A Whateley Academy Story
Imp 7: Imp-ervious to Reason
Whateley, Friday morning, Nov 16th 2007
“I have returned,” I loudly announced to my first period class. “All hail the conquering teacher…”
“Were you gone?” Monkeywrench asked with a smirk. “I hadn’t noticed.
“But what if I don’t want hail?” Melissa asked with a look of mock innocence. “What if I wanted snow instead? Or sun?”
I looked at the little smartass as she sat in her seat, feeling rather proud of her. “You’ll get hail and like it,” I responded.
“Where were you?” Monkeywrench asked me curiously.
“Emergency parent teacher conferences,” I answered in a cheerful tone. Then I looked back to Melissa and said, “Oh, your aunt said to tell you hi.”
“What?” Melissa asked in surprise.
“And the next time you see her,” I continued with an evil grin, “make sure you tease her about her snoring.” Melissa giggled at that.
“Now then,” I said, looking around the classroom. “Today, we’re going to do something a little different.” I went to my desk and picked up the plate full of brownies that was sitting there. “Today, you’ll be able to earn brownie points by participating in the class discussion.” Now I really had everyone’s attention.
With that, I got the ball rolling and started on the topic of different types of art, and what kind they were most drawn too. Asking kids to give their opinions was a quick way to get them engaged, but to have them explain WHY they held those opinions, made them think about it a little more.
“Well,” I told one girl. “Interior design isn’t really my thing, but I can see definitely see the art in making a creative and visually appealing space.” I handed her a brownie, then turned to the next student with a raised hand. “Go ahead…”
“I really like customizing cars,” he said with a grin. “I mean, put in some chrome wheels, a sweet paint job, and some awesome seats…”
“That sounds like an expensive art form,” I told him once he was finished going on about custom cars. “And while we won’t be covering customized cars in this class, you might learn something to help design some good paintjobs.” I handed him a brownie.
“Best teacher EVER,” he announced to the boy beside him. A couple of the other kids nodded emphatic agreement, especially those who were still eating their brownies.
My first period class passed pretty quickly and was over before I’d even realized it. Fortunately, I still had a lot of brownies. I’d bought quite a few extras, just so I could continue the whole ‘brownie point’ game with another class or two, not to mention, have a few for myself.
When class was over, all the kids rushed out the door. I glanced at my cell phone and saw that I had a message from Ryan, so I stepped outside and found a little privacy so I could listen to it.
“I thought you’d want to know,” Ryan’s voice said, “Jerome Hubbard is back home with his family. The rest of the kids have been returned home as well, but I know you have a special interest in Jerome.
I nodded at that, even though Ryan would never be able to see it. Carson had already filled me in on Jerome’s status, but I appreciated the update anyway.
Ryan said a few other things too, mostly related to being chewed out by his sister, who wasn’t happy to learn about my relationship with Melissa. I chuckled at that. Brandywine was a bit high strung, so I could just imagine how that conversation had gone.
Once I was done with the message, I returned to the classroom, which was now filled with students from my second period painting class. I looked around at the happy and smiling faces…or tired, grumpy, and bored faces, which was a little more accurate. As I’d learned, and could definitely appreciate myself, most teenagers were only half alive at this time of the morning.
Then I noticed that the tray of brownies I’d left on my desk, was now completely empty. I raised an eyebrow at that and then looked around the room again to see if I could figure out the guilty party. No one was currently eating, had chocolate smeared over their faces, or was visibly smirking.
“So,” I asked cheerfully. “Who ate all my SPECIAL brownies?” Nobody answered. “I made them with a special ingredient too…” Again, no response, though most of the kids were looking at me with interest.
I reached into my large desk drawer and pulled out a Costco sized bottle of laxative, and set it down on the desk, right next to the empty tray. I grinned evilly. Several of my students suddenly looked worried and began to squirm in their seats, telling me exactly what I wanted to know.
“There aren’t going to be any excused bathroom breaks from my class today,” I said in a cheerful tone, watching those worried looks suddenly grow worse.
Of course, I hadn’t actually put any laxative in the brownies. Heck, I wasn’t even the one who’d made them…though the kids didn’t know that. I wasn’t going to call out the thieves, or actually even punish them beyond this prank since I could understand wanting to seize an opportunity when it presented itself. However, I still had to teach them not to steal from ME, and spending a whole period squirming in their seats, wondering when their bowels would give out, would do that just wonderfully.
“Today’s class is going to be so much fun,” I mused with an evil grin.
Whateley, Friday late afternoon, Nov 16th 2007
Classes were done for the day. At least, all the normal ones were. I was in my special classroom, teaching one final class for the day, though I only had a single student.
“Good,” I told Aegis, who was covered with a glowing aura, and who had a look of concentration on his face.
I was working with Aegis on his PK shell and helping him learn to reshape it. So far, he couldn’t reshape it much, but you didn’t need to do much for it to be useful. Last week, he’d learned how to form a PK blade from his hands, though he hadn’t been able to hold it for more than a couple seconds. Clearly, he’d been practicing since then, since he could hold his PK blade for more than three times as long as he had during our last lesson.
“You’re getting the hang of it,” I said while nodding in approval.
To say that Aegis was stubborn, would be an understatement. He was without a doubt, my most stubborn student. In fact, this was not only the tendency that constantly got him into trouble, but also the one that eventually lead to him ending up in my wise and capable care.
“You’ve been practicing on your own,” I commented.
“Yeah,” Aegis admitted, looking a little self-conscious. “I’m gonna get this. I can do better…” He had a look of fierce determination as he formed his PK blades again, trying to see how long he could hold them.
