Redundancy. A plan behind a plan. A back up plan. Whatever you call it, every decent villain has one. They have goons doing their grunt work, supervised by a slightly smarter goon who thinks he is a player. This keeps going on and on up the food chain until the true mastermind is finally revealed.
At least that is what the BADGE handbook for new super-heroes says on page 123. Who knew there was this much homework to being a fresh face on their roster? I close the cover, slip the book in one of my oversized pockets, and return to my surveillance of the dark alleyway the mercenary walked into.
A sharp whistle breaks the silence behind me. A drunken lout staggers out from the doorway of a seedy bar. "Hey, toots. Why don't you come on over to my place for awhile. You can take of your coat for awhile."
Why was everyone I walked by making comments about the coat I used to cover my super-hero costume? Only a trenchcoat could cover my cape, and the wide-brimmed hat hid my masked face. Why couldn't I have gotten the power of invisibility? Or a cloak that turned me invisible, like Harry Potter. That would be cool too.
"Beat it, mister. I'm on the clock here," I shout out to him.
He smiles at me strangely, like he is happy I'm outside working the streets or something. "I bet you are, sweetheart. I bet you are."
He trips into a lamppost as he walks away, finally leaving me in peace to catch the mercenary I've been tailing after he leaves the building.
I hope he doesn't take too long. I've got school at 8AM.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
After fifteen minutes more outside the dark alley, I spot the merc I've been tailing exiting. I use my BADGE communicator to record the time he leaves and the address. Who knew all the cool apps this device came with? If only it could do my chores for me...
The thug strolls down the street, his collar pulled up tight to his neck, hiding most of his face.
I flank him on the other side, walking slightly behind where I think he might be able to catch me watching him. Eventually, his path leads to a bridge leading over a river that runs through New Amsterdam. He steps onto the bridge, walking to the other side as he lights a cigarette.
Yuck. Like I needed another reason not to like him.
"HELP. HELP ME!"
The voice cries out from beneath me, barely audible over the traffic moving over the metal grates built into the roadway. I look over the edge and spy a boy, maybe eight or nine years old holding on to a broken wooden plank as it passes under the bridge.
Follow the merc or save the brat? Easy as the choice is, I hate it. I so wanted to nab the merc in the act.
I throw myself over the railing, the wind catching my coat and carrying it away as I shift my form, becoming a dolphin. I splash, bottle-nose first into to cold water and swim as fast as I can to the makeshift raft keeping the boy afloat.
I swear, if he calls me Flipper once when I try to save him, I'll bite him.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
Becoming a super-powered person, you would think that the unusual would become the new normal. Nothing could surprise you because, well, you can fly, shoot beams of energy out of your fists, or whatever gift you gained. What could be weirder than that?
Let me tell you that there certainly is weirder than that. There is a scale for weird. There is natural weird, like the duck-billed platypus. Then there is weird-weird, such as seeing a U.F.O. hovering over a 7-11. As capes, we have normal-super weird, like having the ability to sprout wings and fly, and then Super-super weird. The best example of that is Strange Quark. Not that I have met him, but there are stories.
Finally there is off-your-noggin weird. Things that are just so utterly baffling you can't help you lost brain cells by looking at it.
When I finally got the boy to safety on the shore of a riverside park, I got my first dose of off-your-noggin weird. A moose (I know. What is a moose doing on the loose in downtown New Amsterdam?) around his neck sniffed around a grotto of trees. Finding something that motivated him, the moose, clearly a male at this point, raised its long leg to... sprinkle a birch tree.
Roots lifted out of the ground at the base of the tree's trunk and wrapped themselves around the creature, creating a makeshift net that grappled the poor animal to the ground. He whimpered and... brayed??? in pain and confusion. The tree's roots tightened and retreated back into the earth, carrying its prey with it.
