<--Previous: Taken by Storm
"Remember this: Everything that you have ever experienced in your entire life has brought you to this instant."
--Guy in Video, "Bikini Girls with Machine Guns," The Cramps.
Sara gets the Jalopy comlinked to GammaGirl's League Bluetooth before the ambient avenger soars out ahead on her way to Fort Charles on the coast. They've sent messages to the League, but the members are scattered and they certainly can't rely on a last minute slam by Metaman. And maybe they don't want that. "Boy scout hasn't got the guts to do what needs to be done, sometimes," says Sara.
"I know we need to hurry," says Granny Flat, but shouldn't we complete our plan? Goodness me, we don't even know what we're up against. The Troll with access to the Organist's technology?"
"They smell, they smell a little alike," says Sarah Wolfchild. “Now that I think back. Might be they're related. Yes. Yes. But I'd have to smell again."
Sara Okamura hands the girls in the back seat automatic weapons. "They work the way I explained. Would be great against minions."
Aly Cat wakes up with a quizzical eert? Her eyes widen when she sees the submachine gun, but she says, "Close up, I'll use my own weapons."
"Now girls," says Granny. "I will not stand for any broken necks, severed spines, or decapitations, unless absolutely—and I mean that—absolutely necessary to preserve the lives of innocents."
She pauses a moment to clean her hand where it rubbed against the handle. "Oh? Yeah. Of course."
"Granny, you know what we found online. I think we're good."
"You've got a solid team, here, Granny." "Ace" Sera, handling the wheel of the sky-soaring Jalopy, looks a moment over at Sa'raa. "Man, GammaGirl can really fly! She's going to be in Fort Charles way ahead of us..." Sara, in the middle seat with Granny, clears her nose.
"She is something else," "Scooter" says.
"At her age," says Sara, to no one in particular, "why does she still call herself a 'girl?'"
They have worked things out by the time GammaGirl lands, leaving residents of Fort Charles to wonder about the high-atmosphere sonic boom.
Granny and her associates have to take a quieter approach, soaring low-level, hoping to avoid detection. They've downloaded the plans of the Organist's decades-old secret lair in Muse Hill, overlooking Fort Charles bay.
It's quiet, like the calm before a rain of frogs.
He's certain he heard a sonic boom.
He sits in his old chair, in front of the organ he wired so many years ago to run the place, each song, every short melody, setting into play a different operation. It creaks now, echoing in the long-sealed cavern. These hands do not play as easily as his old ones. He cannot get the screen set in front of the pipes to work properly. Still, they never discovered the subcellar, nor his special reserves there. And in this new era, he's been able to add so much in so little time, pull together years of theoretical work.
"A sonic what?"
He winces. This won't be easy. He calls to Norbert. The long, wiry thug answers in a grunt, pulls himself away from the glass tube he's been leering at obsessively. He asks him to check out the main door.
Remember this, he thinks. Everything that you have ever experienced in your entire life has brought you to this instant.
"You sound like the tool of a business teacher I used to have."
"Shut up! I cannot concentrate!"
"What boss?" Norbert asks, yelling from the top of the stairs which are carved into the cavern wall.
A device begins beeping. It's part of the newer tech, set up in the last few months, one of the things that clashes with the rest of the décor.
"Gamma radiation and fairyplainium! It must be that accursed GammaGirl!"
"I &%$@ hate her!"
"No, not you, Norbert!... Norbert... Open the door and then move aside." He plays the opening strains of "Toccata and Fugue in D minor." A cannon-like device turns on its pedestal and points towards the door.
Norbert throws open the door. A single note sounds, and a ray blasts GammaGirl, who is instantly immobilized.
From the mouth of the Troll falls maniacal laughter. "I always thought you newer heroes were overrated," he says. "Captain Destiny wouldn't have fallen for an easy trap like that. Oh, but perhaps you were not thinking clearly? Perhaps you were all upset about.... Her!" He points a finger towards the glass tube, within which Lady Amazonian may be seen, fading in and out of reality.