I smiled at that. The kid really didn’t know when to give up, and for once, that was to his benefit. If he could put the same determination into training that he did into fighting people outside his weight class, then he’d progress nicely. The challenging part was keeping this determination focused on what would actually help him.
“You know,” I teased Aegis a little, “you might make a decent villain yet.”
“What?” Aegis gasped with look of revulsion. He lost his concentration and his shell snapped back to normal.
“Come to the dark side,” I joked in my best Yoda voice. “Have cookies, we do.”
“I’m NOT going to be a villain he protested
“And I don’t want you to be,” I assured him with a smirk. “But I do want you to keep your focus when someone tries to distract you.”
Aegis looked chagrinned at that, realizing what I was trying to do. I normally loved to distract heroes since that kind of thing gave me the advantage when dealing with them. In fact, that was sort of my specialty. However, if I was going to train someone to become a hero, I was going to make sure that they didn’t have that weakness. Sure, that would make it more difficult for me to deal with Aegis in the future, but my pride as a teacher demanded that I train him right.
“I think we’re about done for the day,” I told Aegis.
Aegis nodded at that, then cautiously asked, “When are you going to teach me how to do some other things?”
I considered that for a moment, or at least, how to answer him. “We’ll keep working on this for a little longer. Once you’re able to reshape and hold your shell a little better, we’ll move on to something else. Honestly, what we’re really working on here is your fine control. The more control you have over your shell, the easier it will be to learn those other tricks.”
My student gave a reluctant nod, clearly disappointed that he wouldn’t be learning any new tricks just yet. “Okay.”
“But if you keep improving the way you have been,” I assured him, “then it won’t be long before you’re ready to move on to something else.”
That seemed to brighten Aegis’ mood. After this, I shooed him out of my classroom and then locked up. A few minutes later, I was on my way back to the Village so I could get some dinner.
As I arrived at the Brown Moose, I saw a familiar but very unwelcome sight. Barney was already there, coming out of the café just as I was about to enter. The sour look he gave me was almost enough to sour milk.
“I thought we’d finally gotten rid of you,” Barney spat out.
“Nope,” I responded with a fake smile, just because I knew it annoyed him. “I’m like a boomerang fish. Throw me away and I come right back.”
“You don’t belong here,” Barney snarled, “and you aren’t welcome.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I feel pretty welcome from everyone who actually matters.”
That seemed to piss Barney off even more. “I don’t know what you have on Carson…”
That just made me roll my eyes, because I was tired of this particular accusation. “You know, Barney,” I said with a sneer of my own. “You aren’t good enough. You aren’t smart enough. And gosh darn it, nobody likes you.”
Barney suddenly grew at least a foot in height, which told me just how close he was to the edge. It might be fun to push him over the edge, but I wasn’t really in the mood at the moment. Besides, I’d promised Carson that I’d try getting along with him, so for once, I did the mature thing. I blew him a raspberry, then walked around him and into the Brown Moose. Barney was still stewing behind me, about ready to blow. Who knew that being mature and just walking away could be so satisfying.
A short time later, I was sitting at my favorite dinner table with my dinner in front of me. Pork chops with an apricot glaze, brussel sprouts with bacon, and some buttery mashed potatoes. Yum.
I was just finishing up my dinner when I received an unexpected visitor. Amelia Hartford slipped into the chair across from me, which was a bit of a surprise since she didn’t usually hang around the Brown Moose without good reason. That meant, she was there specifically to talk with me.
“You should try the pork chops,” I told her pleasantly. “They’re really good.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Hartford said.
“So, what brings you here?” I asked curiously.
“The Triangle,” she answered simply.
I raised an eyebrow. “For some reason, I don’t think that you’re talking about the musical instrument.”
“The Triangle has proven to be a potential threat to our students,” Harford explained, her expression deadly serious. “I’ve already reviewed what you told Liz, but I wanted to speak with you directly about your experiences with them. The more I have to start with, the easier it will be to investigate this group.”
I considered this for a moment before nodding my agreement. “Sure. What do you want to know?”
I didn’t really know much more about the Triangle than Hartford already did, but we still spent the next twenty-minutes talking about them and everything I’d seen. I helped fill in a few details that was missing, but that was about it.
“Thank you,” Hartford told me when we were done. “That will help.”
“Good,” I told her with a scowl. “Because if you can do anything to screw those guys over, I’m happy to help.”
Hartford smiled faintly, though it was an almost predatory smile. I almost felt sorry for the Triangle. Almost.
As we left the Brown Moose together, Hartford asked, “How are the art show plans going?”
Just like that, we’d shifted from business to friendly small-talk. “Pretty good,” I told her with a smile. “The show is in a couple weeks, but plans are coming along nicely. In fact, I’m heading into Boston tomorrow afternoon to check out the Goresky Gallery ahead of time.”
“I do look forward to seeing it,” Hartford told me with a faint smile. Then she turned back to business again. “Thank you for that information on the Triangle. I will be certain to put it to good use.”
With that, Hartford took her leave and wandered off, while I started back to my own residence. However, when I arrived a couple minutes later, I was a little surprised to see a visitor suddenly appear beside my door.
“Melissa,” I started with a smile, wondering what she was doing here in the Village. Then I noticed her expression and tear-filled eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Rapier,” she cried out, her eyes welling up with more tears as she began sobbing loudly. “He doesn’t like me…”
“What?” I asked, remembering that she a crush on that boy. “What happened?”