The boy from the river was spitting water out of his mouth, but appeared to be breathing normally. I shifted my body into that of a giant beaver and charged up to the new encounter. Chitting as a beaver would, I slapped my wide tail on the ground, giving the tree one warning before I began to chew.
The roots snapped and broke, allowing the moose to crawl out from its potentially early grave and ran off as he snorted noisily down the concrete walking path.
A girl should know when the park in her neighborhood has carniverous, Venus-moosetraping trees in their midst. Even a simple sign would be helpful!
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
After saving the drowning boy and the moose, it was past time for my curfew. I needed to get back and get to bed before Mom or Dad checked in on me.
I looked to the kid, shifting to my full super-heroine costume and asked, "Do you need help getting home, young man? I can escort you there safely if you would like."
"Nah, I'm good. I only live a few blocks away. That old dock gave out on me while I was fishing." He stood up and ran his fingers through the mess of wet hair on top of his head. He had a very nice, friendly face. "Thanks for helping me out. Who are you?"
I struck the superhero pose. Chest out. Hands on hips. Chin slightly elevated. "Madam Marvelous. I'm glad I could help."
"I'm Cody. I'll cheer for you in the next league war. What league are you with?"
League?? I hadn't even thought about what league to join yet. I just started heroing. "Ummm... I don't have a league yet. Any recommendations?"
"I like pain," he said.
"Who likes pain? It hurts, doesn't it?" I asked.
"No, dummy. The league PAIN. They kick butt."
"Oh, OK. I'll think on it." I said, making a mental note to look them up. "Thanks. I've got to go now if you're sure you are going to be all right?"
He nodded and waved as he ran off. "See you around, Double M."
I shifted into the body of a snowy-white owl and silently lifted into the cool evening air. Meeting Cody made my night. I didn't know many boys, but he surprised me with his niceness. Why did dad always tell me not to trust them?
As I flew toward home, I spotted Nemesis fighting a street gang. I landed near a stack of tires to watch and see if he needed help.
I need not have bothered. An experienced hero, Nemesis clearly had things well under control. I launched back into the air and let my soft wings carry me home to my bedroom window.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
ARX Raid Fan-Fiction: “Unbreakable, Inconvenient Rules and How to Handle Them…”
I made it home just before 9PM. The living room lights were on, so I knew my parents were still watching TV. Readying to fly up to my bedroom window, I spied a mouse skittering along the ground alongside the exterior of my home. Unable to restrain my excitement, I dove at it, my sharp owl talon’s ready to snatch it up.
Hold on, hold on!!! I curtailed my feral, owl instincts and forced my eyes to look up to the open window to my room. Part of my Morphon-granted abilities gave me the survival knowledge of whatever form it is I might take. As an owl, I know how to be a predatory nocturnal bird, a natural hunter. As a dolphin, I know how to properly swim without arms and legs. Somehow, I tap into a kind of primal, subconscious understanding of my chosen form.
Great for helping me not fall out of the sky while flying. Not so good when my new instincts assert themselves and ring the proverbial dinner bell. Do you know what raw baby squirrel tastes like? I do~ And I’m not talking about just the meat. I mean everything. Ev-er-re-thing! EEEEWWWW!!!!
Fortune was with me, as I found myself able to pull my attention from the tiny rodent to ascending to my room without disturbing the curtains wafting in the light breeze just inside the window’s frame. Dropping down to the bedroom floor from my windowsill, I take my preferred shape as my parent’s teenage daughter. Wings grow and meld into arms. Legs form out of scrawny three toed feet made for perching and gripping my prey. Feathers atop my head become mid-length black hair. The sharp beak softens and shifts into my nose and mouth. Even my eyes reform, eyes that allow me to see exceptionally well in the dark, and become different shades as they reposition on the front of my face.
Just as I finish my transformation, my BADGE communicator starts to vibrate. “Uhgh. What does Nova want now? Do I have to report in after every patrol?”
