"And I got this one from the people who dada works with," Rebecca handed her mother the stuffed animal and went on detailing her new collection of stuffed animals. Ivy looked at the animal and smiled. The elephant was purple, but otherwise correct. She had been regulated to her daughter's bedroom when the police had shown up to look at the photo wallet.
She looked at the elephant then her daughter, "hmm…Great Grape elephant,very rare."
Ivy had to consciously resist the urge to gather the child up and hold her constantly. It had been so long, it seemed like ages before, since she had been able to see her, hear her laugh. Reaching out, she ran a hand over the little girl's cheek. Hiding had nearly cost her this, her children and maybe had one of them…
From the living room where Jon and Kate talked to the police officers came an angry shout, "How dare you come into my home and accuse my son of something like this!"
"Just a second sweetie."
Curious, Ivy stepped a little closer to the door, pressing an ear to it. The conversation was rather muffled by the wood… instinctively she recoiled a little from the dead plant matter. It was almost like pressing her face to a corpse. Perhaps there was another way. Mentally she reached out, trying to let her mind touch fledgling "awareness" shared by plants, even the potted ones in the living room. Perhaps she could garner some knowledge of events there.
The sheer alieness of this state was both thrilling and a little frightening. Her senses changed, tempature and air content became paramount, sight a secondary curiosity and there was always the hint of something more just a little out of her reach. Even Rebecca's welcome presence came to her more as her body heat, scents and respiration.
She felt the life around her but the voice came to her as alien language and she drew back. Easing the door open, the voices became more clear.
"Mr. Hamilton, we must follow any leads that present themselves no matter how distastful if we are to have a chance to find your son. Can you give us a better explanation as to why a 12 year old boy would have $30 in his wallet?" The female voice had a calm, authoritive timbre to it, as if she were talking about the weather, rather then Ivy's son.
What were they trying to say about her son, he had some extra money…he was rather thrifty. Where they trying to say somehow it was his fault that some bastard had taken him? Anger, totally her own, not the more primal emtions of the symbiont rose in her. Oh,how she's love to tell that the officer off. Hmph, she shook her head, she could see it: "Yes I'm the boy's mother, officer, can't you see… he has my chloroplasts. Stifling a bitter laugh, she listened closer.
Kate spoke up, "Andy collects comics, and has a rather sizable fund from the company after his mother's death. It is quite possible he planned to what do they call it hon? Pick up his file?"
"Comics?" This time a male voice spoke up, surprise clear.
The female cop spoke with a hint of relief, "My little sister would spend that much a week on them if she could. Do either of you know which comic store he frequents?"
There was silence from below and then finally Jon spoke up. "No. But I am sure there is a receipt or something in his room."
Rebecca poked her mother, "I know. It's called Stargate. I could take you there."
Ivy looked down at her, thinking for a moment. "Maybe that were he was going… perhaps someone saw him…" she whispered to herself. After scribbling a quick note to Jon and getting a small picture of Rebecca and Andrew from her girl's dresser, she picked up Rebecca and left via the window, down creeping vines Ivy sculpted into a functional ladder. Down in the back yard, she pulled the large hat back over her hair and adjusted the coat for maximum coverage. Taking Rebecca's hand she said, "Now, where is this comic shop?"
"Cooool," Rebecca exclaimed.
Quickly the two made their way to the comic store. The Stargate Comic store was a fairly large building with a swivel front enterence. A group of kids were grouped outside. A closed sign hung on the doorway.
Walking hand in hand with Rebecca she approached the store, looking over the exterior and the children,looking for any familar faces.
"Hey 'Becca, " Ted, a boy from down the street called out, "what are you doing here? The store is closed. They could as least given us some notice!"
The rest of the kids nodded and began wondering off, muttering to each other.
"You know I bet it has something to do with Jay's lazy brother Brewster."
Ivy walked up to the kid who had spoken and put a hand on his shoulder, "Excuse me… who is Brewster?" She tried to keep her voice even but some intensity came into it.
The kid started and looked up at her. "Whoa!"
Before he began to panic, Rebecca ran up. "It's okay, she's here to find Andy."
"Cool, is she, are you a superhero? You think Brewster had something to do with this? I wouldn't put it past him. His brother is always after him to pay more attention to the business and less time to pool."
He was bouncing back and forth in excitment, "I overheard them argue one day about Cue Balls, so he might be there. Yeah I bet that Rod had to go get him, that's why Stargate's closed."
"Cue Balls, a pool hall, do you know where it is?" she asked the boy quietly, releasing his shoulder. Ivy ignored his question about being a superhero, she didn't feel like one, not now.
"Ummm, not really, just a sec. Hey Billy! Come here."
The group of kids walked over and reacted in various states of surprise upon seeing Ivy.
"It's okay, she's the superhero, ummm, say, what's your name?"
Ivy looked at the small cluster of kids forming around her, a mixture of confusion and amusement going through her. A superhero… in a ratty stol- umm… borrowed man's coat and hat, yeah… "Ivy… my name's Ivy…"
"She is going to solve Andy's kidnapping and she needs our help," Kevin Reeds spoke with pride.
"She needs our help…"
"Wow, a superhero…"
"Not really… well I guess…"
"Do you have a comic…"
"What can we do…?"
