[tsat home] [#23] [stories]

by Heath Forbes and Bryan Derksen
Innocent Bystanders, Secret Identities: ©2002 Heath Forbes -- all rights reserved
Heroine Experience: ©2002 Bryan Derksen -- all rights reserved

Chapter 1 (HF): Innocent Bystanders

"If the Hero and the Evil Overlord are engaged in mortal battle, go somewhere else as quickly as possible, before you are squished by a car, the statue of the city's founder, or a collapsing skyscraper."

The Normal Innocent Bystanders Survival Guide, Rule #15.

In a world where superheroes and their archenemies battle things out on a regular basis, a person learns to get on with their life no matter what happens. Even the strangest things can become commonplace, and a large portion of the population actually filter out what they don't wish to see.

The beach was crowded almost to overflowing, but since it was Memorial Day, and beautiful besides, this was expected. It was also Bryan's last day of visiting, and I wanted us to at least get a few hours in next to the surf. Unfortunately the only space for it was way off in a corner, at least a mile down the strand. Bryan didn't seem to mind the walking. He glanced up at the bright streak in the sky. "The Bolt, you think?"

I shrugged. "Could be." My concerns were more mundane -- and I always kept the Survival Guide at heart. Anyone who didn't usually ended up dead, or worse, a True Love or a Sidekick.

We were barely settled before we both saw a woman dressed in silver metallic bikini stop in front of us. She held what looked like a Visor, but it had the strangest springboard module attached to it I'd ever seen. She was also holding what looked like a Victoria's Secret catalog. And on a belt around her impressive hips there were three silver globes on the left, and a strange-looking gun on her right. The bikini barely covered her nipples, much less provided any degree of modesty. She was the perfect vision of femininity, and every move spoke challenge. "Well, what do you know," she said. "A couple of men who actually look at my face instead of my breasts. Like what you see, guys?" Numbly, we nodded. "Good. Then I'll spare you -- to a degree."

She flipped a few pages in the catalog, then looked at Bryan and myself. "You'll like these bodies, I think. All men like a pretty girl to look at. Now you'll be the ones who get stared at. Enjoy yourselves, girls." She holstered the Visor and drew her gun, and we were utterly unable to move because of the sheer power of her looks. Even Bryan was affected.

This was, of course a Supervillainess in all her glory. But I didn't know who she was. Her very presence struck at the very center of our masculinity.

She pulled the trigger twice, first at Bryan, then at me, then sauntered off down the beach.

Nothing happened at first. We had only just spread out our beach towels and were still standing, the cliffs behind us just starting to give a little bit of shade. We nervously awaited our fates.

The first sign something as amiss was Bryan's hair. Abruptly it grew several inches, flowing down his back. His T-shirt was also changing shape, exposing his stomach as the hem moved upward, while the neckline began to plunge. A faint leopard-spot pattern emerged on both his transforming shirt and swim trunks. Bryan's facial features softened, his Adam's apple vanishing into smoother flesh. Then I noticed that he was staring at me as much as I was him.

I looked down at myself. A lock of honey blonde hair fell into my vision, and felt its increased weight on my head. The skin on the backs of my hands looked fairer, smoother, my chewed-on nails and cuticles healed themselves before my eyes. My shirt had now contracted around my chest, what was left of the neckline continuing to plunge downward, the fabric now a red-and-white checker pattern. It was undoubtedly a bikini top. My still-transforming swim trunks revealed widened hips and narrowed waist. I watched as my penis simply vanished into my body, leaving the smooth profile of femininity.

Bryan gasped, and I looked up for a moment. There was nothing of his old face in the one that was staring at the breasts that were expanding like a pair of balloons to fill a leopard-print string bikini. A tingle from my own chest warned me that something similar was happening. As my own chest expanded the bikini top grew taut, then lifted and squeezed my new breasts upward. The cut of the top slanted inward, revealing almost every inch of cleavage. The bottoms weren't much better; I felt practically naked. The changes ended.

Bryan took a deep breath, not taking her eyes from her chest. "Well, now what do we do?" she said in a pleasant alto.

"We sit tight and let whatever Hero comes by take care of her. She went the down the beach near where my car is, remember," I replied, self-consciously crossing my arms across my breasts. Strangely enough, there were people looking at us. Mostly men, of course. Guys dressed in tight little swimsuits that made me feel rather strange. "Shit," I realized. "She changed our sexual preferences with that thing!"

"I noticed," Bryan said, looking at a particularly handsome guy. "I keep looking at my breasts and they don't do anything for me. I never realized the technology was that powerful."

Those who had more sense had noticed the Supervillainess and were clearing out as fast as they could. Deciding the best course of action was to simply sit here until it all blew over, I picked up my beach towel and wrapped it around myself.

Down the beach, chaos erupted.

We both watched as she tossed one of those silver globes of hers. It flashed once, exploding soundlessly. Every man within thirty feet suddenly let out a quite feminine scream of panic. Dozens of rapidly feminizing men got up and ran. They didn't make it far. Within a quarter minute every single one of them became quite as female as Bryan and I now were. Half the beach was in a panic to get out.

