Judge Not

May 25, 2000, 9:40 pm, Midland Park

It was a typical summer afternoon, the sun was shining. Dr. Jane Hamilton could hear the laughter of children playing. She smiled to herself and continued placing fired chicken on paper plates. She glanced down at her arms and hands. They were both NORMAL!

A handsome man flopped down beside her, smiling that special smile that he always reserved for her. My other half, my friend, my lover, the father of our children, she thinks feeling a tear well up which he brushes away.

As he leaned into kiss her, his love turned to horror and loathing, as her hands turn green and vines start to grow. The laughing turns to shrieks of fear and loathing…

"Mary Mother of God!"

The woman that was once Jane Hamilton awoke to the sounds of men outside her carefully made home. It was night, dark, deep in the woods, as only nature can be. No artificial lights speared down, creating shadows even as they dispelled the dark.

"I'm sorry, Brewster," the voice was slightly high, with a nervous quality to it.

*smack* "How many times do we hafta go through this? No names, goddammit!" This voice was deep and the menace in it was clear.

Ivy could hear them shuffling around. How dare they intrude here? Ivy thought as anger from the dream spilled over into wakefulness. A flash of a lighter caused Ivy to start back, causing the bushes to move slightly. She became still and blinked rapidly to try and restore her night vision.

"Did ya hear that?" Nervous Man again. "Saints preserve me, why do we have to meet here, I don't like this place. I always feel like someone is watching me. Can't ya feel it? Eyes watching our every move."

"Because this is where the drop will be. Now do shut up," a new voice answered, calm and educated.

A minute or so passed and then Nervous Man spoke again. "When is Tusk getting here with the Judge?"

Deep Voice struck Nervous Man, sending him tumbling to the ground. Deep Voice then drew his gun. "That's it, no more warnings."

Cultured Man spoke up, there was panic in his voice. "Jesus Christ! Are you nuts? Not here, man."

As Ivy watched, the man on the ground started to crab-crawl backwards frantically. "JesusGodpleasedon't!"

The third man spoke up. "Put the gun down, man. This isn't going to solve anything!"

Deep Voice answered, almost purring his words. "Sure it will. It will get this fuckface out of our hair." He then reached over and put his hand over his closed fist, pulled back on the hammer, and aimed at the man on the ground.

Anger flowed through Ivy. How dare these, these beasts try to commit murder on my very doorstep! She reached deep inside her for the power that had been hers ever since that fateful night. It responded to her touch like an eager hound at a leash. And just as one would a hound, she harnessed the power to her hand. Placing a hand on a nearby bush, she sent the power coursing through the plants until she reached her limit.

Let them fear the night, fear the forest, Ivy thought with satisfaction.

The bush began first. A rustling that the three men at first missed. And then the trees and small plants joined in, whipping branches, reaching unnaturally for those that dared to invade their domain. Ivy blinked in amazement at the viciousness. Had some of her anger traveled with the power?

Cultured Man threw out a strangled cry like that of a drowning kitten, then turned and ran. He tripped over an object that Ivy had not noticed until then. It slowed him down very little.

The gunman whipped around in a circle pointing his gun first in one direction and then the other. There was a definite feel of malice in the way the trees moved, as if they hungered. For an instant Ivy felt sorry for the men. The one on the ground scrambled over and took off at a dead run. He could be heard falling over and over again.

The gun is dangerous, Ivy thought to herself, especially now that Deep Voice is frightened. Ivy extended vines from her body through the underbrush. Quickly they moved towards the gunman. One of the vines climbed up his leg and down his arm wrapping itself around the slide action. The other insinuated itself behind the trigger, preventing the man from squeezing the trigger. With a desperate strength born of pure fear, the man wrenched out of the vines' grasp and fled toward civilization. This left Ivy in possession of the field, the gun and the curious object the Cultured Man had tripped over.

Ivy moved across the clearing and crouched down beside the object. It appeared to be a black briefcase with a lock on it. Before she could do anything else, a slight tremor reached her through the ground. Looking up she stared in amazement at the being now standing in the small clearing. The man's legs were the thickness of a small oak, the chest wide and deep. The man's head was that of an elephant, complete with ears, tusks and a trunk.

"Gee, I thought I was dropping the Judge off with a couple of N's, oh well. I see you have my stuff." With that he drooped an unconscious man in Ivy's lap. The man unconscious man was wearing a judge's robe.

"See ya later." The elephant man then ran off into the bushes.

Ivy sat in stunned silence as the figure ran off, too shaken really do anything for a second or two. She then examined the unconscious "judge."