"I need to find Brewster… where is this pool hall?" Ivy asked, smiling slightly despite herself, giving up trying to sort through the general commotion.
"I know where it is, Ivy," Billy elbowed his way to the front, the other children fell silent, "It's in Port Albion. My father goes there all the time."
Ivy smiled at the boy, "Thank you…" She ruffled his hair then looked at Rebecca. "It might be dangerous there… so you'de better head home now." Looking for one of the older kids, she asked him to walk Rebecca back home. She wasn't looking forward to another bus ride. Ahh the glamorous life of a superhero, she thought.
"Don't worry," Kevin annouced, "we'll get her home safely."
As one the group surrounded Rebecca and marched off.
"We need a name like the Baker Street Irregulars."
"How about Sprouts?"
"Eck. How about The Thorns…"
Ivy shook her head and moved to the bus stop.
Several uneventful hours later. Port Albion, the alley beside Cue Balls
The front of the pool hall wore graffitte and the only window was boarded up. A bum squatted off to the side and mumbled at the passersby. The sky began to cloud over and the air held the scent of rain.
Ivy frowned and shifted. The area made her feel uneasy.
She drew the coat closer around herself, walking up to the place. The smell of urban decay and pollution hit her like something tangible. She could feel it soaking into her skin, clogging her body's channels. As she walked up to the building, she was aware of shard of broken glass poking her in the soles, slicing narrow cuts that quickly healed. Ivy looked about, looking for signs of habitation in the abandoned-looking building.
She could hear music and loud voices from inside, but the name Brewster caught her attention. Stepping into the building, she ignored the looks that everyone collected in such an establishment and looked around. Near the back, the man-with-the-gun from the night before was between two other men wearing dark glasses. Each man had a hand on one of Brewster's arms and they disappeared into the back. The pool hall went about its business.
She followed, heading for the door they had disappeared through, looking about defensively at the unsavory patrons in the place.
The dingy hallway lead to an emergency exit. Pushing the door open as quietly as she could, the sound of voices reached her.
"Come on man, what is this. What are you guys doing…"
The sound of a scuffle, and then a familar sound of metal on metal as Ivy eased around the door. In the alleyway the two men stood over the prone Brewster, both had guns pointed at him. From what Ivy remembered from movies, both guns were silenced.
"Brewster, Brewster," one man shook his head, "You screwed up, big. Where's the wallet?"
Ivy snatched up a heavy trash can and hurled it the gunmen, shrugged out of her coat and snarled, "You want that punk, you'll have to wait your turn."
The trash can spun lopsided through the air and connected solidly with one of the gunmen. The man staggered forward, tripping over Brewster's prone body. The gun skittered into the trash and the man lay there, bringing a shaking hand to his head.
The other spun, gaping at her in shocked surprise, seemingly forgetting the gun in his hands. Brewster took the oppuritunity to crabcrawl backwards and stumble to his feet. He turned to flee.
Ivy lashed out with her vines, trying to smash the gunman aside before he recalled the gun in his hand. Fire would attract attention and might harm someone. Still, she tried to stay somewhat in the shadow of the doorway, for cover if he did get off a shot.
Her vine slashed across the gunman's chest, picking him up and slamming him into the building. He slid bonelessly to the ground. Stunned for a split second by her strength, Ivy gaped as Brewster ducked around the corner of the alleyway. The second gunman began groping groggily through the trash.
She had to catch Brewster, it was the only lead on her son. She took off after Brewster, running past the fallen gunman, whipping out a vine to smack him as she passed.
The vine struck the man on the backside, sending him sprawling into the garbage. Ivy did not pause to see if the man got up again. She rounded the cornor and her prey stumbled over his own feet as he glanced back. Ivy walked over to him. His clothes were ruffled and stained, his eyes wandered, and his hands shook.
"Please," his hands went up in front of him as lay there shivering, "please don't hurt me. I like plants."
She smirked. "Well, this plant doens't like you." Reaching out she enveloped him in her vines, pulling him closer. "Where are the children?" she hissed, glaring at him. She lifted a hand, holding it up to his face as wicked thorns burst from her fingertips, greenish yellow fluid trickling from the tears.
Brewster licked his lips. This close Ivy could smell the putrid aroma that hung over the man.
"Please. I can't. They'll kill me.
"They're not here now… you only have to worry about me…" she hissed in response, drawing her moist talons down his cheek. The meaty filthy stink of the man sickened her, his body was a putrid mass fit only to nourish the earth, compost waiting to happen. He had taken her son or knew who had. "Tell me now." Her voice was a quiet breathy hiss, a slight acrid scent exuding from her.
"If I like what you have to say then we can talk protection… make it good or I will save them the trouble!" Her talons slide further down, coming to to rest agsint the pulsing vein in his neck.
"Port AlbionSomewhere on the south docksTheywillbeshippingthemoff. Please. I don't know anything else."
"Shipping?!" her grip tuightened,talons just pricking his flesh. "What do you mean shipping!" Ivy slammed his aginst the stone wall. "Who?!"
"I don't know. Please. All I know is that we ship them out. Been doing it for years. My brother does all the meeting stuff. I just do the photos." Suddenly his eyes light up. "My brother mentioned a doctor once. I don't know his name. Only that Rod was pissed at this doctor's attitude. After all, he didn't take any big risks, just kept the kids quiet. He'll be there tonight, too. Please, its all I know. You'll protect me right? I know faces, I can ID them."
