I shook my head to make sure I wasn’t delirious, or seeing things, or something; because what stood before my eyes just wasn’t right. Could it really be her, sneaking around the hideout of a nigh omnipotent supervillain, and coming to my rescue? To think, of all the weird things that had happened the last few weeks this was what took me off guard.
“What are… you doing here?” I whispered. “How did… you find me?”
Tanya poured over the benches and brushed tools aside in search of something; a key, maybe? Not that there were any locks on Dr. Vortex’s machine. I was bolted in tight; letting me out was probably never an option for him.
“You know you’re internet famous, right?” she laughed. “The Glimmer Girl hashtag is pretty hot right now. People have been posting sightings since you started. All it took was a search engine, registering accounts to some networking sites I’d usually never touch, and voila!”
“That’s… the stupidest thing… I’ve ever… heard…”
The sounds of destruction bellowed nearby; sirens crackled into silence, and shots fired. Dr. Vortex had started his rampage anew, and he wasn’t wasting any time.
Tanya bit her lip and grunted. “How am I supposed to get you out of this thing?”
“This thing is… draining my powers,” I gasped. “If you can turn it off then I can… I can…”
She turned to the machine on the other side of the room, fixed her glasses and frowned. What could she possibly do against a throbbing pillar of energy that takes things apart on an atomic level? It was like she’d forgotten that I was the superhero in this relationship.
“Okay, so all I have to do is turn off the death ray thing,” she reasoned, as though it were that simple.
I tried to talk her out of it, but the pain was getting too much. Ice needles inched through my veins, hollowing my chest, filling my brain with fog; what was Tanya doing? She needed to get out before Dr. Vortex came back and did this to her, or worse. After seeing what he’d done to Mr. Drew…
Tanya emerged from the shadows again, this time with a twinkle in her eye, a twinkle in her smile, and a twinkle running down the blade of the fire axe she cradled in her hands. Funny thing, but the sight didn’t bring me any sort of comfort.
I wheezed at her, “Tanya… what… are you going to do… with that…?”
“Death ray needs a power source, right?” she argued. “All I need to do is cut it off and you get your powers back; you save the city, yadda yadda yadda, the end.”
“What if you… fry yourself…?”
“Then I fry myself,” Tanya huffed.
Why wasn’t she listening to me? “No… you can’t…”
“Listen, KC, I’ve been watching out for your ass since grade school, and I’m not about to stop now!”
She raised the weapon above her head and brought it down without hesitation. I could barely watch as it cut through the tube, severing connections and sending hiccups into the swirling rings. A force rippled as sparks flew, slapping me in the face and pushing Tanya even further.
The energy wave slowed to a trickle, and the crawling under my skin began to ease. Suddenly I could feel it again; Glimmer Girl’s warmth inside my chest. It was small and fragile, but it was there and starting to swell.
I threw my weight against the shackles in an attempt to get free; I had to see if she was okay. “Tanya? Tanya!?” She said nothing; it wasn’t until I had strength enough to blast from my confines that I could see why.
When I stumbled around the corner I found her in a heap, staring wide eyed at the ground. Tanya pulled her arm close to her and pressed down on the wound that bled between her fingers. Trembling and with tears streaming down her face she searched for words, but they were caught in her throat.
A string of obscenities crawled from her lips. “It think it’s @#$%ing broken…”
“Gee, you think?” Without thought I was at her side to prop her up. “I’ll get you to an ambulance. You’re going to be okay.”
“Right after you take out that Vortex @#$%,” she added.
You’d think the psychopath in the middle of it all would be the last thing to slip my mind, but there I was, heavy with dread, knowing that I couldn’t run away. Damn it, I hate when she’s right.
I stopped, and listened; there was no more gunfire, no more sirens, and even the machine that blasted the sky was fading into silence. Were we alone? Tanya and I huddled in a corner behind a bench, and made ourselves small.
Pounding steps echoed as a figure ran to the console. Dr. Vortex cursed and flailed, brushing heavy instruments from the counter tops.
“No, this isn’t possible! I thought of everything!” He muttered other things; unrepeatable things, and circled the area like a storm.
I looked to Tanya, and she nodded; time for action.
From the dark I studied him; Dr. Vortex still only had the one gauntlet. Awesome; I was weak, but so was he, and this time he didn’t have hostages, or fancy bondage traps to lock me in.
The moment his back was turned I sprung, shooting like fireworks and catching his shoulder as he looked back. Everything I had left pushed us through the wall, smashing through sheet metal and concrete until I was dry. Cold ran over my body and I fell, colliding with the asphalt; but Dr. Vortex flew even further, and rolled until he smacked into the remains of a police car.
My fists clenched and pressed my body from the road. No matter how much I hurt it felt good to get in a hit like that. Hopefully there would be others.
I spat the taste of copper from my mouth and seethed. “We just trashed your insane scheme, Teddy! Whatever you were trying to do, it ends right now!”
Dr. Vortex found his balance on the hood of the vehicle and turned his gaze toward me. He was ready as he always was, and for the first time so was I.
To be continued…