The Supervillainess laughed madly, and tossed another of her bombs...

...only to have it caught by the Bolt. He appeared in his signature blue flash, then stood there in all his spandex-wearing glory. I thought he looked silly in those tights. But then, Heroes were never known for understatement. Thankfully, before he could even spout a trite word, the bomb exploded.

The Bolt collapsed in her bikini, sobbing like a child over her lost manhood, utterly useless. And another dozen oblivious men were caught besides.

"This is crazy," Bryan said. "What a wuss."

"You know, I've never heard of her before. She didn't even give us a name," I replied.

Bryan pondered. "I think I know her by reputation, though. I think she's Canadian. Her face is familiar. Militant feminist caught in a lab accident that actually had the effect of enhancing her femininity. She started using her power over men for ill-gotten gains and poof. Supervillainess."

I sighed, feeling the bikini top grow briefly tighter. "You know where this is heading, don't you?"

Bryan stood up and pulled her hair back from around her face. Amazingly there were still guys on the beach, and they looked at her appreciatively. Bryan looked at her admirers and rolled her eyes. "Yes, yes. The Innocent Bystanders Who Must Save the Day. She made the Fatal Mistake of making us immune to her power. Let's go take care of this while she's still cackling over her success. I'll distract her."

"Of course, you realize that if we do this it's the first step down the road to becoming Heroines? All it takes is a single little accident and poof, you're Leopard Girl and I'm a doe morph version of Xena."

"I know, I know. But what choice do we have? I've got a plane to catch tomorrow and I'm going to need all sorts of stuff before I leave."

Knowing what my role was, and no longer all that self-conscious, I picked up a conveniently placed and fair-sized piece of driftwood and held it behind my back. Then we both quickly, yet casually, walked down the beach towards the still-gloating supervillainess. Once there, Bryan tapped her on the shoulder. "Excuse me, may I distract you for a moment?"

It worked, of course. That's my cue. Without hesitation I knocked the evil woman over the head with the hefty stick, smacking her unconscious and sprawling ungracefully on the sand.

Twenty minutes later the police arrived. The Bolt was still sobbing, absolutely inconsolable. Of course, there was a fairly good chance that she would experience a Grand Awakening and a new Heroine would then be on the scene, but considering the strength of her reaction, I didn't think that was likely.

The female officer who took our statements and that of witnesses seemed quite pleased. "You girls are going to get quite the reward out of this. Silver is wanted in most of Canada for gender-bending incidents like this one. You're lucky you two were already women."

"Excuse me?" Bryan said. "We're victims."

The officer blinked. "You are? I thought you said your names were Heather and Breanne..."

"It's Heath and Bryan," I insisted.

The officer shrugged. "In that case, the money will help you get started again. You do realize that unless there's a critical need, we can't change you back? Frankly, I can't make that recommendation in your cases, considering my first impression. The technology that did this to you is quasi-legal at best..."

"We know, we know," I replied with a dismissive gesture. "Let's just get the legal stuff taken care of. Name changes, stuff like that. And I think we're going to need the money for a new wardrobe, don't you, Breanne?"

The bikini-clad girl smiled wryly. "Of course, Heather."

The officer shook her head, then simply treated us as we appeared -- which was how we really were anyway.

Chapter 2 (BD): Heroine Experience

"I can't believe we've been in this mall for two hours and I haven't found a comfortable bra!" I complained. Heather just sighed and nodded; she'd been having some difficulty in that department also. I chalked it up to simple inexperience on our parts, though, since the bodies Silver had zapped us into had come straight out of a Victoria's Secret catalog specifically intended to sell such undergarments.

In the meantime we had been getting along with what we had. The clerk hadn't even blinked when we'd entered the latest women's clothing store dressed in ill-fitting men's jeans and T-shirts. The news of the mass transformation on the beach had made it all the way to page two of the newspaper, presumably thanks to the involvement of the relatively-well-known superhero Bolt, so perhaps she simply assumed we'd been among the many other Innocent Bystanders that had been caught up in the action. Both Heather and I were satisfied with that; it was safest and easiest to just slip back into background obscurity now that the villainess' plan had been thwarted. Staying out of the limelight that Superheroes and Villains shared was the best way to lead a relatively sane life these days.

Not that we didn't have any further role to play, of course. Shopping for new clothing was number eight on the standard list of Things To Do After Unexpectedly Becoming Female, and I had shifted my flight home back a week so that Heather and I could work through all the items on the List together. She'd already sent in her change-of-identity forms, officially becoming Heather Forbes; I'd do the same once I got back into Canada and picked out a suitable new name. And I'd have to get through customs first, a headache I was not looking forward to. Supers were not as common in Canada, people weren't used to dealing with their effects up there.

At least the shopping was turning out to be kind of fun. The reward money had been quite substantial, considering that it usually went toward the upkeep of superheroes' expensive secret bases and fancy crime-fighting equipment, so we were able to afford whatever items caught our eye. I found myself quite caught up in the hunt for just the right clothes. I had the body of a beautiful woman now, after all, and it only made sense to want to show it off a little.