"When will this… shipment take place?" It took all her will not to drive his stinking body into the wall. He was right, though, he could idenify the guilty. "You'll go to the police, tell them everything you know…"
Brewster dropped to his knees sobbing agreement. Ivy watched as he staggered to his feet and swayed toward the street.
"Brewster… remember go to the police or pray your 'friends' find you first." With that she headed back to the two thugs she had knocked out before to search them for money, or better still, car keys.
Meanwhile, across town…
The alarm screamed at her and she groggerily opened her eyes, trying to focus on the time. 3:00pm. God. Dragging herself out of bed she threw herself into the shower. 2 hours of sleep. Nice. Not. But she still needed that interview with Dr. Golstar and before Monday or kiss that credit goodbye.
A couple of hours later she was glaring down at his secretary.
"I am sorry, miss, but Doctor Golstar is not here. I am afraid you missed your appointment by a day. I could schedule you in next Thurs…"
A sound went off in the interior of the small building.
"Please excuse me." The secretary jumped up and hurried through the door behind her.
What the…? Katrina got up and walked around the secretary's desk, then took a peek through the door. OK, looks like lunch. And since she'll be gone for a few minutes… let's see just how busy the good doctor is.
She then looked at the desk. The appointment book was lying open. The only entry for the day was 10:30 PM Port Albion, south docks, Warehouse 6.
Katrina looked again to make sure she'd seen that right. What the Hell would a professor be doing in a warehouse on the docks at all, much less at 10:30 at night? Her eyes narrowed. Methinks Flashpoint will be there, too… there's an outside chance that this is legit, but…
Katrina glanced at the door the secretary disappeared through. Better get back on the other side of the desk before she comes back. She quickly walked around the desk.
The secretary opened the door just as Katrina stopped moving. "Sorry about that. Would you like to reschedule your appointment?"
Katrina sighed. There was nothing to be gained by arguing with the secretary, after all. "Yes. As early as possible next week, Monday if at all possible." Looks like I'll be here another semester…
10:25 pm, Port Albion
Flashpoint moved through the alleyways separting warehouses. She eased up to an open window at Warehouse number 6. Male voices floated to her.
"God damn lazy son of a bitch. Tell me you boys took care of our problem."
"Sorry, Rod, but this well, plant thing rescued him."
"Yeah," another voice chimed in, clearly frightened, "it came out of nowhere, boss, had poisoned thorns and everything."
Plant thing? Flashpoint thought. I wonder what that is… or who.
"Not only do we have to pack up an operation that has been very lucrative for 5 bloody years because my fuck up brother loses a fucking wallet--but now you two fuck up in killing him? Is this what I am hearing?"
Muffled sounds reached Flashpoint, the sounds of bodies hitting the floor. And then the 'boss' spoke again.
"Is this the last shipment? The other is off."
"Yes," a deep voice answered, "Jimbo is just bringing in the last cargo."
"Dump these two in the ocean. What the fuck! Is stupidity contagious? What the fuck is this girl doing here? We have our female quota. Jesus Christ, load her with the others."
Female quota?!? Profitable?!? What the fuck is going on here? Flashpoint pressed herself farther to the ground as a car pulled up. A well-dressed man exited the vehicle. Those inside moved to met him.
"This was unexpected, Rodney, I thought I told you not to call the office. We can't be… What is this?"
By the street light Flashpoint could see a gleam of metal, long and dangerous. Like HELL you are! Flashpoint faded from view, while getting up and moving to make sure she had a clear shot at "Rodney".
Flashpoint felt the heat welling up inside her. With a silent command she only half understood she directed that heat through her palms, forcing it in a way she certainly did not understand to a coherent beam of heat. It struck her target.
The blow lifted him up and dropped him in the water some 20 feet back. The others stood for a few seconds then slowly begain to move. The doctor turned slowly back towards his car. The other two began reaching under jackets, spinning towards where the blast came from.
I hope he can swim. Flashpoint launched herself into the air, shimmering into view as she traded invisibility for protection.
"You can either put down your weapons now, 'gentlemen'," she pronounced the last word with an unmistakable sarcastic twist in her voice, "or join your friend in the water. Your choice."
It was dark when Ivy reached the warehouse district. Rounding a corner, she quickly ducked back. Four men were standing in front of a car. Ivy peeked back around the corner. A beam of intense heat streaked out of the shadows and hit one man solidly, knocking him into the water. The others stood in stunned disbelief.
Ivy thought about it for a second. Well, an enemy of my enemy… She launched a pollen cloud at the group, stepping partially out of cover.
The two thugs stared at the floating appariation in a costume of varing shades of red. Then shouting they split up, one diving behind the car and the other standing his ground. Both drew guns.
OK, they had their chance…
The floating woman turned her hands palm up and a red beam flashed from them. They hit the standing man square on the chest, lifting him up and into a dock post. His jacket smoked as he slid to his knees and then slumped on his face. The woman turned and let loose another bolt but the thug had reached the car and her beam hissed harmlessly into the water.
A cloud of pollen drifted through the air, easily seen in the lamp light as scintillating motes of light. The doctor wrenched open his car door and scrambled inside. The car turned over and coughed. Despartly he continued to pump the car, trying to escape.