I grab some underwear and a nightshirt, pulling them on before checking my comm. Nobody was trying to directly call me, it was a group message. “World Alert. ARX active in Hollywood. All heroes called to aid in his defeat/helping protect local citizenry.”
“Oh, wicked,” I cheer, thrilled to be called to my first group mission. I hadn’t even joined a league yet, but I would be able to fight alongside of great heroes like those in the Avengers51, WMD-Black Order, Krystal Fae, Timebender, Crossroads, Doctor Silver Strange Surfer, Nemesis, and so many others. I couldn’t wait.
I threw my bedroom door open and rushed down the stairs, hopping two steps at a time in my rush. My parents were in their chairs in the living room watching the news and the unfolding story of the events in Hollywood as reported by Chaz Hamilton. “We have a sequel here that no producer wanted to see made. Arx has proven to be a true Hollywood Star-zilla, reclaiming not only the role originated before becoming a power-hungry madman, but to be an actual god.”
“They need me there, Mom,” I said, pulling their attention from the television screen to myself. “They are calling in all heroes to help.”
“No,” Mom said as she gave me a wistful smile and shook her head. “It’s past your bedtime. Go climb back in bed and I’ll come tuck you in. Did you brush your teeth?”
“I don’t need to, Mom,” I said. How many times to I need to explain to her I can just shapeshift my teeth clean?
“Now if I can’t trust you to brush your teeth before bed, how can Director Nova trust you to be responsible all the way in California?” She asked and looked over to my father. “Are you going to help me here?”
“You’ve got this one, dear. I support your decision,” he said as he lifted up his data pad and read from its screen. “Kiddo, back to bed. You heard your mother.”
“BUT I WANT TO GO!!!” My feet stomped the carpeted floor despite my best effort to manage my composure. I sometimes forget that the natural instincts of a minor human can be as difficult to control as the urges of primitive animals.
Purposefully, with full intention of me having to watch her pick up the remote and striking the mute button, Mom silenced the television and stood up from her chair. Her face was as immutable and hard as Gar’s. “You heard your father. Do I need to call Director Nova? We let you go to BADGE to learn to control your powers and abilities because you said you could behave yourself. Were you lying to us?”
Insult to injury, she crossed her arms and tapped the big toe of her right foot repeatedly as she waited for my response.
“but…” was all I could manage to say, not able to derive an acceptable counter for her argument.
“Honey, dial BADGE headquarters and hand me the phone,” she said. She took the phone from my father and held it up to her ear as I defiantly stared up at her. “Hello. Can I have Director Nova, please? Yes, it is about the situation in Hollywood.”
If the Director talked to my mother, I wouldn’t get another summons until who-knows-when. I turned and stomped back up to my bedroom. “OK. Whatever. I’m going to bed, but if the heroes fail, it’s all your fault!”
“Yes, dear. Goodnight,” she called up after me. “Don’t slam the door.”
Without powers, how did she know what I planned on doing? Maybe Mom was a secret cape and never told me? That would be cool. I took my hand from the doorknob and gently pushed the door closed.
She might be able to stop me from flying cross-country and fighting Arx, but as long as she didn’t find out that I was Madam Marvelous, she couldn’t stop me from protecting New Amsterdam.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
I couldn't go to sleep easily knowing that Director Nova called for all heroes to come help in Hollywood and here I was, stuck in my bedroom. Mom stole my opportunity to get in good with the other heroes. As I buried my face in my pillow, all I could think about was my first time at BADGE headquarters aboard the space station orbiting the planet.
"Wow," I said to my parents as I gazed out the shuttle windows. "This is unbelievable. I can't even see our street anymore."
"I wish we could be there with you honey, but for safety's sake, we have to stay behind and let you go up there by yourself like a big girl." Dad said with a fake smile on his face. It didn't take a genius to know they were worried. They knew I needed help and training to use my powers, but were still afraid. Afraid of what would happen if people knew who I really was. If super-heroes are real, then super-villains are too. "You changed your shape before you got onto the shuttle, right? Made yourself look different?"
