I’ll admit to being tactically unsound on a good day. However I knew the following; heroes historically never did what I wanted, Show Stopper seemed intent upon being unreasonable, and the only way I knew to get to Alice would be a portal to Wonderland. I didn’t have drugs in my system. Those heroes probably didn’t have any either. Naturally, the joker card only swapped one mess for another.
So be it. I leapt out of a sky carrier into an expanse filled with nothing but air. Down below lay a shoreline that almost looked familiar. Our quickly moving ship must have reached another continent. The ground approached rapidly so I fully expected to land awkwardly some point.
Air rushed by making my cheeks flap while batting both ears. Like a seasoned professional, I screamed loudly. The roar of an engine up above competed with my yell - which was pure rage and certainly not from freaking out. I spun unevenly trying to right myself. Sweat soaked clothes do not a glider make.
Show Stopper and the other two kids leapt out after me. She snapped fingers on both hands. Her bowtie fucking glowed as an aura enveloped her body. The woman started flying faster after me. I watched all this while spinning and realized that maybe, just maybe, putting on at least the bowtie would have helped. Flux had copied it for a reason.
Though the red lace panties were clearly not magical. I mean, not enchanted garments - nevermind. I mean, Show Stopper did keep herself in shape. The fishnets were eye catching. Her hair was pristine even as well fell from grace. Well, you probably understand what I’m driving at here.
The ship up above flew on. The gaping hole in it’s side grew smaller for reasons unknown. I fumbled in my pocket for the bowtie - missed - and pulled out red lace. It fluttered in the wind as we continued down. Show Stopper got to close and I let fabric go. Luck coupled with wind then carried them right into her face. She flailed to get the fabric off. Stopped Showgirl spun end over end while the overly excited Boy Wonder fired blasts in my direction.
Show Stopper righted herself. She grabbed the garment and her face rapidly shifted shades to match the material. Both my shoulders lifted in an unapologetic shrug.
“For my next trick!” I shouted then pulled out the bowtie. It was clip on. I put it into place over my torn shirt and snapped my fingers like Show Stopper had done.
The bowtie kicked kicked in. My downward motion smoothed out. The copied magic item worked wonders. I also vowed not to mention the panties. Alice wouldn’t understand. I sent a sarcastic prayer of thanks to Flux or god or whatever for making this device work on thought rather than some joystick.
Frequent glances over my shoulder gave me a picture of an angry family. I managed to keep just ahead of the trio chasing me. At this rate, they’d capture me.
I briefly realized the picture had probably been right. Flux probably was smarter than I. The deck of cards in my pocket fluttered violently. A joker pulled itself from the rest and flew backwards creating a huge net that burned with fire.
Two for two on the lucky front. Or three - forget it. There’s no keeping score. I’ve stopped counting screw ups as bad luck issues. I flew on, ignoring the screams of outrage. They were sort of seasoned professionals chasing after a walking disaster that had a government sanctioned warning label.
Okay. I felt guilty. Shut up. It wasn’t bad enough to make me stop.
I soared toward land. This bowtie should last as long as the earpiece had - which would be until some new object got copied. Hopefully that’s how this worked. The manual’s gibberish wasn’t really helpful. I yanked out another card, hoping for something more useful. Like an all weather jacket for the ballsack shrinking level of windchill.
The next card summoned an umbrella with a giant black and white smiley face on top of it. I shoved the useless rain blocker under an arm then brought out another card. That joker summoned me a towel.
Boy Wonder flew next to me, he was yelling over the wind and I couldn’t hear him. I held out and arm and let loose the towel. It flopped into his face and the teen went spinning end over end. So, towels are useful when fleeing from super powered crazies toward another super powered lunatic to rescue your insane girlfriend - that’s Show Stopper, TeleGraph, and Alice respectively.
I paused then swung around. Shower Stopper - with burned hair and an angry glare hung a hundred feet behind me. Her head shook slowly as both teens came up on either side. I looked around like this mess was someone else's fault, flipped over another card and got a pair of fuzzy slippers. They went on my feet and fresh warmth shot up my legs, chasing away the chill. Magic is wonderful. Shower Stopped pointed a hand at me and the two children went in either direction.