Well, Flashpoint thought, if he keeps that up, he'll flood the engine, and it'll be that much easier to catch him.
The last thug, peeked over the car and shot wildly into the night.
April came to herself slowly. There was an awful taste in her mouth. She didn't move as what happened came to her. Someone had gassed her!
Her hands were encircled by cold metal and she was lying in an uncomfortable postion. A warm body was digging an elbow into her back. Male voices came to her.
"Man, he's pissed."
"Wha' you think we's gonna do with the girl?"
"Maybe the boss will let us have her." This voice giggled in a high pitch.
"Naw, more's likely we'll just dump her at sea."
"Dosen't mean we can't have fun," giggles insisted. "She can't be more than 12, maybe 13."
Suddenly there was a loud noise followed by cursing and general panic. It sounded like a gun shot and breaking glass.
Flashpoint thought, I think it's time to put a stop to that. Hope I can keep this up… Flashpoint faded from view again. She flew over to the car the thug was hiding behind. Setting herself down gentle she reached over his shoulder. Her hand closed on his gun. She muttered when she realized that her hand did not close all the way.
Inside, April's head was still throbbing, and she felt a little sick, more so as what was being discussed sank in. Gingerly,trying not to attract attention she tested her bonds.
April could hear them moving around and then the scrape of a door. Faint smells teased her mind. Concentrating, she drew a deep breath and cautiously began to vibrate her hands. Within seconds, sweat soaked her hair and face, and made wet spots on her clothing. But she was free. Forcing back rising nausea, she looked around and very gently placed the manacles down. Sparing a glance down at her hands, she thought, Cool, wonder how I did that? She quietly climbed to her feet.
She seemed to be in the back of a van. The back door was open and April gazed out into a warehouse. Two bodies lay a few feet away. Peering closer she suddenly noticed the hole in one man's head, and a thick red substance oozing from the back of his head and spreading slowly. She could see three other guys peering out windows to the front of the warehouse. They all carried submachine guns.
Pressing a hand to her face,she fought down a wave of bile rising in her throat and pulled back from the opening of the van,horrifed. Oh God… that man's dead and they're gonna kill me too! she thought, panic starting to build in her mind, driving out rational thought.
With a small mental curse, Flashpoint sent a small intense field of heat the size of her hand to the gun. With a yelp, the man droped it, and then moved hastily back from the car as vines crawled over the windshield and through the open window to tangle around the doctor.
The night was ripped by the sound of automatic weapons as the warehouse lit up with small flashes of light. Ivy felt bullets rip through her vines and with a silent command they lay the doctor down as the bullets ripped through the car.
The punk in front of Flashpoint dropped clucthing his shoulder and screaming. The bullets slammed into Flashpoint staggering her back. She looked at her arm in surprise as a thin trail of blood oozed through her costume.
The night grew silent again.
Inside the warehouse, the night echoed with the awful sound. It took a few seconds for April to relize that it was the machine guns. They sound a lot meaner in person, she thought as she huddled in the van, hands over her ears. Her eyes fell on a hankerchief and a pair of large overalls.
"Jesus, Van, what the hell was that?"
"That plant thing Mort was talking about."
"Did we get it?"
"Fuck me, fuck me," giggly voice moaned.
Pulling herself together, Velocity snatched up the purse and fished her staff from it. It was fully collaped to about the size of an aerosol can. Dang, shoulda worn my suit under my clothes, she thought, shuffling into the overalls. Better take the key so they can't get away… It wasn't until she had scrambled into the front seat that something one of the men had said hit her. "Plant thing?"
Flashpoint hissed in pain, and went invisible again. Well, it was bound to happen eventually…
Ivy looked toward the warehouse, a snarl coming to her face. She extended herself into the waters, drawing on them and the sustenance within, mentally speeding her growth process. Ivy began to grow, leaves, branches and new growth sprouting wildly as her growing body shed its human shape, becoming a shambling vaguely humanoid mound of plant life. Only her eyes, blazing emerald, remained visible.
Flashpoint hovered over the entrance of the warehouse and stopped as she caught the sight of a rapidly enlarging plant woman. She could hear panic inside and things being knocked over. Who--or what--is that? It has to be the 'plant thing' they mentioned…
"Hole E. Shit!"
"Get the flame thrower! Plants burn!"
Flashpoint grinned. Nah, I don't think it'd work on them like it did on Fuji. Still, though… She scanned the warehouse, looking for an unobtrusive way in.
"Hey, there's someone in the van!"
Somebody's in there already? Flashpoint thought in surprise. Not one of them? Flashpoint slipped into the warehouse through the half-open door. As she oriented herself, an orange blur caught her eye.
Velocity dashed from the van, becoming a blur of motion as she swept by the three thugs, her staff telescoping into a full length bo. She tried to clout each one with her staff as she past. "Hey don't forget about me, I wanna play too!"
The staff lashed out, striking the first thug across the stomach, lifting him up. The machine gun clattered to the floor. She spun, twirling the staff, and it snaked out, entangling the second's man feet. As she continued to run, her feet a blur, the staff went with her. The man's legs swung out from underneath him and he flew straight up and came down hard. Velocity continued on already out of range of the third man.
He giggled and raised his weapon.
Heat lashed through the warehouse, a solid beam of red light that measured barley a coke can in diameter. Metal melting heat only in the confines of the beam struck the weapon.
