JUSTICE LEAGUE

13

Kidnapping and Netic
 

When Pinzz woke up, she had a bad headache. To her surprise, her bones weren’t broken.

"Hey, honey." X-Raytor said.

"Ugh... what?"

"What’s the matter?" he asked, trying to put his hand around her waist.

"Jesus, X-Raytor. What’s your problem?"

"Kiss?" he asked.

"Hell. No."

She walked into the cottage’s living room. "Guys? Why is X-Raytor cracked out? He thinks I am gonna make out with him...why am I not laying in bed with broken bones, come to think of it?"

The others looked at her, amused. Crystal burst out laughing, followed by Superdude. Then everyone laughed, even stupid Llama Boy, in a little llama laugh.

"You and X-Raytor were going out for like.... a week.." Scarlett said.

"WHAT?!"

Laughter ensued.

"You kissed him and everything. You saw him naked!" Crystal said.

"WHY DID YOU LET ME!?"

"You said it was love." Twisk said.

"It was a SPELL."

"Couldn’t have lasted for long...." X-Raytor shrugged.

"X-Raytor just sort of…went along with it..." Twisk explained.

Pinzz lunged at X-Raytor. He screamed and ran across the room.

"I am gonna take a long shower guys..." Pinzz announced. “Ew.”

***

Like a brooding storm, the ether rumbles with agitated voices.

The Beginning has changed.

How was the memory seal broken?

A misfortune over a waterfall.

We have vastly underestimated their stupidity.

The location doesn't matter.

Yet there is no common distraction to bond them together.

We must silence all criminal activity until the Awakening can begin.

Their minds will taste of boredom quickly without something to occupy their attention. They may separate.

The soiree represents something more to the pyromancer. She will try her best to reinitiate it. Without prior engagements, the rest will fall back in.

Inform the Seekers of the change.

They are hibernating.

Disturb them if you must, but they must be in position.

The One is nearly ready. The delay may prove beneficial.

Superb. We have shaped entire civilizations before; let's not let these random changes jeopardize our plans.

Our very existence is at stake. We could do no less then…perfection.

The voices taper away somberly, afternoon approaching.

***

In the midst of all this commotion, Scarlett's phone rang. It was Raven.

"Where the heck is everyone, Scarlett? I've been alone here at the Justice League headquarters for days!"

"Raven? Is that you? What do you mean, you're at headquarters? You've been here at the social the whole time," Scarlett told her.

"No, I haven't. I thought the social had been canceled."

"But...but who's.." Scarlett trailed off as she stared at Imposter Raven. "Raven? Get over here as soon as you can." She hung up and walked over to Imposter Raven. "Who are you?"

Imposter Raven grinned evilly, and doffed her costume.

It was Vinnie!

"I was wondering when you superhero fools would notice me for who I was. Boss? I think it's time!" he shouted. The lights went off in the cottage. There was a bunch of shrieking, especially from X-Raytor, who cried like a schoolgirl.

When the lights came back on, all of the male superheroes were gone, even Hamlet. They had been kidnapped!

***

"Well, I'm not sure whether to panic or rejoice..." Pinzz commented wryly.

"Scarlet- do you still have some food? I say we let the boys get tortured a few days-- you know they will gloat about it afterwards." said Oreo. "Rejoice!"

"Aww, but don't you think that's a little mean, I mean, if we were kidnapped they would-“ Violet paused mid-sentence. "No, wait, they wouldn't rescue us for a while either."

"Yeah, and I'm not too worried about Hamlet, anyway. He used to be a navy seal. He's tough,” said Scarlett.

"Who wants to order a pizza?" asked Twisk, picking up the phone. The local pizza delivery place was known for its good looking delivery boys, no matter their occasional criminal tendencies.

"I do!"

"Me!"

"No anchovies!" Chorused the other superheroes.

"I'll order it!" cried Scarlett. "There's this new pizza guy, he came when I ordered pizza last Monday. He's Australian."

"I'll help you answer the door, then," giggled Violet.

"I'll rent some videos!" volunteered Rosma as she grabbed the keys to the Justice Van and headed out the door.