"Yes, Dad." I held up the tablet to my new face, turned on the camera, and showed him how different I looked. Both of them looked startled when they saw a chubby man with a spur of white hair and wearing a blue armored costume gazing back at them. "Do you recognize me?"
"My dear," my mother gasped. "You've gotten quite good at that, haven't you?"
I couldn't help but being a little bit pleased by their reaction. If I could fool them, I could fool anyone. "I saw him on TikToc yesterday. I could make the skin darker--"
"No. No," my dad said. "You're fine as you are. Just remember to show your paperwork to Director Nova when he meets you and the other initiates to their training program. We don't want him thinking you're a spy trying to break in and steal their secrets."
"I've got this, Dad. You guys need to stop worrying already," I said. I leaned in and kissed the screen of the tablet. "Byyyeee!!!"
It wasn't until after I turned off the table I imagined their faces as a strange man leaned in and gave them a princess kiss on camera. Oops.
It didn't take much longer to arrive at the space station and directly after the shuttle landed, the doors hissed open. I let some of the other initiates depart first, not wanting to appear too eager. I managed to worm my way out with a small pack of others, keeping in the background. As I took a look around, dazzled by the metal and glass of the shuttle bay, I spied Director Nova waving for the group of us to approach.
"Welcome, heroes. Take your time, look around."
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
Director Nova is intimidating. He can smile and be pleasant, but he never really seems happy. There is this feeling when you are near him that makes people think that something will go wrong in the worst possible moment, but not in an entirely bad way. There is a confidence around him as well, a bearing of leadership, strength, and duty. I couldn't help but to feel inspired while following his showing us around the space station.
"We're going to take a few moments here in the arboretum for each of you to display your talents. But display them with purpose. The gifts each of you have aren't meant for showing off. They must always be used with care and thoughtful intent," Director Nova said. "Pick a partner and discuss what each of you can do and use your abilities in concert, helping your new friend to better their capability with their gift."
All of us sort of stood around looking at one another for a moment, unsure who to pick as a partner for this task. I gritted my teeth and took a step closer to a girl with soft blond hair, cut in a style shorter than my own natural look. "Hi. What can you do?"
"I can make objects move without touching them," she said. She pulled a shiny nickel out of her pocket and made it lift off her palm and dance in the air. "How about you?"
"I can change my body into anything I want," I replied as I watched her hold the nickel afloat. I tried to decide how best to show her my ability, considering my options of turning into a dog or cat of some type. Neither seemed impressive enough, so I stared at her face before copying her appearance onto my body. It took a few seconds, but when I was done, she stood before me, her jaw hanging open wide enough for a bird to nest in, as she gazed upon a perfect three-dimensional mirror image of herself.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
Suddenly, the air around us broke out into an oppressive cacophony of alarm sirens. I, as did most everyone else in the arboretum, covered my ears with my palms, trying to dull the blaring noise. Director Nova stepped over to a console and tapped at the screen.
The klaxons ceased, to all our relief. Director Nova even seemed pleased to have quiet once more, but he carried a fresh, perplexed look to his visage. He looked at the people assembled in the room, one by one, with his good eye, and by the time his gaze passed over me, I felt the full pressure of his undivided attention. "I'm sorry about that, but let it serve as your first lesson. As an operative for BADGE, you must be prepared at all times for surprises. The unexpected is our business.
His stare moved past me. Relief flooded into my chest, but I couldn't help but wonder what had triggered the alarm. Was it an unexpected training exercise or had there been an actual threat?
Nova returned to his earlier position. "If you are all ready to progress, let us continue..."
A soft knock on my bedroom door brought me out of my memory.
"Are you ready for me to tuck you in?" Mom said through a crack in the partially opened doorway.
"Only if you have to," I said. I rolled onto my back and crossed my arms over my blankets.