With a scream Giggles dropped the weapon, and, dividing his attention between the two metas, scurried outside--directly into the waiting vines of a 10 foot tall shambling mound of dank seaweed in the vague shape of a woman.
Ivy turned from the water at the shout, her vines racing out to rip the doors apart. A man stumbled into them. Ivy wrapped her vines around him.
In the warehouse, two men lay groaning on the floor. The first managed to rise to his knees, spewing out the contents of a spicy supper. The second, lay writhering on his back, still trying to get his breath back, his hand going to his back.
From outside the only thing that could be heard was terrified screams.
Inside, Flashpoint listened as the strangly dressed young woman sped around the downed thugs, scattering guns with her staff.
"Ah Ah… if you can't play nice you can't have your toys back!" April looked in the direction that the beam had come from. "Hey that was cool! How'd you do that?"
"Trade secret," Flashpoint replied, grinning. Besides, she thought to herself, I don't have a clue how I do it myself.
OK, these three seem to be under control… but are there more? Flashpoint thought to herself. She then began moving about the warehouse, trying to spot any other gunmen, preferably before they saw her. In the back of the van she discovered two young boys--about 12, maybe 13, their hands manacled. Both were unconsious. A third set of manacles lay off to one side.
Well, let's get them out of these. Flashpoint knelt near one of the former prisoners, and a look of concentration crossed her face. She very carefully cut the manacles off one, then the other, and then attempted to revive both boys.
Velocity ran between the thugs and the new woman,back and fourth so fast as to appear to be in two places at once.
Flashpoint looked at her blankly.
With that Velocity stopped over one of the goons. "Where's Andrew?"
The man moaned, "Bitch."
"Hey! Dickweed!" A hurt look crossed Velocity's face.
On hearing this, Flashpoint walked over toward the thug. She used her powers to vaporize a small chunk of the warehouse floor near the man's head. "You, sir, are in no position to be using that sort of language. I suggest you reconsider and apologize to her." She emphasized her words by vaporizing another chunk of floor, this time near his crotch.
"So…Sorry," the man gasped, "I don't know any Andrew."
To Velocity, she added, "Why don't you see if you can find something to restrain these two with? Once that's taken care of, I believe it's time to bring the cops in on this."
Velocity nodded, face blurring. She looked around for something to tie up these guys with. A few seconds later both men were firmly tied with all the bits and pieces of material that Velocity could find.
Flashpoint then walked back over toward the boys and resumed her attempts to revive them. She sighed in frustration, then leaned closer to the boys and sniffed. A slight feeling of lightheadedness assulted her as she smelled the sweet, slightly cloying smell. Drugged ! I wonder what they used? Mara could probably tell me, but then, she isn't here. Oh, well, I'll just have to wait until this drug wears off.
Suddenly remembering the man she'd knocked into the water with one of her heat bursts, Flashpoint paled underneath her mask. If he wasn't conscious when he went into the water… She quickly left the warehouse to search the waters near the dock.
A horrific sight greeted her.
Ivy strode purposefully towards the ship, her vines rustling. Her anger grew as she thought back to what that man had revealed to her. Several vines dipped into the bay and her body grew again. Onboard, sailors screamed as the apparition closed in on them. Several fell to their knees, crossing themselves. The deck was soon in a panic as the 12 meter seaweed creature's vines wipped out. Flower pods exploded.
Drawing herself to her full height Ivy swept her gaze over the deck of the ship. She roared,her unearthly voice carrying across the and into the night, "Run, you filthy peices of shit! Before I kill you all!" Thorns thick as railway spikes burst from her body and lashing vines.
Suddenly a familar sound ripped the night as one of the sailors charged up from below, a submachine gun spraying bullets into the air. Behind him, two others lumbered onto the deck a large cylinder between them. One held a slender rod and pointed towards the creature. The second started pumping.
Drawn by all the noise, Velocity headed outside. She headed for the ship at high speed. At the edge of the dock she stopped, looking up at the spectacle. Wow! Like Gamera vs the Swamp Beast!
Why me? Flashpoint thought. I can't search for that man very effectively with someone shooting at me. Besides, if he wasn't conscious, it's probably too late anyway. I have to prevent more deaths, right now. She vanished from sight, flying toward the gunman and the two men with the cylinder.
Flamethrower? Ivy thought, a primal dread rising in her. Fire, pain, death! The thoughts were a chorus of her own and… something else, the Mind of the Green uttering its eternal fear of the Bright Destroyer. Instinctively, she lashed out at the men, trying to smash the one with the rod aside.
A beam of heat lashed out, streaking towards the machine gun. The beam enveloped it. Within a half second, the gun was redhot. The sailor dropped it, screaming, holding his burnt hands up. A second beam lashed towards the pump.
Oh, shit. Real smart, fire a heat beam toward a fuel source… real good way to prevent more deaths, nice going… let's hope I don't heat it up enought to blow… Flashpoint realized her error a split-second too late. She veered off her flight path toward the docks, putting her forcefield up.
Eyes wide, Velocity watched the beam lance toward the gasoline pump. Pushing herelf to max speed she ran along one of the lashing slimy coils of seaweed, leaped onto the ship, and thrust her staff into the path of beam attempting to deflect the beam from the canister!