***

A steady trickling sound could be heard all around as the now darkening sky glowed ominously and let a small rumble follow.

It was raining.

Isomorphix stood, leaning back against a small tree, his legs and arms crossed, looking down at the wet grass.

Beads of water dripped off the tips of his hair that was all around him, encompassing his face, and dropped to the small puddle forming below.

Another slow rumble followed another brilliant flash of lightening.

He had been brooding for the past hour, his silhouette remaining the same since. A little ways away, three men were lying down on the grass, as if taking a nap in the light shower. Upon closer inspection, one could notice the dark red blood that stained their clothes and the ground about them, all but washed away by the gentle rainfall.

Hmmm. It makes no sense. None of it. I've been going around, following lead after lead, but to no avail. Nothing is beginning to surface. Isomorphix thought.

He had been to many places, most uninteresting. However, a few places did strike his interest and kept him going, certain that he was getting closer to unveiling something. These "interesting" places, had always been factories or laboratories of sorts... all with the same theme: exothermic reactions or heat-inducing devices. Heat Transformers, Chemical Oxidants, Nuclear Power... the list went on.

But always... always there have been thugs waiting... in the important spots such as the labs to worthless places as this forest. Each time they had tried to kill me. Surely, that must mean there is a link somewhere...

Isomorphix thought for a second, his head becoming clearer for a moment.

NO! You're going down that road again, trying to find leads! This is going NOWHERE. Isomorphix insisted to himself.

But... what else was there?

Just as Isomorphix began to further explore his newfound confusion, he heard a distinct rustling amongst the rainfall. Snapping his head towards the direction of the noise and launching himself into a stance with his hand at his sheathed blade, Isomorphix noticed a shadowed figure spying on him.

There! He knew something would turn up somewhere!

Not even realizing it, Isomorphix began to run after the shadowed figure, his boots splashing in the plentiful puddles that riddled the ground. The figure, taking notice, proceeded to run away. The chase had begun.

The footsteps splashing just ahead of him, Isomorphix ran through the forest, his own boots displacing water. He ran, maneuvering around trees, whipping past branches amidst the gentle rainfall and the sporadic flashes of lightning that illuminated the scene for brief instances.

He was getting closer. The other man was obviously not as well trained as he was, and it was going to cost him. He'd get his answers, he knew it! He would - He would stop?

No, no, no... he finally had his lead, why would he stop? But something faint inside Isomorphix's head kept telling him to stop. What could that tiny voice possibly be? He was going to lose his lead, and if he didn't hurry, he knew he'd lose it. He KNEW it, deep in his gut.

But... but...

NO! STOP YOURSELF! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Isomorphix's rational, conscious thoughts finally came screaming to the surface.

What? I... Huh?

Isomorphix realized he was still running through the thicket he had come out into, the other man right in front of him, gasping for breath, but running just the same.

Isomorphix stopped.

Taking his head into his right hand, he shook his head back and forth a few times. As if stopping himself from itching a mosquito bite that was begging to be scratched. The man noticed, but only for a moment as he made his exit.

What? What is WRONG with you? Why did you let him get away? Isomorphix seemed to feel.

No... Nothing is wrong... the way I'm feeling is wrong. And since when did I ever get emotional about anything? Something is amiss here. Isomorphix thought.

It had been a long time since Isomorphix had felt anything like this... the sense of what he was doing was right. He had a few hunches here and there, sure... but not like this.

In fact, he was still feeling like an idiot for letting the man go. But Isomorphix's thoughts were clearer than ever as he stood in the now full-fledged thunderstorm.

***

All of the girls decided to venture out in the thunderstorm and get a movie, either a Tom Cruise movie or the latest Ewan McGregor flick. Pinzz, Scarlett, and Violet stayed behind to wait for the Aussie pizza guy.

Meanwhile, the guys were in a slimy, gross, mildewy place that was so dark they couldn’t see anything. At all. Midnight, to pass the time, told a little ramble about how when he was in school, detention involved doing drudgery work in the school basement, stuff like picking up/burying dead rats. X-Raytor moaned about the loss of "his Neary."

“Oh, get a grip,” Eric said, then, “Hey, do you hear that? There are noises above us.”