Mom entered and took a seat on the mattress beside me. "You have pleasant dreams, sweetheart. We can talk more tomorrow, but I need you to know right now that I'm not mad at you for wanting to go. I hope you're not mad at me for wanting to keep you safe for a little bit longer."
"I'm not mad," I said. I hated being on opposite sides of an arguement with my mother. If I had a weakness as a superhero, it would be my need for her and my father to love me. "I--"
"Shhh," she whispered. "We can talk tomorrow."
I could tell that she hoped the events in Hollywood would be over by the time we woke up and she could show me that I wasn't needed there. I hoped she was right.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
The battle vs Arx ended, but I avoided talking to Mom and Dad about it. I knew my presence wouldn't have made a difference, but it what ended up happening was still a bitter pill to swallow. I knew that they would just want to go on and on about how they were right to want to keep me safe. They were right to keep me home despite being called to service by BADGE. Basically, how they were right in general and I should rethink being a hero until I was thirty.
They were likely right, but I could be thirty if I wanted to be. Or, at least look like I was.
So, I told my parents I was going to play at the park with friends from school. Which I did. For a few minutes at least.
Then I told my friends I was going home, found a secluded spot where I wouldn't be spotted, and did my best Wonder Woman spin, transforming into Madam Marvelous. I didn't need to spin around to morph, and I didn't explode with lights and noise like she did on TV, but it was fun. I don't think there could possibly be a kid out there that didn't pretend to do that at least once in their lives.
Once safely disguised as my secret persona, I spotted a young girl playing basketball alone on the court. She swung the ball between her legs with both hands and tried to launch it up to the basket towering above her. I headed over to her, seeing she needed some encouragement.
"Hi, Leia," I said as I walked up beside her, having recognized she was the younger sister of one of my classmates I just ditched.
"Huuiii," she said dejectedly. "Who are you?"
"A friend. Are you having trouble here?" I asked. I picked up the ball as it bounced on the court.
"Let me give you a hand." I handed her the ball and moved to the pole, bending it down until it was reachable for her. "Take your shot, girl."
She smiled and threw the ball. She still didn't get it in the hoop, but it clamored up against the backboard.
I clapped and praised her for trying. Retrieving the ball, I gave her some of the pointers my father had given me. "Hold it steady and concentrate. Picture the ball going in."
After a few tries, she did. We played for a few minutes before her sister wandered up. As Leia ran up to greet her sister, I returned the pole to its proper height and shifted into the body of a seagull and headed off into the sky, looking for others in need of aid.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
I fly over the headquarters of several leagues while they train in various events. Wild Wave Surf Club have cornered several key positions as they fight in a KOTM with opponents from L.U.S.H., Soldiers of Fortune, and other unaffiliated heroes. I watch for a few moments while disguised as a seagull, curious how these battles work.
I move on, planning to return when I have more time to join in. A few blocks away, I spot some unusual activity. People sneak into an abandoned building and depart with packages containing who knows what. Whatever they have gotten, they act very seedy, as if they are afraid of being caught. This could be interesting to investigate, so I fly down and turn into a unremarkable pedestrian dressed in jeans and a t-shirt behind a dumpster.
I step to the door and knock on the door four times in precise order, just as I observed others doing. The door opens and I am met by a tall, middle-aged man wearing a long brown trench coat. "Come on in, lady. We was about to close up for the day."
The man doesn't seem particularly threatening, so I slide past him and into a dirty, abandoned store. Another man, slightly heaver-set in a muscular way with a mullet tied back in a tail, stood behind the counter where a cash register should have been. He nods at me politely. "Don't got much, dear, but take a look. These pants are made from hair woven from Zeus's own beard."
I'd heard that there were Black Market shops opening up all over, but this was my first time finding one. "This business you're doing here, it's not entirely legal, is it?"
