elsa, but Angel grabbed it and threw it back, her enhanced strength sufficient to hurl it fifteen feet and send it sprawling before it could recover.
“This isn’t doing Elsa much good,” Sadie winced as she dragged the larger girl back, feeling the crushed shoulder and arm twisting still further as she strained against her weight..
“Don’t stop now,” Angel said. She shoved another cyborg back, this time sending it into Tina’s grasp.
“I wasn’t planning on stopping for coffee,” Sadie growled
Tina caught the cyborg in a hug, grasping each hand onto the other wrist. She grunted with effort as she flexed. There were snaps and crunches as her biceps grew to have their peaks bump each other through the creature’s torso.
Sadie pulled Elsa back from the frontline and back against the side of the building, leaning up against a short set of concrete stairs. “This is as far as we go, Angel,” Sadie said.
Angel glanced around. “It will do, if Candi and Tina can keep us safe,” she said.
“These things keep healing up as fast as we can damage them,” Candi said as her snap kick shattered one’s hips.
“I might be able to keep them from healing,” Angel said, “but then they would probably die. We need to think of something else.”
“You need to haul your butt back here and help Elsa,” Sadie said, “I think she’s hurt really bad and I can’t do anything for her!”
Elsa saw something.. It was like she could see into the mind of the individual. It was not the mind of the cyborg, but someone wearing an old style Native American outfit. Her eyes glowed, “Don’t kill them. I have been following you. I have protected you. Do you remember me, the Dream Girl?”
Elsa nodded “I do….”
The Dream Girl presented a vision showing another event of drones being controlled by ‘witches’. “These people are under the control of another. Do not kill them. Instead, seek out their masters. In the past, we were monster slayers and defeated the ones who were controlled by evil beings. Instead of destroying them, strike them in a way to knock them out. They need your help. Free them of their slavery.”
Elsa woke to see Sadie and Angel kneeling over her. (Jak’s to add here)
She turned to see Tina, bruised, holding onto one of the cyborgs by its arm, keeping it off-balance. The girl’s other hand was balled into a fist. Her back muscles were tensed into chiseled definition while her biceps were flexed to nearly wrist high as she was preparing to punch it’s head. “Tina, stop!” She shouted. “Don’t kill him!”
“How will we stop them?” Tina replied. “What should we do?”
Elsa calmly stated “You need to knock them out. The cyborgs are still people, but they are being controlled. We need to find who is controlling them.” She held her arm, which still throbbed in pain, “Its the only way...it is what my visions told me.”
“Nothing is making them stay down.” Tina twisted the cyborg’s arm further, resulting in a sharp ‘Snap!’. She gave a quick blow to its head that had it go limp. “I think that knocked it out without killing it.” Just as she let it collapse to the ground, she was sent sprawling from another cyborg’s hit.
Elsa winced as she heard the creature’s arm give way “That's how you do it,even if you made we wince.” She looked around and seen several cyborgs coming to continue their rampage. Elsa tried to keep herself calm as she felt a sense of panic growing, “Get back up! There’s more of them jerks coming your way! Find a faster way to knock them out!”
“It’s not so easy when there’s just us two fighting off an army of them.” Candi yanked her fist out of a cyborg’s abdomen and caved in the front of its face with a punch. “That should have it down for a little while.” She looked over to Sadie, Elsa and Angel. “Are you three gonna be able to help?”
Elsa laughed nervously as she pointed to her arm “I wish I could but I’m kind of a normal human and this is still still pounding. I’d need a good swing with a sledgehammer to knock these guys out.” She paused for a second. “Also, those things can send me to an early grave.”
“I dislike violence,” Angel said. “My gift is healing. Besides, I… do not believe these things are evil.
Sadie frowned. “I think the bar has to have some rope or duct tape or something; I’ll get some from the bouncers. Then, after you and Tina knock ‘em down, we can wrap ‘em up. Would that help?”