***

At the cottage, the doorbell rang and the pizza guy entered, wearing a black leather jacket and eating a candy cigarette. He noticed that the girls were only wearing togas.

“Is anything wrong?” he asked, gesturing at their attire.

“Yes!” Violet said, a little too quickly.

“Oh, well, can I help you?”

“Um…our washing machine is broken, could you fix it?”

While he had a look in the laundry room, Scarlett told Violet how he'd already helped her with most of the major appliances in her house, sighing sadly about all the money she'd had to spend to get things repaired once the pizza delivery guy finished tinkering with it. The delivery boy left, having forgotten to ask them for the pizza money.

The guys, meanwhile, wondered what the faint noise was. Eric mentioned that it reminds him of the Hunchback of Notre Dame for some reason. Which resulted in a tirade of Quasimodo insults. Hamlet, however, aided by his extensive training in forensic science, figured out where they were, but none of the guys paid attention to his plaintive meows, opting instead for an X-Raytor "tell-all" about Pinzz.

The girls arrived back at the cottage with several movies, including Emma, Steel Magnolias, My Fair Lady, Mission Impossible 2, and a bootlegged copy of Star Wars: Episode Two.

***

A storm of voices erupts across the ether in a frenzy of frazzled emotions.

Assorted criminals have carried off the male Justice Leaguers.

What?

How could something like this happen?

All criminal activity was supposed to be silenced!

Who was responsible for that section?

Silence.

Who?! Wait…someone is missing. I do not feel their thoughts here.

Ahh…ack!

Where have you been?

I was…occupied. With the powerless one. Despite all my efforts, he halted.

Do you realize, because of your oversight, the section of crime you had been responsible for has interrupted the Justice League?

No…

Yes. This could jeopardize everything.

I…I don't know what to say. The powerless one is proving to be a more difficult subject then we had ever anticipated.

His tasty mind is taking too much of your time. You're needed elsewhere.

We may have to eliminate the powerless one.

Blending into his body would take too much of our attention, which is spread too thin as it is.

Send a Seeker?

Yes. Where is the closest one?

Canada.

Then send it. What should we do to remedy this…situation?

The One is still occupied. I don't know for how long, it is beyond my control. But I felt a bond growing in the mind of someone near. It may be of use in the future, but only if we gave time for it to blossom.

Perhaps it'd be best if we waited this out. We can afford some amount of time to do so. It is the distraction we've been hoping for. The petty criminals who kidnapped some of the Justice Leaguers will, as all villains are known to do, screw up and fail. They will overestimate themselves, and leave some weakness open for a rescue to be attempted, and the criminals thwarted. This will give adequate time for the Awakening to begin.

Very well. What of the politicians?

Still building up, as we've seen so many times in the past. What we've feared will happen soon enough. It is as inevitable as any super nova.

Please, don't bring that up. I still weep.

As do we all. As do we all…

***

Xiao fell asleep during Mission Impossible 2, which they watched first, but Fred seemed to enjoy it. It was weird but- while she was asleep her dreams kept taking weird turns that had something to do with the movie. She figured it was just a side-effect of having Fred awake while she slept.

She woke up long enough to watch "My Fair Lady", but then went off to look for some real food. The pizza, while being free, had some weird toppings- pepperoni, escargo, and venison.

After finding some cookies, Xiao returned to the others, who were now watching Episode Two. She sat down to watch, but they kicked her out because she kept making fun of Anakin.

Fred was muttering to himself in French, and Xiao had no clue what he was saying. She caught the sentence "Des imbéciles, je les détruirai tous!" and "Ridiculisez-moi, n'est-ce pas ? je leur montrerai.'

To avoid being bored, Xiao found a bookcase, and began reading The Scarlet Letter to pass the time...

***

Xiao put down the copy of The Scarlett Letter.

Apparently, it was not the one she was used to reading; it starred Scarlett Fyre, Hamlet, and Scarlett's accidentally cremated firefighting boyfriend, all involved in some kind of insane road trip across the Atlantic, impossible as that sounded. Someone has too much spare time on their hands, Xiao mused.