The heat beam and staff met. There was a flash of heat and the beam deflected. It went directly through the deck of the ship, boring a hole only slightly smaller than the beam.
The force of the strike altered Velocity's trajectory. With an cry, she went right through the open hatch, down the stairway and into the Captain's room.
Ouch! I think I owe her an apology for that one. Flashpoint sighed in relief. God, did I get lucky.
Ivy had no clue where the beam had come from. She had no idea what the blur of motion was. All she knew was that the beam had missed the gasoline-powered flamethrower. Reaching into the bay, she forced her will onto the weeds and murky plants of the bay.
The whole ship rocked as the plants answered her urgings, the ocean fauna seized the ship, shooting tendrils on to the deck, searching, grasping for prey. Ivy was brought back to herself by the heat of the Bright Destroyer.
The two sailors ignored the screaming around them, the horrific sight of fellow sailors being dragged into ink black of the bay by plants come to life. They concentrated on destroying the nightmare in front of them. The one holding the wand, yelled to his bunk mate and then struck the ignition.
With a whoosh, flame shot outward envolping the nightmare sea creature. The two men cheered.
Flashpoint hung in mid air not believing what her eyes reported. The very sea had seemed to rise up against the boat. Her beam had turned. And now the seaweed woman had been engulfed in flame.
"Don't start celebrating just yet, boys! You do need two people to operate that thing, you know." No stupid mistakes this time. Flashpoint carefully drew a bead on the man holding the flamethrower's wand and fired.
"Smooth move, ex lax…" Velocity muttered, getting her feet. "Why me…?" First I get kidnapped, then some loser talks about doin' God-knows-what to me… another superhero shows, and I don't have my real costume and now I look like a goof… Well, no matter, there are still those miscreants to deal with! She loved that word… miscreant.
It was then that she noticed she wasn't alone. A man squatted by a pot-bellied stove. On the large desk was a metal carrying case. It was open and filled with documents. The man, the captain probably, was busy stuffing papers into the stove. Burning the evidence!
Flashpoint's thin beam raced out, catching the pump man across the temple. He staggered backwards, only to be pushed down and trampled by the rest of the crew as they ran onto the deck. One man stood in the doorway screaming.
"Abandon ship! She sinks! Abandon ship!"
Pain… an endless sea of pain flooded Ivy's mind, screamed through her body as her life was seared from it. Burning, she plunged into the bay, the flames sputtering and dying in the water. The light in her eyes flickered and died with the flames… But still there was motion, burnt tendrils coiled and shuddered, casting off ruined sections, oozing lumiscent "blood" for a moment then sealing as new material was aborbed and… changed.
Velocity spun her staff, connecting with the back of the man's head. His knees buckled and an explosive grunt escaped him. He placed a hand to the back of his head. He then turned a scowl on Velocity.
"You little bitch." He lunged across the desk.
Those two boys in the truck… if there are more aboard ship… they'll be trapped! These upstanding citizens certainly won't bother to help them. Well, then… Flashpoint headed for the nearest entrance to the ship's hold.
Velocity grabbed the file container. Barely able to lift it, she backpedaled, made a slight turn and sped up the stairwell--straight into Flashpoint. They both went down in a tangle of arms. Several sheets of paper drifted off into the night.
"Oof!" Flashpoint landed on the stairs and slid down a few. The bruises will not be pleasant, she thought to herself. "Ya know, we've got to coordinate better, or this'll get really painful," she said aloud, with a rueful grin on her face. "Say, what's in the case?"
"Well, the ship's going down, apparently--I'm headed for the hold, to see if there are any more prisoners, and get them out, if there are." She untangled herself from the younger hero. Why do I feel like I've just played a game of Twister--and lost? Standing up, she continued down the stairs.
Meanwhile, a single green-skinned arm burst from the mass of charred and dampened plant life. A thin vine lashed from it about the deck railing, and levered Ivy onto the deck, her body returned to its slender, more human form. Her foliage "clothing" hadn't totally grown back, leaving her damp emerald form mostly bare. She didn't care. Looking across the deck, she sought targets. "You killed me… my turn now…"
Ivy grabbed the nearest fleeing man. "You have exactly 10 seconds to take me to the children."
The man screamed and attempted to escape. "Please. I have family. The kids are in the hold, but the ship is sinking."
Ivy snarled, "They have families too… take me to them." Following the leashed man she went to the cargo hold, mentally urging the sea plants to weave themselves under hull of the ship and the dock to slow its descent.
Flashpoint and Velocity entered the hold. It was stacked with crates, six rows of three deep. Each crate was 1 meter in length and labeled "Machine parts - handle with care."
As the two looked at each other, the boat lurched and then steadied. Taking the last step, Flashpoint stepped in water. There was a noise behind them and a sailor tumbled down the stairs, his arms and throat covered in vines. The vines reached up the stairs and were connected to a woman.
The woman had green skin, smooth and still wet from the sea. Her face was pretty if unearthly and severe in her anger. Her eyes glowed emerald, sweeping over the room slowly and settling on the two others. She stood a little over 6 feet tall, well proportioned, sleekly muscular. Flowers were woven into her hair and some vines and leaves grew about her body. They seemed damaged, leaving her mostly naked. Her gaze swept past the two to the crates.