“That’ll work. Tina and I are kinda the high damage output types. If you want, either of us muscle-heads can power-level you through some more fights.” Candi jogged over to the next cyborg, to join Tina in the fight.
Later, inside The Vault prison wing, detective-captain Zed looked through the armored glass window into the operating room. An unconscious cyborg laid on a steel table, its limbs held in place by thick loops of cable. “This just gives me the creeps. The doctors had to use some kind of a heavy-duty power saw to cut through that guy’s head.”
“At least they were able to get that thing out of his brain.” Oscar gestured toward the jar that had a black metal slug crawling around inside of it. “I wonder if he’s going to remember anything about what happened once he wakes up.”
“I think it would be best if he didn’t. Who knows what kinds of actions that thing made him do. Also, would you want to remember the kind of beating that those kids gave him?” Zed replied.
“Do I look like a masochist?” Oscar asked.
“Dunno,” Zed mused. “What’s a masochist look like?”
“Wiseass,” Oscar retorted. Zed smiled.
“Are my punches really the same as hits with a sledgehammer?” Candi smirked as she asked Elsa. The hyper-muscled were-mouse shifted her weight from foot to foot, causing her quadriceps to ripple. Dried blood coated much of her fur.
“The word I used was airhammer,” Donnybrook noted. Detective Candi-with-an-’i’ “Donnybrook” MacHugh was a short, tough looking woman with a permanent scowl on her otherwise pretty face. “Which fits: airhammer for an airhead. What were you failing-to-think, again?”
Candi pivoted to see the detective. “Oh, I didn’t notice you coming inside. We were capturing a group of bad guys.” She paused and cocked her head to look at the woman with her solid black eyes. “I should have heard you.”
“You get knocked on the noggin?” Donny asked, “‘cause I wasn’t exactly being stealthy.”
“You were too busy concentrating on showing-off to do anything else.” Tina said. “Detective MacHugh could have stomped her way in here wearing hobnail boots and you wouldn’t have noticed, Miss biceps-as-big-as-her-head.”
“It’s a pity IQ isn’t measured in metric tons,” Donny noted, “because then you two might have a shot at being geniuses. You’ll be happy to know that all your victims survived. Ths time. Of course, none of them have regained consciousness, so it’s anybody’s guess what they’re going to say when they come to.”
“They were healing as fast as we could hurt them, so we were going full strength on our hits.” Candi said. “It was Elsa’s idea to knock them out instead of trying to out-fight them.” She looked to Tina and continued. “You’re just jealous that I placed ahead of you in the bodybuilding contest. I got third place behind Heather and Uri, and you were bumped from getting any medal.”
The detective rolled her eyes heavenward and shook her head. “It did surprise me to realize that you two, especially, must have gone out without your cellphones. I mean, what other explanation could there be for you not calling in the pros when you realized you’d walked into a sh– crapstorm without an umbrella?”
Tina crossed her arms and looked at the mouse-girl, “I’ll bump you from third place next time.” She then faced the detective and tilted her head back to look to the woman’s eyes. “Any time that we spent talking on the ‘phone was time that we weren’t keeping the cyborgs from capturing anyone. All of those people at The Dive could have called the police instead of recording us on video.”
“Oh, but why would they when you so obviously had everything in hand? Don’t try and deflect, smart-britches. You should’ve called and you know it. One of you, anyways. Did it never occur to you that we actually have ways of containing threats like this?”
“I am sorry, Detective,” Angel interjected, “I should have thought of calling, but it never occured to me.”
Candi sat her hands behind her head, mainly because the pose showed off her abdominals, raised her breasts, and let her biceps fill out to reach behind her head. She made sure that the closed-circuit cameras could see her and flexed to be extra sure. “Okay. Next time I see some kind of monsters or robots or villains about to slaughter people, I promise to call the police before I rescue anyone.” She failed in keeping from smiling, though on her it just showed off her buck teeth. Her tail swished behind her as she obviously enjoyed herself.