“Rapier likes Erin…Cauldron,” Melissa sobbed with all the angst and drama that a teenage girl could provide. “I saw them kissing…”
My heart suddenly ached for Melissa. Her first crush had just become her first heartbreak. I didn’t have a lot of experience with romance and relationships, but I knew heartbreak, and I knew it well.
“I’m sorry,” I said gently, grabbing Melissa in a firm hug and holding her tight. “Everything is going to be all right…”
Melissa just held me and cried into my shoulder, while it was all I could do to keep from crying as well. This was one part of growing up that I really wished she could have avoided.
The Village, Friday late afternoon, Nov 16th 2007
Roland Williams clenched his fists in rage, wanting to hit something as hard as he could. It took every ounce of willpower to keep from growing to his full size, and as it was, he’d still grown nearly a foot taller.
“I knew it,” he snarled. “I knew that villain freak was up to something.”
Ever since the Imp had arrived on campus, he’d been warning people about her. He told Carson and everyone else, time and time again, that the Imp was a villain, and that she was NOT there to teach. However, nobody had listened.
A short time ago, he’d been standing near the Brown Moose, waiting for the Imp to emerge so he could confront her again. He was going to make that freak understand that she didn’t belong at a respectable school like Whateley, and that he at least, was not fooled by her in the least.
But when the Imp had finally emerged, it had been in the presence of Amelia Hartford, the Assistant Headmistress. Roland had overheard them talking, and what he’d heard had confirmed his every suspicion.
The Imp was planning some kind of heist on an art gallery, and tomorrow, she was going to go there to case the place out. Of course, the fact that the Imp was planning a robbery wasn’t a surprise. Not in the least. What surprised Roland was that Hartford was in on it.
“I’ve always known she was shady,” Roland announced with a deep scowl. Whatever was going on at this school, Hartford was definitely a part of it. “She may even have been the one to bring the Imp here…”
Roland didn’t know what to do about Hartford. He certainly couldn’t accuse her of anything without proof. She was too highly positioned…and protected. However, he could do something about the Imp.
After a moment of consideration, Roland pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number that he’d recently stored in memory. “Hello, it’s me. The Imp is going to be in Boston tomorrow…”
Boston MA, Saturday afternoon Nov 17th 2007
I was in a good mood as I walked down the Boston sidewalk. Soon, I’d be at the Goresky Gallery, a small gallery that would soon be hosting some of my paintings. This was a nice step in my career, because it meant that Candice Kade was getting more attention and respect as an artist. And after spending so many years as an art thief and forger, being known as a legitimate artist myself, even under THAT name, was a dream come true.
However, my good mood faded a little as my thoughts turned to Melissa. I’d spent nearly two hours with her last night, comforting her after her broken heart. By the time she left, she’d appeared to have been in a much better mood, and when I’d briefly seen her this morning, she seemed fine. But I knew better than most that it wasn’t easy to simply shake off a broken heart, so I worried about her.
Just then, someone bumped into me, shaking me out of my thoughts. I immediately checked my pockets to make sure that my phone and wallet were still there, then I looked at the man who’d bumped into me. He was average looking and had a chagrinned expression that seemed just a little fake. He’d bumped into me intentionally.
“Excuse me,” he said with a slightly smarmy smile. “That was entirely my fault…”
“Accidents happen,” I responded, watching him carefully.
Who was this guy and what was he up to? If he’d been trying to pick my pocket, he would have simply grabbed my stuff and hurried away as quickly as he could, but he hadn’t. However, I had no doubt that he was up to something.
“Maybe I can make it up to you with a cup of coffee,” he offered.
I blinked at that, suddenly realizing that he was flirting with me. I wasn’t really used to that kind of attention, other than from Ryan. At the moment, I was in my ‘Candice’ disguise, and I was pretty sure this guy wouldn’t be able to handle the real me. In fact, if he saw the real me, he’d probably run off screaming. With my devilish good looks, I was just too much woman for most men to handle.
“Sorry,” I responded with a forced smile, “but I’m busy right now…”
However, he wasn’t ready to give up yet and pressed, “Then how about a phone number so I can call you.”
“Sure,” I responded with a smirk. “Eight six seven five three oh nine. Ask for Jenny.”
He quickly began to write down the number, but before he had a chance to consider what I gave him, I slipped away and continued towards the gallery. Still, in spite of how annoying that had been, I was smiling anyway. After all, it wasn’t every day that some guy hit on me…without actually trying to hit me that is.
I reached the gallery a minute later, but as I did so, I paused. Something was…off. The hairs on the back of my neck felt like they were standing up. I might not be an esper, but after so long in the business, I’d learned to listen to my instincts, and right now, they were screaming at me.
A moment later, I began to look over my surroundings again, even more carefully than I had the first time. However, I tried to appear casual and relaxed as I did so, acting as though I wasn’t paying any real attention. After a few seconds, I spotted them.
There were two people standing off to the side, looking like a couple of normal tourists. However, now that I was focused on them, I recognized the woman as Mistress Hex…AKA Hexagoner 2.0, dressed in civies rather than her normal costume. And the skinny guy right beside her… Crash Test Dummy.
“The IRS,” I muttered in surprise.
I quickly looked around but saw no sign of the other members. What were they doing HERE? How could they possibly know where to look for me?
“She’s here,” Hexagoner exclaimed. She held up a metal disk about four inches across. No, not a disk. A hexagon. “The Imp is somewhere close by…”
“Where, exactly?” Crash Test Dummy asked as he looked around. I was bent over tying my shoe, so he looked right past me.