"The top crates are machine parts." The man's voice shook with fear and the vines were the only thing holding him up. His uniform was soaked in several places, attesting to his fear, and weak stomach. "The kids are in the ones underneath."
"Cool!" Velocity exclaimed. "She looks like Swamp Thing!" After a moment's thought, she used her staff as a lever of sorts, wedging it under the machine crates and using her body weight to heave them over. Dad said it couldn't break…
Dropping the man to the deckplates, Ivy spoke, her voice had an echoing, hollow quality to it. "We have to hurry… I don't know how long we can support the boat." She raised an eyebrow at the Swamp Thing comment but started to shove the top most crates aside.
"Which ones have the kids? And how far down are they?" Flashpoint demanded. Noting the man's fear, she added, "Cooperate, and you won't be harmed." She gave Ivy a rather pointed look. Looking around the hold, she thought to herself, Man, I hope we get some help in here soon, or…
Outside, police cars and harbor rescue boats swarmed around the ship. Several minutes late the help that Flashponit hoped for was in full swing. Between the young girl's staff and the plant lady's strength, the top crates were tossed to the ground. Each crate opened thereafter contained a young boy, asleep, their hands and ankles mancled, a chain linking them.
Police officers and rescue workers formed a chain, handing the children out. Slowly the water level continued to rise. Ivy could feel her strength leaching out of her as the moments dragged on, her control of the plant life slipping. But with each child passed up by Flashpoint, her heart grew colder. Her Andrew was not among them.
As the young girl and Ivy levered the last crate open, the water spilled into the crate. The boy was white, blonde hair. Flashpoint lifted him out and handed him to the officer and then hefted the metal safe, with its valuable information.
Ivy looked around. Her son was not here. Andrew was not here.
Flashpoint straightened with a sigh of relief, carrying the small, but heavy, safe in her right hand. She was about to leave the hold when she noticed Ivy's expression.
Ivy moved to the strong box and quickly went through it. San Tuaga. She walked over to one of the Harbor Police. "There is another boat… San Tuaga."
"Then what are waiting for?" Velocity called speeding to one of the boats. "We gotta rescue them."
A few minutes later, Flashpoint was in the air, a flare in her waist band. Velocity and Ivy were in a boat speeding to open sea. Ivy stood in the fore, urging the boat faster, every second taking her son futher from her.
Down here the sea was calm. The schools of fish swam wide of the being that rested on the sand ocean floor. At first glance one might have believed that a whale sat there. But no whale would ever sit so still for so long. That was if one could have clearly made out what it was, instead of mistaking it for another rock outcroping.
The being was listening, but not with ears, with its whole body. Sorting out sounds from the world above that echoed through the water. There!
With little effort the being rose and glided up through water. The sea life reacted as they always did to any distrubance in their enviroment. The head broke the surface only blow hole and eyes visable as it searched the ocean surface.
A vessel cut through the waves. It was an old cargo boat much used, its lights shining only perodically. Enough that the name became clear for a brief second. 'San Tuaga'. They were trying to be stealthly, to hit open sea with no one being the wiser.
The being knew a small dose of ironic humor. They worried about the surface and never gave a thought that they were screaming their positon to ocean underneath. He had been watching this particular boat for sometime. He sank and paced it with ease.
He had pondered what he was going to do. What he could do. After so many nights and days without success, risking discovery by approaching the docks of New London. Until he had heard one of the voice's from that night, on this boat.
The being that was once Jack Scully, marine biologist, knew that this ship transported people to far away lands to be sold and owned. He could sink the ship, but what about the people aboard?
I want to leave the hull intact. Best chance for everyone to survive that way, he thought. Let's look around for a sandbar… and then do something to slow them down. He knew where there was a shallow area, and gauged the distance to it. Slowly he floated aft of the ship and looked at the rudder and propellers. He knew care would be needed to get close enough to smack the rudder and avoid the props. He hoped he was strong enough to do it. They can't move what they can't steer, and it'll make it easier for me to ground 'em. So here goes! His massive muscles flexed, his legs kicked and he moved forward with great speed. The turmoil in the prop wash was confusing but he continued; even if he got hurt, the poor souls on board needed help. He twisted to the left, moving his right fin along and smashing the rudder. Solid connection. He felt the ship lurch in the water. Shouting from above the water filtered through.
He surfaced and gave a cry as he broke the surface, and floated near the ship. He tried to hear what was being said and hoped that they believed they struck a whale. They opened fire.
Flashpoint skimmed the water. She heard a strange cry and the now familar sound of a submachine gun. Then silence. She scanned the area. That was when she saw it.
The great shape launced itself outof the water and over the ship. Water splashed the crew men, and a piercing scream shattered the glass around the conn tower. Men screamed.
Kraken broke the water on the other side. Powerful muscles propelled him under the surface. He turned and brushed his great length along the underside. The boat turned.
Flashpoint watched in amazement as the ship heeled, turned left sharply, wallowed as light sprang into being from many flashlights, sweeping the water. Big black letters lept into view. San Tuaga.
Found it! Flashpoint crowed to herself. She reached into her costume for the signal flare she'd gotten from the Harbor Patrol, pointed it into the air, and ignited it.
Now, how to stop the ship… of course. Flashpoint vanished, heading toward the conn tower and the bridge.
The flare lit up the sky. Ivy saw it but the boat was already leaping in that direction.