GammaGirl gasps. And it's true, she cannot move. She feels her particles in conflict, pulling her two directions yet forcing her to remain, immobile, in one place.
"Yes! Yes!" He begins playing Liszt's "Prelude." GammaGirl floats across the cavern. He shifts style to "You're Breaking My Heart" and she comes to an awkward rest beside Lady Amazonian. The mouth of the Troll and his cheesy 70s 'stache shake. He cackles. At last, I will have my revenge!!!"
Within his brain, he hears a second voice, a less mature, less comprehending one.
"Oh, don't look so confused, my dear! It was a simple matter. I had decades in that prison to gather the materials, and complete one of my most ingenious inventions! A mind-transfer device! Slowly, I moved my brilliant mind into the most genetically compatible body I could find—that of my grandson, young Mr. Clery! My old brain went demented, of course, but what need have I for that aging body? Even with only a fraction of my mind, the Troll, acting under my instruction, was able to get my lab operational again. With my full mind, we-- I-- teleported Lady Amazonian here, and made the world think she had died! I planned to demoralize the League before removing you all! And you blundered into my trap, so quickly! Like a rank amateur! But next to my vast intellect, could you be anything else? Yes, I've devised a way to rid the world of each of you! This device—" He plays some Pachelbel, and the cannon jigs about—"turns your exotic nature against you, using the exotic and ordinary matter in your body to immobilize you between two worlds, much as the teleporter has done the same for Lady Amazonian! Soon, all so-called superheroes will be gone, teleported to other universes—and then, I, the Organist, shall rule the world! Ahahah!"
"And me, too! Then they'll respect me."
"Shut up! You distract me."
GammaGirl understands, as she hears the cadences she's so often heard in League recordings issuing from the mouth of the youth. The Troll was an idiot, a chronic underachiever. This is the Organist, the most feared mad scientist in human history.
"Hey, uh, boss," asks Norbert.
"I helped you, grandpa! No one takes me seriously as a master-criminal."
"That is because your master-crimes consisted of spray-painting graffiti and trying to lure Metaman into an argument about your moronic incest hypothesis."
"Boss?" asks Norbert.
He realizes he's been responding aloud again. "Yes, what do you want, Norbert?"
"Youse said I couldn't touch the Amazon-lady 'cause it'd mess up your telephonation-ray..."
"I am serious! I done hard time!"
"You've been sentenced to community service and been forced to clean up your ugly graffiti tags."
"Yeah, that," says Norbert. "Anyway, can I at least have a feel of this one? I never done it with a super-lady. And she's in that static cling."
"Interparticular stasis." "He exhibits even less basic intellect than you!"
"Hey! Taking on Metaman took balls!"
"He'd already flown away." "Yes, Norbert. Go ahead. I'd be delighted! Ahahah!"
"Yeah, those metahumans all so &%$# rude."
"Well, we'll get some entertainment out of this yokel you hired.... Meanwhile, I'll get my old robot army going, for when her inevitable support arrives. They'll find them equipped with some new weaponry." Keeping one eye on the captive women, he begins playing "Bolero."
Norbert leers and sets his weapon at his side. He fingers his suspenders.
"Hey, Norbert" GammaGirl whispers.
He looks puzzled or, more puzzled than usual. "Youse can still talk?"
Her interparticular shimmer stops; the gamma glow increases. His eyes widen. One glowing fist swings towards him and knocks him flying backwards. "The word wiener is underused, Norbert."
"What?" screams the Organist/Troll, as a gammabolt blasts his organ. ”No! But how?”
From between the cracks slips the one being known to inhabit two dimensions at once, all the time. "Now, do you think she just let herself be caught?" says Granny Flat. They had realized he, or someone, had been collecting fairyplainium, and the girls later found the Troll's ebay account, understood that he'd been purchasing certain high-tech items. They hadn't deduced the mind transfer, but it was child's play for she and Sara to figure how their enemy might try to capture GammaGirl. She laughs, an old lady's giggle. "My unique properties mean that I can untie her!"