“My enchantment isn’t that precise,” Hexagoner admitted. “If I had some of her blood to work with, it would be much stronger…”
Crash Test Dummy snorted. “And if you would have mentioned that before, you could have had a whole tail of hers to work with.”
“I’m getting a better lock on her,” Hexagoner said, turning in my direction. I slipped back around the corner of the building before she got a good look. “Once my enchantment finishes synching to her, I’ll be able to track her up to fifty miles…”
I hissed in annoyance. This was NOT good news. Even if I slipped away unseen, as long as Hexagoner 2.0 had that thing, she’d still be able to find me. I couldn’t let that happen.
Hexagoner and Crash Test Dummy were walking in my direction, so I quickly hurried down the sidewalk and disappeared down an alley. Then, once I was out of sight, I looked down at myself. If those knuckleheads could track me down, then I had to ditch the disguise. As Candice, I might be able to slip into the crowd, but I’d also be endangering that identity, especially if they kept coming after me. That meant, I needed to take steps to protect my secret.
With that, I opened up the bag I’d brought with me. It contained my working outfit…the catsuit from my previous career. After what had happened with Adamant and Lumpy the last time I’d been in Boston, I thought it would be a good idea to bring my gear with me this time…just in case. I’ve just proven once again, that I was a wise Imp.
I dropped the illusion and quickly changed clothes. I’d barely done that and had just hidden the bag that now contained my previous clothes, when Hexagoner and Crash Test Dummy stepped into the alley.
“The Imp,” Crash Test Dummy exclaimed.
My eyes swept the alley, and I smiled when I saw a stray cat suddenly run away from the noise. I wasn’t familiar with all the escape routes in this area, which was one of the reasons I’d come here today…to scout them out. I needed a moment to think, and that meant, I needed a distraction to buy myself that time.
“I’m the tip, I’m the top, I’m the cream of the crop,” I began singing while my enemies just stood there with their open in surprise and confusion. “I’m the most tip top, top Imp.”
With that, I threw a smoke bomb at the ground, but instead of pulling my usual vanishing trick, I scrambled up the side of the wall. This would have been SO much easier if Hexagoner didn’t have that magical tracking doodad since she would have been able to tell if I was still there in hiding.
“GET HER!” Crash Test Dummy yelled, pointing up at me.
Crash Test Dummy shimmered, and he was suddenly wearing his usual armor. Right beside him, Hexagoner 2.0 had similarly changed into her own costume. That meant the game was on.
I reached the top of the building and was about to begin the daring part of my escape, which included leaping from one rooftop to another until I was out of range. However, something golden shot towards me from above and I just barely dove to the side in time to avoid it.
“Blondie,” I exclaimed. “I was wondering when you’d show yourself.”
Carolynn Northrop, who called herself Heaven, was a gorgeous blonde exemplar, and at the moment, she was wearing her white and gold costume. A pair of feathery wings sprouted from her back, though they appeared to be made of golden light rather than anything solid.
“Hey, Blondie,” I asked with a broad grin. “Would you be interested in buying a stolen painting?”
Blondie glared at me with a look of rage, then formed a sword made out of the same golden energy as her wings. She dove right at me, though I moved to the side so that she sliced into the roof instead. She was good and angry, which meant that she was off balance and not thinking clearly…just the way I liked my enemies.
When Blondie first came at me back in New York, I’d been a little confused because I’d had absolutely no idea of who she was or what she had against me. But thanks to Hartford, I now knew that Blondie was just an obsessive nutjob who blamed me for her father being arrested and ruined. Sure, he’d been a former client who’d hired me to steal a painting for him. However, it wasn’t my fault he’d been stupid enough to show it off to people he shouldn’t have. I mean, who in their right mind brags about owning a stolen painting?
“You’re going to pay for what you did to my father,” Blondie screamed.
“Is twenty bucks enough?” I asked cheerfully. “I’m kind of low on cash.”
She howled in anger and came at me again, slashing her sword wildly. I dodged back and out of the way, and when her blade did come too close, I focused all the energy in my PK aura into one spot, creating a small shield to protect me from the hit. That near hit only seemed to enrage her further.
“You know,” I continued taunting her. “Your dad was a total cheapskate. He tried playing it off like he was Richie Rich, but he was more like Wimpy.” Then in a deeper voice, I exclaimed, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a stolen artwork today.”
I’d never actually met Blondie’s dad. In fact, I hadn’t even known his name until Hartford filled me in on things. I’d accepted the job and payment through a professional middle-man, which was a fairly standard practice in my old line of work. But of course, she didn’t know that. And now that I knew which buttons to push, it was easy to get her riled up and off balance.
Blondie was really pissed off now, and kept charging at me, slashing away with her glowing sword. I kept leaping, dodging, and doing everything I could to stay out of her reach, though I did have to use my focused PK shields a couple times when she got a little too close.
“DIE!” Blondie demanded before launching another attack. When I avoided that one too, she snarled, “What are you?”
“I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam,” I responded before blowing her a raspberry.
At this point, the rest of the IRS appeared, apparently having finally found a way to get to the rooftop. Crash Test Dummy was holding an energy sword of his own, one of Tek Knight’s weapons. Hexagoner 2.0 held out a magic staff and fired a blast of energy out of it, nearly hitting Blondie, who’d recklessly charged at me at the last second.
“There she is,” Jack Ass exclaimed from the other side of the roof. Technically, he was calling himself Jackalope now, but he’d always be Jack Ass to me.