"It depends on how you look at it. The market right now for heroes is a monopoly owned and controlled by the Mighty Morphon business. Monopolies are illegal, aren't they? So by buying the right and proper way, you only have one choice completely controlled by an illegal market." The man's nose wiggled as he spoke. The more I listened to him, I noticed how similar his features compared to those of a weasel, most notably because of his pointy, protruding nose. "My supplying an option for purchasing from a different source legitimizes this unbalanced economy. And if it gets you a better price based on the principles of my supply and your demand for said items, who is really being hurt?"
His arguement, while long-winded, did make sense. Being a cape could be a very, very expensive business. I stared at the lovely pantaloons, curious how they might feel against my skin and what benefit I might obtain while wearing them.
Temptation overpowered me. The higher ground might be where I wanted to stand, but a bargain is a bargain in any world.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
I leave the Black Market and opt to head to the New Amsterdam Business District. With lunchtime quickly approaching, hundreds of businesspeople will be hitting the streets for food trucks, restaurants, and hot dog stands. If I were a super-villain, I'd be waiting there for a target ready to be fleeced. Of course, being in the form of a seagull, I might just be hungry and wanting to grab whatever scraps I can find.
Trusting my instincts weren't food-driven, I headed toward the tallest skyscrapers in the city.
My prediction was right on target. Men and women in smart, colorful business attire streamed out onto the street from building after building. A urge to strafe them as I fly over plays in the back of my mind. If I ever wondered if birds did what they did to cars on purpose, I now knew the answer. My dad's gonna be so mad.
I noticed that the most common bird around me was a dove, so I decided to change mid-flight from a bright white bird to a softer grey one. Bad decision. The weight and wingspan difference caused me to drop a few stories until I stabilized into my new form. I had to work my upper arms, I mean wings and breasts to keep from plummeting to the ground and going splat. Future note to self: DON'T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!
Landing on a flagpole, I survey the milling people below me. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a figure dressed in black doing its very best to avoid being spotted from below. He darts along a balcony, using sculpted topiaries and decorative gargoyles to hide behind. Only my vantage point gave me the ability to observe his skilled attempts to go unseen.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
"A Heroic Holiday" Part One
“What a wonderful summer day,” Agent Leslie says as she brings the BADGE shuttle down to land on a beautiful coastal beach. “I hope all of you plan on being on your best behavior.”
I look at the other probationary youths who are with me on this outing. There are thirteen of us, mostly varying ages of teenagers, stuffed into the back of a transport full of pool noodles, packages of inflatable duck-shaped pontoons, and coolers full of potato salad.
“I can’t wait to meet Agent Chase,” a young man with a competitive body-builder’s frame says to another slightly younger boy with a more cerebral look. “She has these ultra-wicked shuriken she throws. I’m hoping I can get her as my combat trainer.”
“I doubt any of the main staff will take on apprentices,” the younger boy says. “They are too busy trying to figure out who super-charged Arx.”
I look back out the large windshield and admire the view of the ocean. There were several breeds of fish I hoped to find and swim with. Sure, that’s me. I’m that kid who goes to the beach and wants to spend my time finding a school. I keep my plans to myself, as I know that if I can come up with a bad pun to explain what I want to spend my time doing, others would eventually get there too.
The shuttle lands and Agent Leslie steps to the doorway. “Now, each of you must remember to stay in the designated areas and keep your tracking bracelets on at all times. I spent a lot of time hunting for a lost hero last year and I don’t want to go through that again.”
Collectively, we all groaned. We were training to be super-heroes for BADGE. Why treat us like average kids?
One by one, we filed out of the shuttle and dispersed into the sizable group of heroes basking in the sun. Most of the others paired off, but I preferred to keep my options unfettered.
“Agent Leslie, how is it that so many of the heroes here aren’t wearing their masks? Aren’t they worried about their secret identities?” I ask.
“We’ve asked our staff to create some assurances for everyone’s safety. Magical heroes have cloaked this place in a spell that doesn’t allow surveillance. Technically skilled heroes have done the same for bugs and electronic devices that could be used to track people. We’ve kept the location safe as well.” She crouches down and whispers. “Not even Chaz Hamilton could find us for this party. No press allowed.”