“Surrender before the might of Purple Prose!” a voice cut across the air. Show Stopper put up a fist and the teen hero squad halted. Lightning rippled all around. Between me and the ground another ship faded into view. Wicked looking purple energy raced up and down the ship’s side. If Shower Stopper’s vessel was a carrier, this new violet hued enemy was like a magical flying submarine.
“Get them VVV!” the man on the loudspeaker stuttered. A floating person in wicked purple and black armor - like some sort of middle age plague doctor gone extra goth and robotic - flew out of the vessel. Four more short copies flew out behind him.
So, yeah - this nonsense was happening. Superhero battle. Again. Show Stopper shouted words lost in the wind. The children pulled back. Villains in their ugly metal costumes raced past me.
I’d never actually been flying on my own before during one. I think this fight would mark one of the first occurrences where I might not simply get sucker punched and have my toys taken away. I’d had lots of practice watching other people fight. I’d had world altering weapons once or twice, but that never lasted. Flux appeared to be bound to me and could even the tables repeatedly. As long as I remained conscious I could simply ask him to copy every awesome toy my heart desired. Maybe he could make me two God’s Fists.
“A hahaha!” The mad laughter erupted and sounded no where near as cool from me.
A huge blast of energy propelled overhead. My hair rippled on one side and excess heat singed the fur on my new slippers. I inspected the shoe while everyone else went into chaotic and complicated spins. The large flying carrier came out of a cloud bank and opened fire on the purple vessel. A series of rockets wove through the air leaving smoke trails and blowing my hair in the other direction.
Someone shoved me sideways. I forgot this wasn’t a fight to simply watch. With Show Stoppers flight enabling bowtie and the deck of random devices, I too could be useful - if only there were clear directions on who to fight. The army of little angry people wearing suits charged forth. Boy Wonder zipped around blasting them. Rocks - from who knows where - appeared in clusters to slam into people.
Show Stopper stared in my direction. She shouted words I couldn’t hear, pointed to me then behind me. I turned around to see the purple scarier vessel charging up a large cannon on its bow. The end was huge and looked to be aimed in my direction. I took the umbrella from under my arm then with an absent minded amount of calmness, popped it open.
The huge canopy opened up as the cannon’s blast fired. My feet drew up as the illusion of protection fended off income doom. Purple light slammed into the umbrella, pushing me backward. A loud hum of too much energy filled the air around me. I willed myself to stop being pushed back and it felt like my feet were catching on cement or some other material. The bowtie grew heated.
Purple light never pierced through. I didn’t even feel warm. This umbrella of Show Stopper’s was awesome. I twisted it then set it over a shoulder to show off. Show Stopper’s voice carried through the air.
“No you idiot!” she said.
I turned and raised an eyebrow at the mother of two. Her face whitened then she frantically pointed at the purple ship. Three of the tiny armored suits piled into her as I tried to figure out what the gesturing meant.
Then the umbrella jerked and inverted the black and white colors. Its former smiling face turned to an angry scowl. Purple energy crackled off the end going straight up into the sky. I freaked out and leveled the umbrella back in the purple ship’s direction. The blast grew stronger as light shot out in an attack. Rockets sailed by at the same time. Air rippled from explosions.
“Cease and desist this futile resistance!” the intercom wielding voice shouted.
I couldn’t see passed the shield but it sounded bad. I prayed there was no village on the other side taking damage from this umbrella death ray being unleashed. Then my body chilled and hands locked. This action, was me causing the same harm to others. After all my complaints for being caught in villain crossfires, me unleashing a death ray above civilization couldn’t be anything but hypocritical. People could be dying.
I let go of the umbrella, too late to be of any use. It started turning to sand before my fingers let go completely. A clear picture appeared as my reflective weapon vanished. Purple Prose nightmare aerial ship had lost two large cannons. The ship tilted downward but still managed to keep afloat. Huge chunks of the vessel were falling.