Jack Ass held out his hand, which was covered with a large green metal gauntlet, and fired a concussion blast at me. I dove to the side, laughing when he hit Blondie. If she hadn’t thrown her glowing wings up and used them as shields, she would have been splattered across the rooftop.
“I’m Popeye the sailor Imp,” I began singing. “I’m Popeye the sailor Imp. I’m strong to the finich because I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor Imp.”
“Kill that bitch,” the Crimson Kid announced. He stood there with his hands glowing red, and I knew better than to let him get those things near me. However, he seemed to have different ideas and charged straight at me.
“Hey, don’t touch me,” I exclaimed. “Hands off, Bluto. You’ve got cootie hands…”
All of the IRS was here now, gathered together on this roof. In spite of my joking around, I knew that this was serious business. Individually, these guys were maroons. Unfortunately, when they were all combined, they were also dangerous. The first time I’d faced the Imp Revenge Squad, they’d nearly killed me. I’d managed to escape…barely…and definitely not unscathed. The only reason that I’d beaten them the second time was that I’d gone into the fight prepared…and with a lot of help. Unfortunately, this time it was just me, and I was outnumbered.
In spite of the dire situation, I grinned. I had absolutely no chance of beating all five of these guys in a fight, so it was a good thing that I had absolutely no intention of fighting them. Instead, I’d delayed long enough to get them all in one place, which mean that I knew exactly where each and every one of them was now located. I no longer had to worry about one of them popping out of nowhere and ambushing me.
I suddenly threw several smoke bombs at the ground, creating a small cloud of smoke to obscure me. Then I immediately followed that up by throwing several throwing spikes, hitting Blondie in the arm with one and grazing Jack Ass with a second. However, before my spikes had even hit, I was in motion, running towards the edge of the building, and going almost straight towards Hexagoner, who was in my way.
“Out of my way, Sea Hag,” I yelled at her, right before lashing out with my PK claws and slicing right through her staff.
Hexagoner let out a yelp of surprise and jumped back while I took advantage of the opportunity to leap off the roof. I used a little extra oomph from my PK aura, and managed to reach the next roof over, in spite of a good twenty feet between the buildings. Sure, Blondie could fly over, but the others were all going to have a very difficult time of following me.
“Neener neener neener,” I exclaimed, blowing a raspberry back behind me before racing over the second roof as fast as my legs could carry me.
It was only after I’d passed three more buildings that I decided that it was time to take my leave of these losers. I glanced up at Blondie, who was flying above me and about to dive down. With a grin, I threw down a smoke bomb and pulled my usual vanishing act. Since Hexagoner was the one with that tracking spell and Blondie couldn’t see me, I was in the perfect position to slip away. And I did.
The Village, Saturday afternoon Nov 17th 2007
Roland Williams sat at a small table in the back of the Flying Blue Squirrel, staring down at his beer with a deep scowl. Normally, this was a little early for drinking, but today wasn’t a normal day. Today was the day that SHE finally got what she deserved. That was an event well worth celebrating.
In spite of all that, Roland didn’t really feel like celebrating. He should be there, playing a direct part in bring down the Imp, rather than sitting back and waiting for the Crimson Kid and his friends to do it. Roland didn’t even know who those friends were much less if they were up to the job. How could he trust them with something this important?
“She’s a slippery bitch,” Roland muttered to himself before taking a long drink from his beer. “If they blow this and let her get away…” He could see that happening, far too easily. He knew better than most heroes, just how sneaky that freak could be.
However, another concern tickled the back of Roland’s mind, though he did his best to ignore it. It was one thing to kill a villain in battle, when passions were burning and your own life was in danger. It was another thing entirely to go after one with the sole purpose of killing them. This was a dangerous line to cross, even when it came to stopping someone like the Imp.
“She deserves it,” Roland insisted, trying to shut out that whispering voice.
He took another drink form his beer, finishing off the glass. Then he just stared at the empty glass for several long seconds, debating over whether or not he should order another. At the same time, another debate took place in the back of his mind.
“There’s no way I’m going to let her get away this time,” Roland finally told himself. “Especially not when we can catch her red-handed.”
Roland picked up his cell phone and hesitated. He didn’t know if he could trust the Crimson Kid his friends to do the job, or to not cross a line that he himself wasn’t fully comfortable with. However, there was another option, one that might increase the odds of stopping that villain while silencing that nagging voice in the back of his head at the same time.
After dialing the number, Roland said, “Hello, this is T Rex. I thought you should know that a dangerous villain is running around Boston today, and I know where you can find her.”
Boston MA, Saturday afternoon Nov 17th 2007
I made it a couple blocks before the IRS caught up with me. I’d thought that I’d lost them for good, but it seemed that Hexagoner’s tracking spell really had increased in range.
“Get her,” Blondie yelled from above.
“I’ve got you now,” Jack Ass added a moment later, right before firing a concussion blast at me from his gauntlet.
“You missed me, you missed me,” I called back as I dove to the side. “Now you’ve got to kiss…my ass.”
Once again, I was frustrated by the simple fact that I couldn’t just turn invisible and vanish. Sure, that trick would work with most of them, but not as long as Hexagoner was there to sniff me out.
Hexagoner leapt out from in front of me and fired a blast of flames from her hands. I dropped flat to the ground and let the flames pass right above me. As soon as they were gone, I leapt back to my feet, exclaiming, “My britches are burning. My britches are burning.” It wasn’t often that I got a chance to do a Yosemite Sam.
“Does this freak EVER shut up?” Hexagoner demanded.