“How come. I thought he was on our side.”
“Everyone needs down time every so often. It is hard to relax when you are constantly being questioned and watched.” Agent Leslie motions to some BADGE agents at a nearby shuttle. They move over and start unloading the gear our shuttle transported. “After Hollywood…,” she trails off as she turns from me and gazes at the water,” …well, we all need to have some fun while we can.”
I nod. Nobody, even I, don’t want to talk about the loss that day. I’d never met WarMachine but felt the sting of his sacrifice.
“Go,” Agent Leslie says as she waves me off. “Shoo. Have fun.”
I dart off. I chose the form of a young girl similar to my own natural body to shapeshift into for the excursion.
Off to one side of the beach, heroes have already started to line up waiting for food. I can smell the glorious scent of sizzling meat cooking. One group of heroes is cooking mouthwatering hamburgers of industrial sizes grills. I can already taste the hickory flavor in the smoke and the bacon frying to the perfect crispy but not too crispy perfection. My inner carnivore is howling to be feed.
Then I smell something more nuanced. Cooking meat, but with a greater variety of seasonings and cheese. Brats. Hot Dogs. Sausages. Needless to say, my nose takes in a deep inhale of the best of the wurst.
Which one do I want first? My mind goes haywire as I am caught between two delightful choices. I can have both, of course. I know this. There clearly isn’t a short supply of either food, based on the towering piles of coolers set off to the side. Which do I crave more?
I look around and I can see that I am not the only one who is struggling with the choice. Cheers break out supporting one or the other from heroes waiting to eat. Some of the more hot-headed heroes even begin to shove one another, calling names as tensions begin to mount.
“No fighting, no fighting people,” Agent Justin comes out from a tent carrying six long lengths of rope with red ribbons tied in the middle. “We’re here to have fun, so let’s have fun. Burger people to the left, Hot dog fans to the right. We’re gonna have a tug of war.”
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
“A Heroic Holiday” Part 2
The scent of estrogen and testosterone permeate both sides of the Tug of War tournament grounds. Six ropes stretch out with one side being held by Hamburger Aficionados such as The Avenger51, Dr. Silver Strange Surfer, and Crossroads. The competitors at the other end of the rope are Hot Dog Enthusiasts (I have to giggle. Sorry. There is no way to make it not sound like a double entendre.) like Hot Wings, Martial Law, and Macaia’s Daughter.
I can’t help but to be a bit star-struck seeing so many big hero names out on the beach in one place. PAIN-GUIN is there. He made big news not to long ago, advancing quickly up to the highest echelon of League War competition. Nobody on the planet can help but know who Midgardsormr is. Shinobi 51 is analyzing his opposition, deciding whose powers to mimic as he prepares to take his place at the rope.
Anomaly is there, the only hero I know whose powers were activated by a lightning strike. I think he is still glowing because of it, if I am being honest, but it could just be a trick of the light. Captain Bob of the Seraphim Angels is here, as well. Of all the captains here, his name is the easiest to remember.
The Tug of War competition isn’t the only activity on the beach, of course. Many heroes have opted out of the effort of yanking on a thick rope in favor of working on their tans or playing volleyball. Some are out in the water splashing around, scaring the fish, while others are listening to music.
Every gathering has to get a bit political eventually, and the Mayor and Solomon are arguing about divisional gerrymandering or some such topic. Things get a bit heated, but from everything I’ve seen so far, it is typical banter for them. I decide to leave them to argue themselves out and go searching for some of the new initiate heroes I arrived with.
As much as I respect the older heroes, I can’t help but feel like I am part of a next generation. I have hope for the future while so many of them see only doom and gloom. Maybe Agent Leslie was right and the heroes really just need the excuse to have some well-deserved fun. A spark to re-ignite their inner fire for the work we all do. Protecting freedom. Keeping our loved ones safe. Stopping evil from triumphing.