A voice cut through the air again. “How dare you! How dare you assault the sovereign vessel of Lord Purple!”
Engine failure could be heard in the background. More creatures flew out of the ship. I turned around quickly to see what had happened to the other team. The hero’s boat still hovered but looked like shit. Small men in armor were glomming onto it’s side and blowing up as I watched. Each one tore our chunks of the vessel, but it also repaired slowly.
And, of course, Flux was flying around getting footage. That little camera seriously had a few screws loose. Show Stopper flew in closer. I sailed away because she wore mean face like a selfie enhancing makeup. The other kids kept were fighting with lasers and clumps of appearing dirt.
The gas clouds coming from VVV gave me an idea. I turned myself and swam straight in front of the heavily armored figure. The burly man in his medieval goth gone techno outfit didn’t notice. He leveled a mean looking gun while tanks on his back whirled a concoction together. Foul green steam billowed out the back and a jet spray lash out toward the flying teen with her rocks. I caught it instead.
I took in a lungfull of foulness and started coughing violently. The bowtie sent me fluttering around. A dozen cards when everywhere, adding to the chaos. And oh my god, the shit I saw in those first few seconds was worth of an oscar.
An elephant, potted plant, and giant whale all appeared then started falling. A few small fry enemies were caught under the walls mass. That might not have happened. The bunny rabbit hopping through the sky bopping heroes and villains alike could have been in my head. Clouds formed into an alluring and curvaceous naked woman which crooked a finger in our direction. Three small guys from the Purple Prose ship flew straight for it then were eaten by a surprisingly tangible bundle of condensation.
My jaw slowly worked to get words out. I clutched at the few cards then counted them over and over. The haze of whatever VVV had sprayed left me unable to connect numbers together passed ‘woah’.
“Woah,” I said, happy with the word’s sound. “Woah. Woah. Woah.”
“What? Laughing Gas? That’s not the right concoction!” Very Violent Violet said. Or whatever the Vs stood for. I couldn’t tell who was under all that voice modulation and bulky armor. Even the gender was a guess based on broad shoulders.
I laughed - sanely I swear. Reeling in my mirth took a few moments. The man didn’t care about me and patted a hand all over his armor like a person who’d lost their keys. He checked his nosal while I - operating under the influence as any seasoned professional would - pulled out one of the remaining cards then shoved it into the weapon's’ tip as he lowered it back down.
Then I lost myself doubling up in gut-clenching amusement. A dozen other nonsense nicknames cruised through my mind - and what any of them were I couldn’t tell you. The bulky armor wearing man righted himself, charged up the weapon then fired a second cloud of smoke at me. It split around the card, which turned into a flock of purple canaries that promptly attacked him - because that makes sense.
He flailed around trying to bat at the birds. Other people battled around us. The purple ship turned slowly in the background. Missiles flew through the air while heroes yelled through their comm or just at themselves. Someone had a flying disc platform out that they rode along. I didn’t know which side it belonged to.
I flew a few feet to Violent Vaping Vegan’s face, grabbed him by the shoulders and laughed even harder - like we sharing a joke. His armored head turned toward me as the flock of birds started popping into confetti. My mind couldn’t conceive of anything sane anymore. One of those little exploding mini guy guys flew by and I snagged him out of the air for a group hug. He didn’t like it. Victoctriously Vile Vigina or whatever looked terrified. Or at least his head pulled back then scanned my body up and down. Maybe he was sizing me up for a date. Maybe he was a she.
If you’re not getting the picture, I’d lost my mind. The laughing gas wasn’t actual laughing gas like nitrous oxide or whatever. This was yet another ‘super clever villain’ invention.
The little guy abruptly glowed brightly. I pushed the two of them away and flew toward the purple ship. The air behind me rippled and I kept right on shouting my amusement. Blue Blunder - sorry I’m too in the moment - Boy Wonder zipped up next to me. His clothing had tears on it and pieces were missing.