Kraken swam deep and wriggled in delight. I love it when a plan comes together! he thought. Now, what next, bright boy? He swam back up beneath the ship, watching the lights on the water. Damn! I need to know if they are calling the Coast Guard. I don't want to shake 'em up more than I need to. The great shape moved off from the ship, diving slightly, in case anyone decided to take a shot; he surfaced a short distance away, looking back at the ship, straining to listen to anything going on there.
A flying woman leaving a trail of fire in the sky streaked towards the boat. She hovered above the conn tower.
"It's over, give up now," she shouted.
A few sailors made to raise their weapons. Beams of light shot from the woman's hands. Then Kraken felt the deep thrum signature of a coast guard cutter. As the powerful beams hit the ship, Kraken made to turn away. That was when he saw the small life boat, the man standing in it attaching something to the boat.
Flashpoint felt releif flood through her as the beam pinned the boat. One by one the sailors raised hands in surrender.
The boat containing Ivy and Velocity pulled along side, close enough for Ivy to gain access with a vine.
Velocity dashed up the vine Ivy sent across, Ivy blinked and then regrew into the ship and grabbed the nearest the sailor.
Her voice was intense and harsh. "The children… were are they? " She could scarcely contain her rage and axiety. She was tired. She would find Andrew.
Velocity had similar ideas but a more direct approach. She took off looking both for Andrew and miscreants looking to escape justice. They would feel the just wrath of Velocity! It had been a long trip and she was frustrated and full of pentup energy. "Great work umm what's your code name?"
Flashpoint suppressed a smile. There are times when I wish I had that much energy… like tomorrow, when I have to try to finish that paper without one of the major sources. Aloud, she replied, "Flashpoint. Yours?"
Kraken swam over to the boat the man was in, rose up beside it and wrapped a flipper around him. The massive, wet limb went around the man's torso from his chest to below his knees. As the man turned his head to look at what had him, he was lifted from the boat and held, tightly. The massive sea creature's other flipper took the little boat and tossed it aside, as if it were nothing. The creature dipped his feet into the cold sea and then held him back up close to the thing he was attaching to the ship, very close to it. A low moan emanated from the creature, and it opened it's mouth wide as it floated just beneath him.
Velocity heard a strange sound as the coast guard boarded the boat. Looking over the side she was in time to see the lifeboat sink. The large marine creature was dark in color and seemed to have hand-like fins. Suddenly it grabbed something off the boat and tossed. Velocity was temporarily blinded by the explosion.
The explosion sent ripples through the air, slamming into the ship and rocking it. Ivy grabbed the rail and glanced at the young coast guard crewman beside her.
"Bomb," he hazarded a guess.
But Ivy wasn't listening, they had found the children. The setup was exactly like the one on the other ship. Urgently she began moving the crates. The young man behind called up upon seeing the first chained and naked child. Soon the hold was filled with hands, helping. Near the bottom, Ivy found what she was looking for.
Andrew was unconious, his breathing shallow but he was alive and back in her arms.
Outside the hold
The massive sea creature dropped the soaked man onto the deck, it tapped him with its flipper and then pointed up to where the bomb had exploded. It made a strange cry as it slipped back down into the dark sea. Kraken swam slowly around the ship, surfacing near the Coast Guard cutter and on the other side of the San Tuaga. It pushed the capsized lifeboat back to the ship and lifted it onboard.
Flashpoint blinked a few more times to clear her sight. Whoever he is, it's a good thing he showed up. Otherwise, we'd have one sunken cutter and probably several dead sailors.
She noticed that the Coast Guard officers had begun to enter the bridge. Looks like they've got things under control here. She headed for the hold to help with the former captives.
Back at the docks, ambulances and police cruisers and wagons bathed the docks in red. Paramedics and rescue workers moved among the children, blankets were given out and vitals taken. The press was kept to a safe distance, camera's flashing and reporters talking into TV cameras.
Flashpoint wondered why she always ended up giving a report to the police and wondered if she should include the strange sea creature. That might cause some panic.
Ivy gently feed her son certain fluids she secreted, agents to couteract the toxin adminstered him. In a strage instinct she did so through her breast, smiling and rocking her child, holding him close. Ivy sat with her son, humming softly. He stirred. "Mom?" His eyes opened and met hers, "Mom?"
"Yes… I'm here Andrew… I'll always be here," she whispered to him, leaning down to plant a kiss on his forehead.
Velocity zipped back in forth avoiding the police, the reporters; she wasn't in costume. She watched with wide eyes as the strange plant woman suckled Andrew at her breast, tucked a blanket around him and then reached a vine into the water. A few seconds later she seemed to shrivel into herself. Then she was gone.
Velocity felt relief that Andrew was okay and realized that she had better get home. She ran all the way. "Great… how late is it…? Mom's gonna have a cow…" Velocity, the fastest girl alive, vanished into the night at 700 mph…
After seeing that the situation was well under control, Flashpoint flew up into the air and disappeared, heading back for her dorm room. With any luck, she'd already collected enough information for that paper…
Outside of the media and police line, Rod watched all his plans and business go down. Five years. Five years of profit and some costumed weirdos blow the whole thing. He hissed and clutched at the burn on his chest. It was a damn good thing he always wore a bullet proof vest.
Well he had waited before. He had money and time. Time to find out about these freaks and make them pay…
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