Through the small forest in the middle of Midland Park, a light glided. It was bright and illuminated a fair size of the area through which it moved. In the light a figure dressed in a jogging suit, with long white hair, and daggers of light held in her fists, ran with the steady even pace of an experienced runner. Her name was Chapel and her nightly jog had turned into more then she had bargained for.

A battle with a teleporting thug and another who looked like an elephant who had run off with a judge slung over his shoulder is not my idea of a workout, Chapel thought to herself. But her thoughts were broken by the appearance of another strange phenomenon. In front of her, a black vortex quickly opened up. The vortex quickly elongated backwards and formed an aperture. Chapel stared in disbelief. Teleporters, elephantmen and holes in the sky, oh my, Chapel paraphrased the popular saying to herself.

As she watched a figure appeared through the black aperture and rolled to her feet with the precision of a gymnast. When she straightened, Chapel could see a woman, seemingly made of solid crystal - possibly even diamond. The woman didn't seem to be wearing anything, not that it really mattered – nothing indecent was showing.

The woman known to most as Diamond quickly glanced around and then took a defensive stance, obviously from some form of martial arts.

"Umm… hi. Seen a half-human, half-elephant come running this way with a man slung over his shoulder," Diamond asked, keeping one eye on the jogger in front of her, the other scanning the trails.

"Well as a matter of fact, I did see the thing you are looking for, and as it turns out, I'm looking for the same thing. By the way aren't you cold just standing there like that?"

She must be an ally, Chapel thought to herself. And with that decision made, she willed the globe of light to wink out. The small area of forest was quickly plunged into darkness. The only light coming from the five light daggers that Chapel kept ready in her hands, the light giving Chapel an eerie appearance.

She has completely blue eyes, Diamond thought unsteadily, and what the hell are in her hands? To cover her surprise, she responded.

"No, I'm not. But we don't have time to discuss what I'm wearing. Tusk, the elephant man, has kidnapped Judge Carmen Blanchard. What direction did you see him going in?"

Diamond quickly looked behind her, the aperture though which she had come was gone.

"By the way, what park is this?" Diamond asked.

"Well to your first question, he came through here and appears to be going in that direction." Chapel pointed behind Diamond, where the aperture used to be. "As for question two, you're the one that teleported here and you don't even know were you are? Teenagers now a days! You're in Midland Park, but enough chit chat, I just saw a tree move in the direction Snuffy took off."

With that Chapel jogged past Diamond. A teenager, am I? I guess diamonds are ageless, Diamond thought to herself as she rushed to catch up to the woman.

"How do you know so much about the person that was flung over Mr. Elephant's shoulder?" Chapel asked as the two followed the clear trail that Tusk had left.

"I happened to be watching 'In the City' when the attack by Tusk happened on live television. I was nearby and went in to help, and was a bit too late. Veiled Threat had apparently teleported Tusk here to the park, and the remnants of the portal were still there, so I dove through. Where I was going wasn't as important as rescuing Blanchard and catching Tusk."

Veiled Threat, Chapel thought to herself. At least now I have a name to go with the face.

As she completed that thought, the two women burst through a clearing and slid to a stop. About two meters in front of them, Judge Carmen Blanchard rested unmoving on the ground. Above him crouched a woman, her hair long and green, and her skin appeared to be smooth and green as well. Vines some with small folded flowers covered her body. As the two women watched, some of the vines crept slowly along the woman's body, repositioning themselves. Her eyes slits as she turned and looked at the two were completely green and had a slight luminance to them. In her hands was a brown leather wallet.

What the hell now? Ivy thought to herself. Wait a moment I recognize the crystal one, she stopped a mugging in the park a few days ago. I don't know who 'Miss Fitness' is. Still that gives them no right… Wait, 'Miss Fitness' hands…

"Alright, Miss," Diamond commanded, putting as much authority into her voice as she could manage, "Put the wallet down and step back from him."

Diamond looked around for Tusk as she made to approach the downed Judge. To Chapel she issued another order, "Check and see if Tusk is still around, while I see how Blanchard is doing."

A globe of pure white light sprung into behind Chapel's head and the light daggers in her left hand disappeared.

"I am a healer." She touched Diamond's arm lightly. "You are best equipped to deal with a rampaging elephant, I think."

"All right," Diamond responded, and stepped back, though still keeping an eye on the healer. She turned to the plant woman.

And a sense of calm and well being pervaded the small clearing as the light from the globe touched the pair. Diamond relaxed a little but Ivy pushed the feeling aside and stood, slowly sweeping her gaze from one figure to the other, her expression quickly going from one of surprise to mild disdain. Her vines coiled tighter about her body as she glowered at the pair for a second.