“Mister Millard! You have to come with us, you can't stay where they’ll get you! We’ve got to get out of here!”
“Hey kid,” I smiled widely. Whatever that man had hit me with made everything downright hysterical. Like, literally, not figuratively. Boy Wonder’s name was far from the least amusing part. His nose was just, huge. I mean like it took up most of his face and I’d never noticed before.
“This way! There’s a dead spot over here!” he tugged at me. I smiled and poked his nose.
“You look, just like Devilish Dare. Anyone tell you that? You have Lucas’s big honker. Are you related? You gotta be,” I started babbling. They did have the same nose. A big old honker that hooked right after the bridge.
“What? Mister Millard, I’ve read your file! Mo-Show Stopper may have been wrong in how she held you, but we need to keep moving! There’s a dozen more villains headed this way and it’s only going to get worse.”
“Worse?” I tore my hand out of his grasp and threw them into the air. Two more little exploders detonated and the air rippled with concussive force. “My life is always worse! I thought it was getting better, I did. Like, I have a job, a girlfriend, a stalker robot. But then I don’t have a girlfriend. Because she’s in a bubble. The job’s really just secondary to. I don’t know. It was all a plan to lure in Golden Sun because TeddyGraphy is bitter.”
Boy Wonder didn’t hear an ounce of what I said. He struggled to remain upright in the air. Fish and I both knew better. You don’t fight against explosions - you ride them out. Like a wave on the ocean. Or, explosion in the air.
“What?” The poor boy's ears must be ringing.
I widened my eyes and pointed toward the other ship. There were holes in it and three small fighter planes zipping about shooting purple lasers.
“You should really go,” I said while nodding. “It’s not safe out here at all. I mean unless you like dying.”
A canarie, probably the last one, landed in my upturned hand hand. It chirped once then exploded into more sparkles.
“Awww,” I said. “I was going to name his Twitter Face. Alas poor Twitter Face!” My hand turned over and let the sparkles fade away. These joker cards were a random mishmash of nonsense. It worked well enough with my frame of mind.
Boy Wonder’s eyes were wide. The star struck tone from a month or two had vanished. Maybe he’d grown up a lot recently. Maybe he was taking this more seriously.
“What is wrong with you?” he demanded.
My scalp pull back and I waved both hands in the air again then shouted, “A lot!” to the world. That was also funny as shit apparently so I started chuckling more. My voice felt raw.
“But you’re the crazy one trying to rescue me. Your dad would never have rescued me,” I lost the thought and blinked for a long time as people kept screaming. Once my eyes opened Boy Wonder was fighting off some exploder in armor. I flew over, pulled out a card then stuck it on the small bundle of dynamite's back. Its body glowed briefly then shrunk to an inch high. Convenient.
Boy Wonder looked even worse for wear. I plucked his enemy away.
“Ta dah!” I exclaimed then flattened the tiny creature with a clap. It exploded into powder that got straight up my nose. My amusement halted. Coughing ensued. Oh god - at that moment I wanted water and a tissue. The lingering scent of those laughing gas clouds hung in my nose. The flavor of disgusting cinnamon without sugar fouled everything.
Show Stopper flew a few feet away. Her face had blood running down it in a river, staining the white shirt. Boy Wonder propper her up with one arm and held his uncious sister under the other. My head shook. Their fight must be going poorly. I looked around, the normal looking flying carrier was losing to Purple Posers whatever vessel despite the damage I’d done. There were a bunch of angry looking birds dive bombing exploding minions. This place was getting worse and there were signs of military fighter planes closing in.
I thumbed over my shoulder toward the big ship and made an offer.
“I’ll get rid of those idiots. You all leave me the fuck alone to find my Alice. Whichever one that is. Both, I guess.” The repeated druggings faded quick. I’d almost called her my girlfriend, but we’d only hung out for a few hours in reality. “And hey, I’ll even try to stop TeleGraph. Deal?”
Show Stopper blinked slowly. I did the same but almost passed out. Using other people’s powers might have been impacting me more than anything else. There was still no ground under me. A normal person would have freaked out but I couldn’t really die. So, what the hell would I care?