She wandered back into the living room. "Don't you think maybe we should try and find the guys? It's been an entire day..."

The girls looked at each other, debating.

"Xiao's right. It has been an entire day," Raven said. She had come over shortly after the kidnapping, not wanting to miss out on the pizza delivery guy. She had arrived just as he was leaving, and she flirted with him at his car for a good 30 minutes before his manager called wanting to know where the heck he was.

"But…but the movie..." Scarlett said, her eyes glued to the screen as the camera panned in for a close-up of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

"Idea: Let's finish the movie, and then we'll go. Sound good?" Rosma suggested. It was agreed that would be the best course of action to take, and they promised not to kick Xiao out for making fun of Anakin, so long as the comments were funny. And naturally, they were.

***

"I'm hungry!" complained Omega. "Are they trying to starve us in here or something?"

"Meow!" Hamlet seconded Omega's complaint. Hamlet might have been a Navy Seal, but that didn't mean he enjoyed going without food. Especially since he had been Iron Chef France before he'd done his stint with the Navy Seals.

"If only Oreo Avenger were here, we could eat Oreos and maybe escape this rotting jail we're stuck in," Superdude thought aloud.

"True, but how can you be sure she would turn you back into yourself? She's still got some of those random famous people in period costume Oreos hanging around somewhere," Eric pointed out. "And I hear she's partial to Abe Lincoln look-alikes wearing pink samurai outfits."

"Yeah, I think I saw some Oreos stashed away in Scarlett's stuff when Neary and I were down there..." X-Raytor trailed off sadly. He started sobbing again. "Neary...I want my Neary back!"

Midnight reached over and punched him, hoping to shut him up. He was the only one close enough to X-Raytor. They had discovered they were chained roughly 4 feet apart from each other on either side of some kind of hallway.

None of them were able to break the chains, despite many, many failed efforts. The walls were even coated with some kind of specially formulated lead lining that kept X-Raytor from looking to see where they were. Besides, he was too emotional about the breakup to really be of any use for escaping.

Hamlet meowed plaintively, trying once again to get their attention and tell them that he knew where they were. Midnight Chatter finally caught on.

"What, Hamlet? We're where?! You've got to be joking!"

Hamlet shook his head, even though it was too dark for the others to see. "Mrrrowp."

"You mean we're in a secret passage hidden somewhere in or near Scarlett's cottage? A passage that you and Scarlett hadn't found yet? And that our true captors are most like linked to the Magic Finger, who was the original owner of the cottage?" Eric asked incredulously.

Hamlet responded with an affirmative "Meow."

***

Pinzz woke up. She had been sleeping with a pillow over her head and woke up just in time to see the wedding between Padme and the ultra hot Anakin.

"Pinzz, you’re awake? Been dreaming about X-Raytor?" Rosma grinned.

"Yep. You bet." she said.

"Pinzz, we were gonna go find the guys now." Scarlett said.

"They’re still not here? They have now been missing for like... a day."

Raven nodded.

"You guys haven’t looked for them yet?"

"Well, they’re big boys. They can take care of themselves." Raven said.

Rosma, and Crystal were going to go on foot and check out all the places the guys might be, like bars, or stupid action movies. Xiao and Scarlett were going to go to all the friends’ houses. Or ex-girlfriends houses. Violet and Scarlett were going to go to the boys’ favorite petting zoo across town. They always went there. Dragon Girl and Oreo were going to take the skies, see if they could look for them. Pinzz and Twisk were going to go check out the lairs underneath the cottage to see if the boys were playing a long game of hide and go seek.

"This is one weird basement." Twisk said. "Who owned this place before Scarlett got it?"

"We’re not sure. Someone who was obviously whacked out of his or her skull."

"Hey, Pinzz. There is a huge spider about to land on your head. I wouldn’t move." Twisk said.

"How big?"

"Tarantula big. Don’t move." She took aim with her fingers. A thin beam of electric show came out of her thumb and sizzled the spider.

"Thanks. Does that hurt?" Pinzz asked. Her fingers actually opened up, as if someone gave them a small slit with a knife, when the water or electricity came out.

She winced. "A little."

They moved on from the dead spider and came to a dead end.

