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Winter Fire

by on December 28, 2011

And now, the conclusion of the previous story

The first thing Audrey did was ‘port to Natalie’s house. She hadn’t told the others yet. She could’ve ‘pathed them, of course, but…but Audrey couldn’t bring herself to tell them what had happened with only a telepathic message. She needed to look in their eyes. Theirs, and Rosalie’s.

Natalie knew something was amiss when she glanced out her living room window and saw Audrey, alone, standing on the lawn outside. Natalie rose, leaving the kids to their wide-eyed adoration of Aladdin. The Prince Ali song was in full swing as Natalie opened the door. “Audrey, what…” then she saw Audrey’s face in the glare of the streetlamp outside. Her friend had never looked that stricken before. And then she spoke, and that alone sent warning bells off in Natalie’s mind, because Audrey never talked, never, she was such a gifted ‘pather that she….what?

“It’s true,” Audrey rasped, her voice rusty after years of little use. “Trina. She’s gone.”

Almost instinctively Natalie looked back. She could just see Rosalie, lying on her stomach before the TV, her small face blue as the Genie’s. Trina had worried about that: Rosalie kept changing to look like whoever she saw on the screen, and Natalie had just that afternoon found an article about that sort of thing in superhero kids, and now…now Trina wouldn’t be worrying about that ever again. “I should’ve been there,” she said, flatly, her left hand clenching so hard on the edge of the door that it splintered the solid oak wood.

“Natalie, he destroyed Thunderdomestic and many others; you could not possibly have-”

“I’m invulnerable,” Natalie said, very quietly. “I survived a nuclear bomb blast two years ago. I could’ve survived this. I should have been there.”

“We did not know what he could do,” Audrey tried to console Natalie. She didn’t really understand what her friend was going through, though. Natalie had unconsciously drifted into thinking that because she almost couldn’t be killed, her friends couldn’t either. She had saved them so many times simply by being there; she had stopped thinking about the possibility that one day she might not be there. Now she had to think about it.  All her invulnerability, all her power, and it meant nothing, because she couldn’t use it to bring Trina back.

“I…” she repeated, slowly, furiously, “I…should have…been there. ” Natalie lashed out in a storm of blind emotion, her fist shattering the door and the wall beyond. Rosalie, alarmed, clambered to her feet and padded towards the commotion. She saw Audrey, and Natalie, and the terrible looks on their faces, and she didn’t quite understand. She was, after all, only four, and four-year-olds are not ready for this. She started to form a question, and Audrey read it in her mind before she could. Audrey tried hard to explain, but Rosalie still did not understand. All she knew was that things had gone very, very wrong, and normally when things went very very wrong she looked to her mother, and she did not know what to do when she couldn’t. She had no one left to look to. And that was wrong on a level Rosalie could just barely comprehend.

The three of them met later on, with a few others. Babysitter Girl had volunteered to mind Rosalie. She was as upset as anyone, and she promised to defend the kid to the last. She had Natalie’s kids, and Audrey’s, and Lucy’s daughter Zoe, and several other children as well, so she had plenty of power.  Not that Glacieron would be coming for her directly, anyway. No one really knew what he meant to do, and they didn’t much care. What they cared about was stopping him from doing it.

Not that they knew how. Because when Natalie’s emotion finally ebbed to a slow cold fury, she had to admit that maybe she wouldn’t have survived. Thunderdomestic wasn’t strictly invulnerable, but she had been pretty darn close, and she hadn’t made it. But even if she could survive, that wasn’t enough. They had to find a way to take Glacieron down. And as the darkest night they had ever known limped on towards morning, no one could think of a way.

Audrey had shown all of them what she had seen through Trina’s eyes. Glacieron had taken multiple laser blasts without a scratch, so exploding soccer balls probably couldn’t faze him. Warthog Man had gotten close enough to land a punch on him, and the supervillain had only laughed, and then promptly exploded Warthog Man into bits. No one had been fast enough to dodge the ice-beams either, not even speedsters like the Rogue Jaywalker.  That meant even Captain Happily Married, who could put on an impressive turn of speed when he wanted to, probably wouldn’t make it. Lucy’s lightning, Natalie’s strength, Audrey’s ‘teeking power…wouldn’t work.

For a while the conversation had flowed back and forth as they tried to think of something. Now, as the sun finally crept over the horizon, Captain Happily Married had to admit the truth. Even he couldn’t quite bring himself to be melodramatic now, so he just stated the obvious. “We’ll have to evacuate. Take the kids out of here. We can’t risk…”

“Then what?” Natalie asked him bleakly. “Say Ben and I take our two off somewhere, like, I don’t know, Greenland. What happens when he comes after us? You think he’ll stop with just this city?”

He might. Audrey suggested, hopefully. We are not really certain of his intentions, are we?

“Dude killed Trina,” Lucy said. “That’s all the intention we need. And I ain’t going to run off scared and let him get away with it.”

“So what, exactly, do you suggest we do?” Super Soccer Mom retorted.  “We’ve been going at this for hours. We can’t stop him. So our only choice is what my husband said. We leave. Now.”

They looked at each other, and they thought of their kids, and the city, and they saw the sense in her words. Audrey let out a long sigh. I can ‘port you all wherever you wish to go. We will also need to warn the other heroes. If we go, they will wish to leave as well.