While the holiday is strongly tied to the United States celebrating its formation, I like to think of it more as Independence Day. It isn’t about celebrating just this one country but honoring those who fought to preserve our freedoms and choice to exist as who we want to be. That has all come at a cost over time, and it has been paid in a variety of different currencies. Sometimes even in lives.
What we are right now isn’t perfect, but it is much better than it could be as well. Some of the heroes here are perfect examples of such. Some are aliens from different worlds. A few are from other dimensions, escapees or refugees from a long-lost homeland destroyed before my time. I can’t speak to everyone’s stories, but many are founded in extreme events that separate the hero from their family, in illegal treatment done without consent, and the loss of rights that no being should have to endure.
As my thoughts start to become too much like a dour civics class, I catch a whiff of cooking hot dogs once more. I spy that some of the food has finally been placed out on tables for heroes to dig into. My decision is made. I’m going to have a hot dog first, blistered and blackened just enough to give the needed flavor to an ideal summer treat. Mustard. Sweet relish. Freshly diced onions. Yeah. That’s my jam.
I work my way over to the table and construct my ideal build. I can taste the deliciousness before it ever touches my tongue. I lift the hot dog up and close my eyes to take my first bite.
“You’re a moron!” Someone yells.
“You talk too much!” Another voice rings out from behind the mass of people waiting in line for food.
I manage to keep my eyes closed and enjoy my lunch a little bit before I hear the squelchy noise. A gasp of shock silences all from speaking.
Opening one eye, I see that someone has thrown a metal chafing dish full of hot dogs all over the arguing Mayor and Solomon. Ketchup, mustard, and all the fixings drip down from their heads to toes.
I duck down beneath the table I am standing next to, fully aware of what two words are going to be shouted next. I am in high school, after all. This is a fairly routine occurrence.
<to be continued…>
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
In reply to this post by Madam Marvelous
So, I saw this shady figure watching over business people as they had their lunches.
I do have to say, Food Trucks might seem like a risky endeavor, but based on the lines of people waiting to make purchases, the risk might be worth the effort. Ten, twenty people deep, the lines move efficiently up to the ordering window and after a short wait, food is being eaten.
The target of the shady figure stands out like a sore thumb. She is carrying a briefcase handcuffed to her wrist, and as soon as she steps away with a bag from one of the trucks, the observer on the balcony is moving as well. Everything about his movement tells me he is up to no good.
The lady moves into a parking garage. Her pursuer leaps across the alley between the roof he is on and the building she moves into. Clearly, he has some talents. Fortunately for me, while in pigeon-form, bird watching isn't a skill he put points into.
He moves to the elevator door on the 7th floor as I swoop in and peck at some stale popcorn on the floor. At least I hope it is stale popcorn. The indicator above the steel doors shows the elevator cab is on its way up.
The man, who I now clearly see is wearing the customary clothing of a ninja, steps to one side. I can tell he is waiting to ambush the person who next steps out. Time to make my move.
I run at him, flapping my wings and cooing as I begin my transformation into Madam Marvelous. Short legs become long. Feathers become my costume. You get the picture. Capturing his attention, he recognizes his cause is lost. He draws his blades and prepares to fight me.
I am fully Madam Marvelous as I reach his hidey-hole. He swings at me, connecting with a chop to my left side. His hand flows into my gelatinous body. I quickly harden around his limb, securing him in my body. My ameboid form can be very, very fun.
His eyes flash with an instant of panic as i envelop him, allowing my entire body to become lime-green jello except for my head. My mass increases until I finally pin him to the ground underneath my weight.
"Stttaaaayyyy ssstttiiiillll aaanddd iiiiI willlll lleeetttt yyyouuuuu goo freee," I say. I need to remember to not transform my voicebox next time I attempt this. I feel his head bob up and down within me.
Madam Marvelous one, Ninja ZERO!!!
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
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