"What? Doesn’t it go way further?" Twisk asked. "Weird."

At the moment Pinzz was about to answer, a man appeared behind them. A man dressed very poorly as a woman.

"Ew. That’s just not right." Twisk said.

"Vinnie?" Pinzz asked.

S\he smirked. "You guessed right!" S\he said, in the voice all transvestite men have trying to impersonate women.

"She…he's a bad guy... or girl?" Twisk asked.

Slowly, Pinzz turned my costume on. Swish! She flung out her fingers and stretched them around Vinnie's waist. Vinnie fell to the ground. Pinzz put her knee on the crossdresser’s back to keep him down. A shot of water went into the air. It formed into a spherical orb of water. Soon it was filled with electricity and held over Vinnie’s head.

"All right, Twisk." Pinzz nodded. "Okay, Vinnie, pal. You either tell us where our boys are, or you... well, get this big ball of electricity and water dropped on your head."

"Let me up."

”No. Keep it up Twisk." Pinzz said. “Now you. Tell me, please, and don’t waste our time.”

***

They hardly ever make metal trash can lids anymore.

When Netic was smaller, she used to have a lot of fun tossing them in the air and giving her friends rides. But now she was bigger and used them for more sophisticated ways.

Gregorio Hicks. The worst 7-11 cashier worker ever. He dropped the hot dogs on the floor. And didn’t throw them away. He spit on clean floors. He followed you around because he thought you would steal the overpriced candy or whatever. He charged you more then it really was. And he stuck pencil erasers in the best slushy machine and put an out of order sign on it just so the kids couldn’t have any. There are other nasty things he did. He once "forgot" to put up the wet floor sign. Well, Netic fell and sprained her finger.

It’s a wonder he wasn’t fired. So Netic wanted payback. And as her friends stood outside the store, peering in the glass windows, as Gregorio picked his nose and flicked it on the counter, she unscrewed the bolts holding up on of the light fixtures.

It was hard work. But she was down to my last screw. Her friends giggled. She pulled it out and CRASH! Down it came, right in front of the checkout. Glass shards went everywhere. Gregorio jumped nine feet into the air.

Netic and her friends ran. She bumped into some teenage girl.

"Watch it!" she yelled, getting off the ground.

Gregorio came over.

"You! Get back here!" he yelled.

"Me?" Netic asked, innocently. Her so-called friends were already down the street.

"My light! It crashed on the ground! Hundred dollars to fix! You did it!" he yelled.

"With all due respect sir, I couldn’t have done it. Maybe it was a ghost." Netic dripped with fake innocence and the girls behind her that she bumped into knew it, and she knew it, and Gregorio knew it.

"What’s the problem here?" One of the girls asked.

"Who are you? Get out of my business!" Gregorio said.

"Rosma Galek and Crystal Freeze, Justice League." One of them frowned. Netic thought it was Rosma.

"Good! Take her to jail! She’s a delinquent!" He yelled, spit flying everywhere. He looked like a rabid monkey.

The girls looked at Netic.

"Yeah, will do," one said, grabbing the younger girl. Gregorio looked way too happy and went back to his store.

"You’re not taking me to jail." Netic said.

"We aren’t? What was that stunt you pulled back there?" one said.

"He is insane. I was outside his store and the next thing I know I hear a crash and he comes running after me."

"Who are you?" Rosma asked.

"Cameron Keegen. I am sixteen, black hair, blue eyes, five foot six, one hundred and-"

"Ok, smartass." Crystal said.

"Did you break his... lamp?" Rosma said, getting impatient.

"Yep. Uh, I have to go. I have a lunch date with my mom." Netic started to walk away.

"Hey, how did you break the lamp? You were outside the shop the whole time. I saw you." Rosma yelled after her.

Netic turned around. Took a metal trashcan lid. Tossed it in the air. Jumped on it. It hovered in the air.

"Magic!" she yelled, propelling it down the street.

***

At the cottage, Pinzz and Twisk were nowhere to be seen. Scarlett checked some secret passages, to see if the guys were in them or if Pinzz or Twisk had uncovered one and couldn't get out. Meanwhile, Xiao amused herself by making shadow puppets on the wall to aggravate Fred.