As it happened, one of the other heroes already knew. Gaseous Girl, real name Madelyn Smith, was close friends with Babysitter Girl. She had even subbed for her once or twice. And when Gaseous Girl found out what had happened, she didn’t stop to think about kids, for she didn’t have any. She didn’t think about retreating to Greenland, or whether she could realistically take Glacieron down. What she thought, first and instinctively, was that it wasn’t time to sit around and strategize. It was time to, as the saying goes, kick butt. Her eyes blazed red. Fire blasted out from behind her. And so Gaseous Girl rocketed into the sky, her eyes racing across the skyline of Edison City. There! A white-caped figure standing defiantly on the steps of City Hall, flanked by…who was that? Lady Wagnerian? The Malevolent Med-Student? Candystriper?  “Okay,” Gaseous Girl said, her fists clenching tight. “You freaks are goin’ down. ”

She paused before she made her attack run, popping open a soft drink and gulping it down. She could feel the gaseous power welling inside her. Flames reflected in the sheen of her black Starfleet style boots, and her purple cape snapped briskly in a sudden wind. Gaseous Girl screamed in, aiming straight for the bad guys.

Lady Wagnerian saw her coming. She glanced for permission, which Glacieron gave with a benevolent smile. “Sing her out of the sky,” he declaimed.

Lady Wagnerian, naturally, had a few pithier things she might have said, (she was beginning to resent the condescending twit from another world) but she didn’t have time to say them. So she opened her mouth and unleashed the first song that leaped to mind, it being only a few days after Christmas. “COOOOME, THEY TOOOOLD ME, PA-“

But Gaseous Girl had seen her step out to engage, and she knew what was coming. Without even pausing in her downward flight she opened her mouth and let loose with the most ferociously resounding burp the world had yet seen. Burp met song, and the caffeine-fueled sound waves bludgeoned Lady Wagnerian’s ordinary sonic pulses back so fiercely that they knocked her back through the doors of City Hall and straight into a knot of policemen, who promptly arrested her.”Rum pum pum pum, ya twerp!” Gaseous Girl yelled after her.

Glacieron, in disgust, turned to order the Malevolent Med-Student to press the attack, but he wasn’t there. This was because Candystriper had been busily contemplating her navel all this time, and for once her imaginary blue manatee friend named Marcie had told her something both useful and intelligent. Whereupon Candystriper, deciding that discretion really was the better part of valor,  hit her fearless leader over the head with a Queen Square reflex hammer she had picked up last week in the UK, and carried him off to safety.

That left Glacieron, who didn’t much mind being alone anyway. He had little faith in his subordinates. He had absolute faith in himself. So he calmly looked up at the incoming Gaseous Girl and unleashed his ice-beams. Gaseous Girl’s hands flashed forward, and a wall of fire rose up between her and the supervillain. She’d meant to deflect the beams harmlessly away, but then they zigged-zagged aside, angling neatly around her firewall and slicing in towards her. So she blocked them again with another fire pulse. The beams zigged a third time, and she blocked a third time, and then their energy dissipated away into the cool winter morning. Glacieron, mildly irritated, fired off another blast, but Gaseous Girl blocked it yet again. So Glacieron focused his gaze, and the ice-beams intensified, and now it was all Gaseous Girl could do to hold back the onslaught of pure cryonic power. Slowly her firewall crept back towards her, and the ice-beams advanced, and little drops of sweat formed then evaporated away on Gaseous Girl’s face as she strained to push the ice away, but she didn’t…quite…have…then her mind flashed back months before, and she could’ve face-palmed herself from being an idiot. “Gone, gone, the form of woman,” she said rapidly as she could, “rise the stupendous Semicolon!”

There was a flash of rainbow light, and a nearby pigeon transformed into someone that hadn’t been seen in these parts since, oh, January. Semicolon: nigh-omnipotent member of the Punctuation Continuum. “Hiya!” she chirped merrily, still clad in her bunny slippers. “‘Sup?”

“What do you think?” Gaseous Girl exclaimed. “It’s deus ex machina time, Semi!”

“Ooh, I dunno…” Semicolon said hesitantly. “Won’t the readers feel cheated? Just a bit? Like if the angels had helped the baseball team win at the end it wouldn’t have been as poignant, you know? Like whatshisname said, championships have to be won on their own! It’s a rule!”

FORGET THE RULE!” Gaseous Girl screamed. “I don’t care if it’s cliched or poignant or whether the movie version of this would be loathed by the critics and rated on 35% on Rotten Tomatoes! Just stop him!

“Fine,” Semicolon huffed. “Have it your way.” She snapped her fingers, and a flash leapt from her bunny slippers, and Glacieron was catapulted clear into another dimension, and Trina was summarily resurrected, and everyone was happy. “There.” Semicolon said. “See. Don’t you wish I had let you beat the guy on your own? Isn’t this unfulfilling to have the conflict suddenly resolved in five minutes due to a nigh-omnipotent figure like I am?”

Gaseous Girl smiled, her purple cape billowing out behind her again. “Burp,” she burped happily, and soared away into the morning sky.

And so the world was saved once again, and this time it stayed saved for, oh, at least a solid week.

This story was written using Prompt 50 of the Chrysalis Experiment. Thanks for reading!

 

 

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