“No,” Crash Test Dummy answered, right before firing at me with an energy rifle.
I ran, leaping behind a car and using it for cover. However, before I could get to the next car, Blondie dropped out of the sky, nearly on top of me. Her glowing sword passed through the spot I’d just been occupying.
“You know, this is starting to get old,” I told her. “By the way, how’s your dad doing?”
Blondie snarled and began to frantically slash in my direction. I made sure to move to the side, avoiding her attacks, but also keeping her between me and Crash Test Dummy. She was being my cover without even realizing it.
The Crimson Kid came charging at me from the side, obviously intending to hit me from behind while Blondie kept me occupied. It might have worked too…if I’d been blind and stupid.
I leapt on top of the car and threw a spike at Crash Test Dummy, hitting him in the chest before he could fire another shot. He yelped and dropped his weapon, though I didn’t know if that was because I’d gotten through his armor or just surprised him. Either way, I hauled tail as fast as I could.
“Wow, you guys are bad at this,” I exclaimed. “Five against one and you still can’t get me.”
Jack Ass came charging at me again, holding out his armored hand and firing several blasts at me. I ran and dove for cover, cursing the fact that I didn’t have a normal PK shell. At the moment, having a solid PK shell would have been totally awesome.
Hexagoner 2.0 stood off to the side, holding her hands out and muttering some kind of mumbo jumbo that made no sense. However, I’d worked with and against enough magic users to know that this was probably bad news for me. So instead of waiting around for her big surprise, I kept running.
I saw Blondie diving down at me from the sky so changed directions and ran into the entrance of a large store. If nothing else, Blondie wouldn’t have the room to fly very well in there, which would take away their aerial advantage.
“Come back here,” the Crimson Kid demanded.
This time, I didn’t bother with a clever comeback. Sometimes, those were just wasted on people.
I ran into the tools department, hoping that I could find a machete or something to use as a weapon. Then I saw a chainsaw set out for display and grinned evilly.
As I snatched up the chainsaw, I announced, “Shop smart. Shop S Mart.”
Jack Ass and the Crimson Kid came running towards me, so I yanked on the cord, trying to start the thing. Unfortunately, nothing happened at all. In desperation, I began making chainsaw noises and waving it in front of me, hoping I might bluff those idiots.
“What the hell?” the Crimson Kid exclaimed, coming to a stop and staring at me in disbelief.”
I just glared at him, dropped the chainsaw, and announced, “You wouldn’t laugh if I had my boomstick.”
Before they could react, I threw a couple spikes, hitting the Crimson Kid in the shoulder and getting a yelp of pain in response. However, the second spike missed Jack Ass entirely. I turned and ran deeper into the store.
The IRS followed me, or at least they tried to. I blended into the background as I tended to do, remaining hidden from their sight while I tried to figure out my next move.
“Where is she?” Blondie demanded.
“She’s close,” Hexagoner answered, holding up that metal hexagon. “She’s in this direction…”
“Half the store is in that direction,” Jack Ass exclaimed.
When they split up and began looking for me, I saw my opportunity. I quietly grabbed a guitar that was on display, then leapt out and swung it at Jack Ass, hitting him alongside the head.
“Your stolen garden glove is no match for my kabonger,” I announced as I cheerfully proceeded to keep hitting him until my guitar broke.
Crash Test Dummy and Blondie came running at the noise, and immediately attacked. Crash Test Dummy fired his energy rifle, while I ran down the next aisle and out of sight. Blondie leapt up on top of the shelves with a glowing sword in hand, then dove down at me.
I leapt to the side, barely avoiding her blade as it came down and cut through part of the shelving and all the clutter on it. Scrambling backward, I looked for a way out. Not just from this aisle, but from this whole situation.
Crimson Kid started racing down the aisle towards me, his entire body covered with that burning red aura. When he leapt at me, I dodged to the side and gave him a good shove to keep his momentum going, and to help direct him so that he flew right into Blondie, sending both of them sprawling along the ground.
I quickly raced out of the aisle and back into one of the main store paths where the rest of the IRS now had a clear view of me. Jack Ass was back on his feet but looking pretty unsteady. I’d beaten him pretty good with my kabonger, but obviously not good enough.
Crash Test Dummy tried shooting me with his energy blaster, but nothing came out but a few sparks. I snickered at that.
“What’s the problem?” I asked. “Can’t perform? I hear a lot of guys have that problem…”
The armored villain dropped the now useless weapon and drew the devisor hilt that formed an energy blade from it. He advanced towards me, though he’d learned to be a little more cautious.
“You cut off my hand,” Crash Test Dummy announced. “You cut off my foot…”
“And now I’m cutting off your diatribe,” I said with a smirk.
“We’re going to kill you, you freak,” Crash Test Dummy exclaimed. “You’re going to pay for everything you’ve done to me…”
“You keep ambushing me, so I keep cutting off parts,” I teased, leaping to the side from his attack. “And as long as you keep attacking, I keep cutting…”
He swung his blade at me again. It would do a lot of damage if he happened to connect, as I’d already learned from my severed tail not that long ago, but I was a lot faster than he was, and a lot smarter.
I glared at my opponent, still pissed at him for what he’d done to my tail. That had hurt a LOT. Sure, I’d taken his foot as recompense, but I wouldn’t mind hurting him a little more, especially since he hadn’t learned his lesson.
“Say ni,” I exclaimed, suddenly reminded of the black knight who kept losing his limbs, but still refused to give up. “Come on, say it.”