"I think Twisk and Pinzz may be in trouble," Scarlett said, some time later, after checking all the known secret passages that were aboveground.

"Yeah well, they can handle it. Let's wait a day or so before we go looking for them," Xiao said, suddenly angry for no reason. "She's always talking how great she is, I'm sure she can handle anything that comes after her. Heck, she might as well start her own, one-person Justice League!"

Scarlett frowned, but didn't answer for a while. "Well, I'm going to look for them. They could be injured or something. The previous owner had a few traps in the basement you have to avoid, and I haven't had time to deactivate them all yet."

Watching Scarlett head off for the basement, Xiao sighed.

"You might as well go. This may be a chance for me to increase my evil power!" Fred said, poking her.

Dropping her shadow puppets, Xiao sighed heavily again, and followed.

***

"You’re so caring!" Vinnie said. "It’s so sweet of you. Your little friends matter so much!" he said and clapped his hands together.

Twisk was concentrating on the big blue ball of electricity hovering above his head.

"Tell us. I might drop it on accident." she said and Pinzz laughed.

"They are inside the wall…Can’t you see?" Vinnie said.

Pinzz walked over to the wall. "This wall is dirt and rock Vinnie. Don’t make me tell my buddy Twisk here to drop the bomb.”

"No need to get all mental Pinzz." Vinnie said.

"Okay then, transvesto, where are they?" she asked.

"Right. Behind. That. Wall." Vinnie said. He smirked and made Pinzz angry.

"Drop it, Twisk." she said.

She dropped it. About two inches from Vinnie head, she heard someone say, “Stop!"

"Scarlett?" she asked.

"Don’t kill him!" Xiao said.

"Why the hell not?" Pinzz demanded.

"He has valuable information!" she said.

"No he doesn’t! He said this stupid cave is behind this stupid wall, but it’s a wall! No one is behind it!" Pinzz exploded. She punched the wall. It made a hole. They heard voices.

"Pinzz! Oh, guys its Pinzz! We are saved!" one of the guys called. Pinzz busted the rest of the wall down. She definitely avoided X-Raytor.

"What do we do with Vinnie?" Scarlett asked.

"We should lock him up." Twisk said.

"Yeah, I'll take him to prison." Pinzz said. And off she went as the others helped the guys get out of the cave.

***

"What?" Rosma said, watching the girl float away.

"That kid has powers!" Crystal said.

"Well, she isn’t really a kid. She looks at least fifteen." Rosma said.

"Should we get her?" The girl had jumped off of the metal lid and ran down the sidewalk.

"To talk." Rosma started running, but Crystal had another idea. Netic lost her footing when suddenly the sidewalk was ice.

"Kid, wait!" Crystal caught up to her before she could run again. “You have powers?”

"Duh." She wasn’t out of breath. "You’re Justice Leaguers right?"

"Yes. And your power is metalwork?" Rosma said.

"Yeah. Metal controlling. Cool, huh?" She said. Suddenly, a hubcap flew off a nearby jeep and came rolling through the air. It dropped to the ground with a clang.

"Stop!" Crystal hissed.

She laughed. "You Justice guys have like a crime fighting team, right?"

"Yeah." Crystal said. "Want to…uh…join?"

"No. My mom is whacked. She wouldn’t ever let me...never. So, I have to go." And with that, she ran off.

***

Xiao, Twisk, and Scarlett stayed to help the guys out of their chains. Actually, Xiao wasn't much help, so she explored the room the guys had been held in. It was pretty large, but completely empty of anything besides the shackles on the walls, which were being used. There weren't any doors or levers, but Fred (Scarlett had started a fire in the middle of the room so they could see) suggested there could be hidden triggers, and since he had some idea of what they might look like, she started searching under his supervision.

There were none, but Fred discovered a hidden door, which must be triggered open from the other side. They showed it to Scarlett, but she had no idea what was on the other side, and the walls were thick and strong like regular walls, and they didn't have Pinzz to smash them. The door wouldn't give under force, either.

So they all went upstairs, and several of them went out to find the others, who were still out searching for the guys around the town.