However, the list of names didn’t need to grow any longer. Devilish Dare would kill me if his son died here. Show Stopper didn’t look familiar, but Devilish Dare had slept with a lot of ladies on both sides of the cape and cowl game. He had a square jawline and muscled body that was essentially a super power on it’s own.
“You go that way, I go that way! Deal?” I shouted again while pointing to both ships.
Show Stopper nodded. She spoke quietly to Boy Wonder. They flew off amid a mess of destruction. At least they were a decisive lot. I turned then proceeded with both the dumbest and greatest I’d had all day.
It ignored me. Flux at the time was too busy running around getting panty shots from all the armor suited small guys. Or maybe he got distracted easily.
“Flux!” I kept yelling while weaving through the air. People dove at me while I worked to avoid them. Years of practice at running away actually made me pretty good. “Flux! Copy the ship! Copy that ship right above the other one!”
Flux bobbed insanely. To this day I swear that the floating camera was laughing his mechnical balls off. He flew up and spun around rapidly. Lights went mad. Flux’s face glowered intensely bringing attention to him for the first time in ever. I tackled one of the small exploders that approached my precious voyeuristic copying machine. We went flying to the side. It clawed and my responding laughs were ineffective.
Those gibberish rules in Flux’s manual probably said there was a limit on items. History implied that creating new objects turned an old one to dust. Flux might not even be able to make an entire ship either. He was sure trying. A second engine finished copying into being, it didn’t connect right with the rest of the ship that Flux was duplicating. The first Purple Prose turned to steer away but jerked to a halt as the copied engine collided.
Sure enough, my body dropped as the bowtie partially flaked away. The glow of flying powers sputtered. Both eyes closed as a prayed passed my lips. Hopefully the cards of random shit were still functional.
I searched for a place to land. The little guys were flying after the fleeing trio. I intercepted one and wrestled the shorter mindless drone into another direction. It chittered. I laughed madly. We flew toward Very Visible Vehicle. I leapt to the new perch and latched in worry as my bowtie turned to dust.
The man in armor wasn’t ready. No one expected an aggressive Adam. I must have been like a suddenly violent homeless man foaming at the mouth.
The smaller guy sailed passed us then exploded. One purple ship kept forming as a result of Flux’s hard work. That red camera eye gleamed manically. My unwilling rid spun in a circle to shake me off. We flew off while I worked to plead my case.
VV-Whatever didn’t simply let me ramble. He shook back and forth wildly. I locked my arms around an arm. Sharp bits dug into exposed flesh. My eyes fluttered as more pain caught up. The armor bucked as a bronco might, if one could fly and wore painful armor.
“Listen, Very Violent Victor.” I struggled to get a lungful of air as we did another flip. Exhaustion and the flip flop of gravity made my eyes roll. Both hands clenched tight. “Listen, Virulently Vapid Virgo. Or is it Viciously Valueless Virgin? God names are very confusing. Hey, I need a name!”
“Get off me you freak!” the mechanical voice shouted.
I hung on while twisting. His armor was damaged. The engine flew unevenly and couldn’t turn right. As we spun around the second dose of Purple Prose finished copying. It immediately started falling. The first ship crunched under an unexpected kamikaze attack.
“No! One can not wield the might of Purple Prose against itself!” the man on the intercom yelled.
My arm slipped. Fingers grabbed the edge of his weapon. The armored bad guy looked at me. I looked for Flux, maybe he could fly me away. Flux was gone, probably recording insanity. Show Stopper and her brood were nowhere to be seen. There were no other ways out.
“Hit me again!” I shook the man in armor. “Hit me with that drug cloud!”
We flopped around some more while I struggled to reach for a card. My arms were clenched around the gun. Getting to my pocket was a struggle. Two cards slipped out. One turned to dust, the other became a snarling seal that snapped at us while it fell toward the ground.
“Not until you hit me again!” I shouted.