"All these visitors tonight and not even a call… how rude…" Ivy glanced at the unconscious Judge. "You have something to do with this… and the rather large tusked gentleman that just stomped through my park?" Her voice was odd and raspy, with a hollow echo in it, almost like a bad recording of human voice.

"Your park? Yeah, right," Diamond muttered to herself. "I followed Tusk here to rescue the Judge," Diamond said to the plant woman, gesturing towards Blanchard. "Did you see the elephant man? If you did, which way did he go?"

Ivy flicked the wallet toward the crystalline woman, not stepping back. "You are in my home… do not make demands… the one you call Tusk, he was to meet three men who where here earlier, one named Brewster. I believe they had his payment for the kidnapping." She watched the "healer" with detached curiosity. "You are a mutant?"

"Well, if your asking me if I'm a mutant, greeny, I'm not exactly sure myself. I wasn't born with these powers, or I don't think I was. They just came out one day when one of the people I teach Aerobics to hurt herself and I went over to see what happen. When I touched her I glowed and she felt better. Ahh. Miss Glasswoman, are you going to go after Tusk or stand there looking like you're freezing?"

Ivy bristled visibly at the "greeny" comment. "My name is… Ivy… call me that."

"Forgive the intrusion," Diamond replied with a slight tinge of sarcasm. "Which way did Tusk go?"

Ivy gestured off in the direction 'Tusk' barrelled off toward with a hand.

"I have questions to ask of this Tusk… and he owes me an apology…" Diamond's muttered sarcasm seemed to have struck a chord in Ivy, making her eyes flare a bit brighter for a moment. She then stalked off in the direction Tusk was headed in.

"It's about time," a woman's voice spoke dryly from the bushes in front of Ivy.

Out of those bushes stepped a woman dressed much like an ancient samurai, complete with two swords at her left hip. However, the armour wasn't as bulky as those seen on display.

"While the three of you have been arguing, Tusk has been getting further away."

The stranger then gave Ivy a slight bow. "I apologize for intruding."

"I'll ask who you are later…" Ivy responded, starting to wonder if she should build on some guest rooms. She then added over her shoulder to the crystalline woman, "She is correct, we should hurry."

"Well, we can't just leave Blanchard here," Diamond protested.

"The healer can tend to Blanchard," Ivy suggested over her shoulder.

"She is right. You guys go on ahead, I'll take care of the Judge," Chapel answered, slinging Blanchard over her shoulder in the classic fireman's carry. "He just suffered a knock on the head, he'll be fine. I'll catch up later."

Ivy nodded, a slightly disturbed look on her face. "Tusk seems to be heading in that direction." Her frown deepened as she noticed the trampled vegetation.

The three women followed the trail until they reached the well-manicured grass and pathways of the park mainstay. There was no sign of Tusk.

The samurai moved off from the group a few paces and looked around with a slight tilting of her head. Ivy closed her eyes and reached into the pool of power that seemed to now reside at the very centre of her being. This time she didn't want to use it, only feel through it. Taking several deep breaths, she felt her consciousness sink into the ground at her feet and quickly expand outwards.

Ivy felt a sleepy feeling and many pressures which she knew from experience to be the impression of people walking on the grass. But the most recent and the heaviest lead directly to one of the shale path ways. And here her sense was to weak to discern which way he went after reaching the shale. On the very edge of her awareness, Ivy sensed a feeling of distress but it was very old. Ivy took note of the area of distress for later investigation.

Diamond stood watching the pair. They seemed to know what they were doing, I don't remember anything about this about this samurai woman though. Of course, she thought with some humor, I don't know anything about the other two. They seem to coming out of the woodwork.

"He went that way," Ivy stood, breaking Diamond's musing and pointed towards the shale path, "but I don't know if he went left or right." Diamond let Ivy lead the way, as she seemed to know what she's doing.

When the three heroes reached the pathway the samurai squatted down and sniffed the air. Many people had been through here but she quickly discarded the old and concentrated on any new smells. It didn't take long to pick up Tusk's unique odour.

"He went left," she announced to the other two and jogged off in that direction, not waiting to see if the others had followed.

"Towards Tavern on the Green," Ivy breathed and with that comment her eyes rolled to the back of her head and as Diamond watched in amazement, she started to wither. The body fell in on itself until nothing was left but the dried outline of a body, which then fell promptly to the ground.

"What the…" Diamond exclaimed softly. "I hope she's okay," she said, as she followed the samurai.

The two women ran in silence for several minutes until the samurai suddenly threw up her hand and slowed to a stop.

"There are more people ahead. Four, maybe 5, and Ivy as well, interesting. Fear level has incre…"

From somewhere up ahead, the sound of automatic gun fire ripped the night air.