“Gee, that would be nice. Or maybe you can call nine-eleven and drop your damn phone. It’s not like we need to hear your scintillating wit to know there’s an emergency when there’s the sound of violence in the background, genius.”
“Can I get a snazzy superheroine name and a hotline to speed-dial?” She paused, setting her arms down at her sides. Candi still kept her biceps flexed just so they’d stand out to match Tina’s description of being the size of her head. “I get the point. I’ll call up next time. Anyways, we really did try and keep the hits to their head extra gentle so that we wouldn’t kill them.” She took a short step closer to the detective, stopping when her protruding biceps were about an inch from the woman’s sleeves, and asked “Were they really under some kind of control?”
“Um, Candi,” Sadie put in, “are you really trying to impress this detective by flexing your biceps in her face? She’s seen Uri and Heather, you know…”
“Oh..” Candi shifted her gaze downward. “Third place.” She looked over to the girl. “It would probably work on anyone else, though.”
“To answer your question,” Donny said, “we don’t know. Yet. I haven’t gotten to view the surveillance footage, yet, but… given that the docs say their in remarkably good condition for people who nearly got their faces pancaked, it seems like the rest of your story might hold up, too.”
The door opened and an enormous, bald man in a work shirt and blue jeans stepped inside. He calmly surveyed the room, then turned to Detective MacHugh. “Donny, mind giving us the room?”
The surly detective swallowed. “Sure thing, boss. Call if you need anything.”
The big man nodded. “Ladies,” he said. His voice was deep, sonorous, with a touch of a Texas drawl. “I suppose, first, I should tell y’all that your not under arrest. After that, how about introductions. My names Zed Slade. If it’s alright with you, I’d like to handle your debriefing. Before we go any further, you should know that you do have the right to have your parents present, if you want, and an attorney, if you need one. With me, so far?”
Tina elbowed Candi with a loud ‘Thud!’ and whispered “De-briefing.” She chuckled, then answered. “I’m Tina, that’s Elsa.” She pointed at the tan, native girl. Candi’s the supernatural muscle-goddess next to Detective MacHugh. Angel’s the cute one sitting over there, and Sadie’s the innocent-looking one next to her.”
Zed smiled. “I’ve met Ms. Hawkins, before, ‘though she might not remember it. I’m very pleased make the rest of your acquaintances. Before we begin, y’all comfortable? Anybody need some water or a snack? This could take a while.”
“Can we get washed up first. I don’t want mom and dad to see any of us covered in blood or stuff.” Candi asked. She looked towards Tina. “I’ll be happy with the title of demi-goddess. I don’t want to seem too presumptuous.”
“Good evening, Captain Slade. It is a pleasure meeting you again.” Agent Johnson happily greeted the detective.
“It’s always a pleasure receiving a visit from StrikeForce.” He forced out. “What brings you to my neck of the woods?”
The agent, dressed in her organization’s signature uniform of a black skirt and jacket, white blouse and black slouch hat, gestured toward the row of thick glass jars. “You have a knack for discovering items that affect our national security.”
“You’re not going to be taking the gang out of here and ‘disappearing’ them. You’ll have a legal fight if you try.” Zed adjusted his hat.
“They aren’t of any concern to my superiors. I had the opportunity to enjoy a discussion with several of them and found that they were just animated pawns.” The agent said.
“I had them pegged as techno-zombies.” Zed replied.
Agent Johnson cracked a half smile, “That sounds like a musical group.” She took a few seconds to compose herself. “They should be safe to release. I assure you that they won’t remember anything that they did.” The auburn-haired woman’s eyes glowed for a second.
“Let me guess.” Zed replied. “It’s their implants that you’re after.”
“‘Government agent appropriates alien implants’ is a news headline that I’d like to avoid.” She said.
“It would be my department that would have to live with it.” Zed replied. “I’ll make sure that this stays under wraps.”