Another card slipped out. That one turned to dust too. I cursed to myself. Flux’s powers were insane but not without limitations. Copy a huge ship must have taken too many items. shook myself while struggling to get a grip. VVV’s giant gas spewing rifle fired up.
“How are you still on me? Why isn’t the poison affecting you? How!”
“Dumb-” VVV shook me and I bit my tongue. “-luck” came the garbled second half.
Gas spewed out as we spun backwards in a circle. Orange and green smog filled the air. My mind started seeing colors that didn’t exist. More cards fell but what turn turned into didn’t register. VVV laughed with a high pitched tone.
Two cards left. I managed to set one loose toward the ground below me in hopes that fate would work in my favor. A huge pool appeared between here and terrafirma. The spot swirled in a kaleidoscope of colors. My body slackened. There it was - the portal I needed to find Alice, or The Alice. Ground twisted in a circle that went all the way down to another land.
My arms were wrapped around the suit of armor’s neck and feet kicked to find purchase. My slippers kicked off into the swirl below. We weren’t close enough for the jump to work without some extra distance. I looked down, back up, all around and tried to gauge how things would come together.
Then I saw VVV’s face. The armor had shattered. A woman with cropped hair and a blooded face remained. She managed to look horrified as her eyes went wide. “Adam?” the woman asked. Her voice must have been in the missing helmet. I barely cared that he turned out to be a she. It didn’t matter.
I looked back down at the exit again and debated the speed and arc of my descent while trying to use high school math - that’s how drugged I’d become. It was too far away and my bowtie was gone. Flux couldn’t copy a new one. The ruins of a giant purple ship fell slowly from the sky. Chunks of body broken vessels were all around.
“Is that really you Adam?” VVV asked. I looked up then wrinkled my eyebrows. The VVV name finally clicked.
“Oh shit. Hey. Vivian. Fancy meeting you here.” I said while desperately trying not to sway. The world kept tilting to the side and resetting itself. My ears were probably fucked beyond reasoning and would take a day or two to heal.
“Unholy balls. I’d heard the rumors but really. Is it really you?” she asked. VVV turned out to be a girl I knew very well. Flux zoomed in then took a nice picture of us staring at each other with growing confusion.
“Hey. Yeah. Uh, you got away from the aliens then?” Then my mind reset a few times as repeated druggings spun the world around. “That armor will never do your ass justice,” I said finally. The she stayed there, flying with a sputtering engine while I lost my grip entirely and fell.
“Hey, fuck you, Adam! This shit is your fault!” her words chased after me as I fell.
Gravity pulled me down into the swirling madness. I turned midair and stared at Vivian Valentine Vance’s face. Poor girl, we’d dated in highschool before everything went to hell. She’d had an ass that dreams were made of. Her being a villain was probably my fault. Or maybe I was drugged out of my mind and imagining a reunion with a piece of a happier past. It wouldn’t be the first time I saw something that didn’t happen.
I fell backward into the next mess, hoping this escape would be kinder than the last - or at least that I’d get some sleep.
Vivian Valentine Vance
20 Earth Standard Years
Generalized Ratings as follows
5 [Genetically Enhanced Hulk]
6 [Genetically Enhanced] - Focused on Otherworld Tech
1 [Well Below Average]
Irate, Destructive, Grumpy
Other items of note
Abducted by aliens. Ended up in another world. Got implanted by the master race. Joined rebellion, took over world. Got kicked out. Was conscripted on another planet as a doctor. Failed miserably but learned a lot and stole technology. Curses at the drop of a hat.
Her top teeth were replaced when she turned twenty. The new ones can bite through steel.
She has concocted fifty types of gases. One cures cancer. Another will induce orgasms. She’s used the cure cancer one twice in her life, once again space aliens bounty hunters. Half of them were killed outright. Vivian is immune to most poisons and doesn’t require her suit.
However without it, her body grows until it’s almost twice the size of her normal form. She detests being so large despite the fact that her lover finds it intensely arousing. It is theorized that, like many powered people, she would have never had a catalytic event if not for Adam Millard.