"I've still activated my army of death-bots!" The older-model, art deco robots are, indeed, creaking to life, and he's armed them with some pretty impressive weapons. "I shall still be victorious!"
"You're WRONG and you're a GROTESQUELY UGLY FREAK!" From the cave's reservoir, Sarah Wolfchild and Aly Cat have emerged—the latter less thrilled to have been swimming. They've stripped to their bathing suits, and they're carrying machine guns, modified with force-bullets, which they turn on the robots. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew make their way through the door.
GammaGirl provides cover for Granny Flat and Sara, who try to free Lady Amazonian.
"Holy Diversions!” yells Bobolink. "An entire other band of death-bots are heading into Fort Charles! We've got to save them!" And as he, "Ace," and Sa'raa head back out, the outcome of the battle in the cave begins to look less certain.
"Enough!" cries the Organist. They turn to him, and see where he has a small harmonica in his hand. "If I blow this," it will activate the backup on the teleportation device in which I've trapped Lady Amazonian. You'll never see her again!”
He smiles evilly—but as the others pause, uncertain, GammaGirl blasts through the tube and rapidly pushes Lady Amazonian aside. The elder stateswoman of metahumans shimmers and then returns to this reality. By then, the Organist has blown his device—and GammaGirl has vanished.
GammaGirl feels strange. Strange, like the time Metaman was dating that alien chick from Strontium and temporarily got transformed into a rock-creature? He was still Metaman, but things seemed seriously askew.
Worlds fade around her.
She attends a fancy dinner in Centropolis with the League, except the city is called Urbanopolis and they are up against someone she’s never heard of before, a villain called the Mind-Master.
Metro City, now. She undergoes her surgery again, and a Gamma Blast transforms her. Instead of the Troll, she finds herself up against some deranged, verdant chemist.
She sees two previously unknown primary colors.
Somebody calls her, claiming figures are climbing from paintings, engaging in battle. Only GammaGirl can save them now! She has a sidekick in this reality, named Sundar.
She answers quite slowly. The storm brews. A slate grey sky churns the heat.
Now she works with an android named "Sydekiq." She cannot fly, but she drives a cool Gammacar. She finds herself up against yet another vaguely-familiar foe. She can’t recall his name, but his fez looks familiar. She sees a team of... Heroes? Villains? Each member resembles "Scooter," in one aspect or another.
She works with a glowing fish, a perch she understands is this universe’s version of her beloved Kevin.
She wonders if she'll ever see him again.
Even in this next reality, Nothing can slow her down as she battles a series of villains with seriously weird sobriquets.
In a Maryland home frosted with snow, she buckles down and eats a tasty dessert. It may be the best blue dessert in the world.
A voice calls to her.
She's back in the Organist's lair. Granny Flat looks her over, head swaying slightly. Others fade into view.
"How did I get here, Sarah?"
"Do you have any idea," asks Lady Amazonian, "what being stuck between dimensions and having to listen to the Organist pontificate with the Troll's voice was like?"
"Demeter! You're safe!" Christine brings herself off the ground and embraces her old friend and mentor.
"I kicked his wannabee Evil Overlord ass once you freed me!"
Sara Okamura explains. "We were able to recapture you from transdimensional space, because of your unique gamma-fairyplainium signature. In the process, the Organist stumbled, so to speak, into the teleportation device."
”That was quite a punch, wasn't it?” says Lady Amazonian.
"He's just lucky you punched that personal force-field he operated, instead of him," says "Scooter."
GammaGirl looks around. Deathbot bodies litter the cavern floor. A few limbs, here and there, twitch and then expire.
Aly Cat and Wolfchild drag Norbert into view. Aly growls and then opens her jaws. "Scooter" intervenes. "Back off, kid," she says.
"I'm for letting Aly have a snack," says Sara. "He would've violated GammaGirl."
"Y'all haven't the right to abuse your power, now that we have the upper hand."
"Did Metaman teach you that?" asks Aly.
At that moment the walls thunder and crumble: Metaman himself. He's holding the carcasses of two of the Organist's old robots.