Crash Test Dummy came swinging at me, but it was at the same time that Hexagoner was casting one of her spells. Without her staff, she seemed to be a lot weaker than she had been, or at least, a lot less capable of throwing off energy blasts.
I waited until she finished her spell, then dove out of the way, right before a glowing hexagon appeared on the ground beneath me, catching Crash Test Dummy inside. He tried walking out but was stuck inside a magical cage, and began howling in frustration, much to my amusement.
“You idiot,” Hexagoner yelled at him. “You walked right into that…”
“You’re the one who can’t aim her damn spells,” Crash Test Dummy yelled back.
“You know,” I told Crash Test Dummy, “the next time, I think I’ll take an eye. You’d better get a parrot and practice saying ARRRRR.”
A moment later, I threw a spike at Hexagoner, hitting her in the thigh. She screamed and dropped to the ground, which was just what I needed. With that, I rushed forward and snatched the metal hexagon right out of her hand. Without this, they wouldn’t be able to follow me.
“So long, suckers,” I exclaimed. “I mean, exit, stage left even…”
But before I could throw down my smoke bomb and pull my vanishing act, I was hit with a concussion blast from Jack Ass that sent me tumbling backwards. I was going to have some bruises from that, but I’ve had much worse.
The IRS was gathering together again and they were all focused on me. Crash Test Dummy was momentarily out of action, still being stuck in Hexagoner’s magic cage, while Hexagoner herself was screaming in pain. However, the bruised Jack Ass, the Crimson Kid, and Blondie were all coming at me.
I clutched my stolen hexagon tightly and ran, straight into the kitchen equipment. I frantically looked around for something I could throw at them, or at least, something that would be useful. There were some kitchen knives, but those were all wrapped up in plastic packaging. Besides, my own PK blades were MUCH better than any kitchen knife could ever be. Well, maybe not when buttering my bread. The last time I tried doing that with my PK claws, or even the blade of my tail, it had been pretty messy.
Then I saw some cast iron skillets and grinned. I grabbed one of those and flung it right at the Crimson Kid, though it bounced off his energy shell. I threw a second one at Jack Ass, hitting him in the chest and knocking him back from the impact.
When Blondie started approaching with her energy sword, I considered tossing another skillet at her. However, I had another use for these skillets, and one that I needed to take advantage of now.
I dropped one of the skillets onto the floor, then dropped Hexagoner’s metal hexagon right into it. I knew iron tended to really mess up a lot of different magics, so putting the thing into a cast iron pan couldn’t hurt. There were a few sparks from the metal hexagon, which I took to be good for me.
“But not good enough,” I muttered, forming a PK blade around the flat of my tail, then slicing down with that and cutting the hexagon in two. There were more sparks, then the thing actually began melting right inside the pan. “That should work.”
“We’ve got you now,” Blondie snarled with a furious expression. She glared at me as though I’d kicked her puppy, insulted her artwork, and made fun of her hair style. “You’re finally going to die…”
“You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that,” I responded in a cheerful tone. “Oh wow, your hair style is hideous…and so is your art. In fact, I think I’m going to go to your house and kick your puppy…”
Blondie leapt at me. I just grabbed another skillet off the shelf and smacked her in the face with it as I dodged. Her nose crunched from the impact and blood began to flow. It was too bad that she was an exemplar, because a bent and crooked nose would really have added some character to her stereotypical blonde bimbo looks.
While Blondie was distracted, I took advantage of the opportunity to lick my finger and stick it in her ear. “Wet Willie.” Then I ran as fast as I could.
The IRS was following too close behind for me to pull my disappearing trick quite yet. Besides, now that I was able to actually make it work and escape, I wanted to go out with style.
When I reached the grocery department, which was actually pretty small compared to a real grocery store, I grinned. I ran down the canned foods aisle and giggled to myself.
“I’ve had all I can stands and I can’t stands no more,” I announced, coming to a stop and pulling a couple cans of spinach from the shelf.
“Does that freak really think that spinach is going to give her super strength?” Crimson Kid exclaimed.
“Who knows what she thinks,” Jack Ass said from beside him. “Just don’t underestimate her.”
Blondie landed on the other side of the aisle, leaving me caught between her and the two bozos. And then, just to prove that I was in even more trouble, Crash Test Dummy showed up, holding Hexagoner, who was leaning against him for support.
I just held the spinach and grinned. A moment later, I focused the energy from my PK aura into my hand and transferred it into one of the cans, an instant before I threw it. I gave the can enough extra oomph that when I hit Crash Test Dummy in his face, his whole visor shattered and he was thrown back.
“Batters up,” I announced, throwing the second can in the same fashion, this time hitting Jack Ass in the guts. He let out a loud ‘ooomph’ as he doubled over and dropped to the ground.
“I’m strong to the finich cuz I throws me spinach,” I sang loudly, “I’m Popeye the sailor Imp.”
Then as the rest of the IRS came at me again, I threw my spikes, hitting Blondie in the shoulder and the Crimson Kid in the chest, though his energy shield seemed to protect him from any real damage. However, I wasn’t really trying to hurt him this time, just distract him.
With an evil grin, I announced, “Touche away,” and threw a smoke bomb at the ground. As soon as I was obscured from site, I pulled my vanishing trick.
“DAMN!” the Crimson Kid exclaimed. “She did it again…”
“Where is she?” Blondie demanded of Hexagoner.
Hexagoner shook her head, looking pissed as well. “I don’t know. She destroyed my spell so I can’t track her anymore.”
I remained where I was, completely motionless and hidden by my chameleon field. The IRS spent a minute arguing about Hexagoner’s spell and how they could track me, then they split up to search the rest of the store.
Once they were all gone, I snickered, “What a bunch of maroons.”
Now that I was relatively safe, I let out a long sigh of relief. I was pretty bruised from all that bouncing around and getting hit, and I even had a couple small cuts from when Blondie had gotten a little closer than I’d realized. Thankfully, my regen would take care of that in no time.
I slipped out of the store, avoiding the IRS, who was still making a mess while searching for me. All the customers and employees and already fled almost as soon as we’d arrived, but the cops had already arrived and had gathered outside.
“It looks like I’ll have to avoid all of them too,” I muttered in annoyance. That meant this was going to take even more time.
Using my chameleon field, I made it past the cops and to the next building over, where I climbed the side to get onto the roof. Once I was there, I let out another sigh of relief and turned off my chameleon field. Now, I that I’d avoided the IRS and the cops, I was free to move at a regular speed until I could get back to the gallery and where I’d left my civilian clothes.
“Then Candice can finish what she came for,” I muttered.
I leapt from rooftop to rooftop and was about three buildings away when a loud voice suddenly yelled out, “Halt, villain!”
“Really?” I asked with a sigh.
I turned to look up at Lamplighter, who was floating up in the air a short distance behind me. How he’d managed to sneak up on me like that, I had no idea. Nor did I know how I’d missed the other hero floating in the air beside him. Skyhawk.
“Lumpy,” I called out with a cheerful grin. “How are you doing? I haven’t seen you since last week.”
“T Rex was right,” Lumpy told Skyhawk, looking smug about it. “The villainess did return to Boston…though she wasn’t at that gallery where he said she’d be…”
My eyes narrowed at those words. “So, T Rex told you I was in town?”
“Indeed,” Lumpy responded. “T Rex knew that a villain like you needed to be stopped, and that we were just the ones to do it.”
“I see,” I commented, though inside I was furious. Barney had tipped them off, though how Barney knew about my plans for the day, I didn’t know. In a quiet voice, I hissed, “Strike three.”
“Surrender now and come peacefully,” Skyhawk announced.
I pretended to consider it for a moment before responding, “Naw, I don’t think so.”
And with that, I leapt off the edge of the building, using my PK aura to soften the blow when I landed on the ground. The heroes immediately came flying down at me, but I wasn’t too concerned.
“You won’t get away this time,” Lumpy announced, forming a giant hand out of golden energy and trying to grab me with it.
“Aren’t you getting a little grabby for a second date?” I asked, leaping out of the way. “Who do you think you are, Squiddly Diddly?”
Skyhawk swooped down at me, but again, I leapt out of the way. “You won’t escape us,” he stated, as though this was a simple fact. “I’ve heard about your nefarious deeds, and I’m going to make sure you face justice for your crimes.”
Oh God, he was one of THOSE heroes. I wanted to vomit from his self-righteousness.
“Sorry, my dance card is all full,” I said. “I’ll just have to fit you in another time…”
Lumpy launched another attack at me, exclaiming, “You’ll never escape me…”
“Look you pervert,” I called back. “Stalking a girl is illegal, and just plain creepy…”
Lumpy came at me again, but I dodged to the side, positioning myself so that Skyhawk was between us. When Lumpy launched his attack, Skyhawk was the one who took the hit.
It was at this point that I saw a third hero arriving to join the fight. Dynaman, a power armored hero who might be a problem, assuming he had some kind of thermal sensors in his armor. That could render my vanishing trick useless.
“I just hope Speed Queen doesn’t show up too,” I muttered to myself. Speedsters could be a real pain in the tail to deal with.
Now I had three heroes chasing after me, and I wasn’t sure my vanishing trick would work on one of them. Not without a bit more effort on my part. That meant I had to get creative. A moment later, an idea came to me and an evil grin formed.
“Bwa ha ha ha,” I burst out with my best evil villain laugh. “My master plan is almost completed, and you fools will never be able to stop me in time…”
“Get her,” Skyhawk ordered. “We have to stop her before she can pull off whatever she has planned…”
I started running down the sidewalk while all three heroes gave chase. I knocked people out of the way, leapt on top of parked cars, and did everything I could to avoid getting hit by my pursuers.
A couple minutes later, I was back at the store I’d just escaped from. Cops were still gathered in front of the place, but now the IRS had excited the building and were in the process of leaving. Blondie was staring to glow, and I was pretty sure that she was about to teleport them all way, the same way she had the last time we’d fought.
“Hey, guys,” I called out to get their attention. “Here I am…”
Blondie immediately stopped what she was doing and turned to stare at me in surprise. “Imp…”
Then with an evil grin, I exclaimed, “Get them, my evil minions…”
“What’s she…?” Hexagoner started to ask.
However, before Hexagoner 2.0 could finish, a giant glowing hand grabbed hold of her, while another one grabbed for Crash Test Dummy. Skyhawk and Dynaman immediately joined in on the attack.
“Stop the Imp’s minions,” Lumpy ordered as he continued his attack on the IRS.
While the two groups fought, I used the distraction of the chaos to pull my disappearing trick and slipped away. Once I was far enough away, I found myself a comfortable position on top of a nearby roof to watch the fight.
“I love it when a plan comes together,” I said with a grin.
A moment later, there was a flash of blue and white as Speed Queen appeared on the scene to join in on the fight. I chuckled at that, glad that I got out of there when I did. Then I let out a sigh. The only thing missing was a nice bowl of popcorn.