"I never! Metaman! I didn't, like…." says Scooter. "I didn't, like, think even I could be this happy to see y'all."
"Fort Charles is safe," he announces. "And I trust everyone here is good?" They try to be casual, announcing in his presence that everything is under control. He turns to Aly Cat. "Aly, I heard your question with my meta-hearing." She blinks, slowly. "I think it's fairer to say that 'Scooter' taught me that."
"Scooter" takes charge of a terrified and beaten Norbert.
Masked Owl and the Green Panjandrum appear shortly thereafter. Seeing a party in progress, one of them relaxes. "I finished with Asamoth," the Green Panjandrum says, "just in time to re-enter this adventure. Strange how often that happens." "Ace," Sa'raa, and Bobolink soon appear, slightly worse for the wear, but clearly, the death-bot invasion of Fort Charles has been averted.
Gradually, the facts emerge. By that point, Sara Okamura and Masked Owl have finished fiddling with the remnants of the Organist's newly-installed computer system. Sara thinks it's a pity, from a scientific standpoint, that they may never get the teleportation device to work again.
"The gauge says he's out of fairyplainium. I doubt there's enough left on earth to get this thing to dematerialize a flea. Wherever that winged him to, we may never get him back, assuming he even survived the trip."
"Wholly Poetic Justice, Masked Owl! But could he still be somewhere on earth?"
The cowled crusader gives the node to young Sara. "Could be, but I don't think so. I think that, like GammaGirl, they were drawn into some other dimension. Unlike her, they went kicking and screaming, and they've got no one to pull them back.”
"Perhaps, some day," says Metaman. "It seems a shame that the Troll won't have the opportunity to apply these life-lessons and perhaps reform."
"You really believe that?" asks Sara.
"Of course he does," says Masked Owl. Aly looks at Metaman cryptically.
"The powerful could force their will on the world, Aly," says GammaGirl. "But that's not the way."
Scooter adds, "Metaman sees nobility in us all. In our efforts. Our human nobility."
”And when I don't," says Metaman, "I look to my pal here, and I remember. He may be the biggest asset the League has."
"We all need someone like that," says GammaGirl.
Y'all take this," says "Scooter." He reaches into his jacked pocket and hands the cat-girl a Metaman pin.
"I'd still have that creep for breakfast, if it were up to me." But she accepts the pin, smiling. Norbert cringes.
"We'll take this one to the authorities," says Granny Flat.
Aly lies down on the ground and looks at her pin awhile, before closing her eyes for a spell.
"Maybe I should get a different action name than "Wolfchild," says Sarah, to no one in particular.
Her sister opens an eye. "Hmmmm.... La'see, names for a female hero-dog...."
GammaGirl stops her. "Wolfchild's nice. But if you're considering a change.... What do you think of "Tempestas?"
"Guess I'll get the Jalopy started," says "Ace." "You coming?" Sa'raa nods, and the two head off, to see what damage needs to be repaired.
"Wouldn't mind taking a look under her hood, if that's okay," says Bobolink. The others nod, and he joins them.
"That's got a nice ring to it....." Sarah says to GammaGirl. "Say, say.... Can I, can I have your autograph? And Lady Amazonian, yours, too?"
"Only if I can have yours," says GammaGirl.
"What's this?” asks a voice, from outside the hole Metaman has punched through the wall. They look up, figuring the local media have finally caught up with them. They are wrong. "The League of Saccharine?"
"Kevin!" says GammaGirl.
"Freaking hero central," he says, hugging her. The hug lingers. Finally, Kevin looks up. "Hey, don't you guys have a planet to save?"
After the tension of the battles and the mountains of expository dialogue, the group laughs heartily together.
The shadows where they are fall strangely, at angles. Mountains loom in the distance.
"Shut Up, Little Man!"
"You gonna make me?"
Two people stare from one pair of eyes, down a shoreline over which hang three moons. The wind blows. Hardy mosses grow here, quite nutritious. At night, the ice-weasels come.