I held a beige silk blouse against my ample chest and checked out how it looked in the mirror. "Have you got this in a more yellowy shade?" I asked the clerk.

"Afraid not," she shook her head. "Perhaps something like it in spandex, instead?"

I sighed and shook my head, replacing the blouse. There were a lot of heroes in this city, so the local feminine fashions tended towards the skintight and skimpy even among Innocent Bystanders. But Heather and I had actually played a role in defeating a villain, so our Innocent Bystander status was at risk; better to not tempt fate with a wardrobe like that. I wandered over to Heather, who was checking out a green halter top, and glanced at the clerk before whispering to her.

"We may need to try another store. The clothing here is too heroic."

"You said that about the last three stores as well," Heather whispered back, sounding slightly exasperated. "It's just the style right now, that's all." Then she paused, looking thoughtful for a moment, and said in a normal speaking voice; "Why are we whispering, anyways? It's not like we've got Secret Identities to hide."

I winced, realizing how furtive I'd been acting. "Oops. Right." Another glance at the clerk showed her to be nonplussed, and so I tried to put it out of my mind and return my attention to the clothing. I took a rust-red shirt from the same rack Heather had got the halter-top from. "Hey, this one looks --"

"Stop, thief!" The cry of alarm came from just outside the store. I immediately dropped the shirt and turned to rush outside and see what was going on, but Heather caught my arm before I could take a step.

"Don't be a Hero," she reminded me.

I winced again. For some reason, I seemed more susceptible to slipping into stereotypical behavior than Heather was; it could have been because I was less jaded with the whole process. "This is getting annoying. Why are there so many crimes in this city, anyways?"

"Heroes attract Criminals of similar caliber," Heather quoted from the List of rules. "Since there are a lot of superheroes around here, a lot of crimes have to happen for them to fight. Just wait a minute and someone will show up to capture whoever's out there."

Heather had lived around Superheroes a long time, and obviously knew the routine well; just as she finished speaking there was a tremendous crash and a woman in bright yellow spandex crashed through the ceiling outside the shop, a large beam knocking down a fleeing robber and pinning him to the floor. "Good call," I complimented Heather. "Though kind of a destructive entrance for a hero..." I trailed off. The woman in spandex was very familiar, and rather than taking the slightest notice of the pinned robber she was glaring straight into the store at us. "Bolt!"

"You!" Bolt exclaimed, sounding quite insane. "Thieves indeed! You two took my reward, took my glory, took my manhood!"

"Uh oh," Heather and I sighed in unison, and dove together behind the nearest counter as Bolt hurled one of her trademark kinetic blasts through the storefront at us.

"Take that!" Bolt screamed through the shattering glass. She hurled another, and then another.

Heather and I huddled behind the counter as the bolts shook the store, spraying feminine undergarments everywhere. "Is the store clerk safe?" I asked Heather over the din.

"Ran off into the background," Heather replied.

I sighed. "Lucky bystander. So what do we do now?"

We covered our heads for a moment as a rain of shredded pantyhose boxes showered over us, and then Heather replied, "As long as we're having important dialog back here, Bolt will just stand out there and take potshots to keep us pinned down. We have to keep talking."

"Until what?" I ducked as a dismembered mannequin got blasted over the counter, and then continued. "That's a Superhero out there. Who's going to stop her?"

"I hope you're not suggesting what I think you're suggesting," Heather warned.

For a moment I didn't know what she was talking about, but then it all snapped into place with crystal clarity. "There's a sporting goods store just across from here," I remembered. "Is Bolt susceptible to stun weapons? Yes, of course she is. If we were to use the same tactics we used before on the beach against Silver, with me as the distraction --"

"Bryan, listen to yourself!" Heather grabbed my shoulder and shook it as if to try snapping me out of some delusion. "You sound like one of them. That guess about Bolt's vulnerability was completely out of the blue!"

"That's why it'll work!" I took a deep breath and tried to keep calm despite the increasing urge to leap into action. "We can do it, Heather. Just like before. We're the good guys."

Heather snorted, but also grinned wryly. "So much for your lifelong dream of becoming a Supervillain, eh?"

I grinned back. "Hero, Villain, both are part of the same show. Shall we?"

"Are you two done yammering yet?" Bolt screamed in frustration, unleashing another barrage.

"Just a moment longer," Heather shouted back as I began quickly stripping off my clothes. "What are you doing?" Heather asked.

"The Law of Inverse Feminine Armor Protection," I responded. "Can't remember which number it is on the list. The more skin I'm showing, the less likely I am to get hit." I finished pulling off my socks, leaving nothing except the skimpy leopard-print bikini my bathing suit had been converted into by Silver's Boy/Girl Gun the other day. I'd been meaning to replace it with proper lingerie, but fortunately hadn't got around to purchasing any yet.

Heather sighed and shook her head. "Right, of course. Well, after you."

I nodded. "Okay. On the count of three. One, two..."

"Attaaaaack!" I leapt over the counter and hit the floor running, sprinting low and dodging back and forth as I went to throw off Bolt's aim. It was close; kinetic blasts smashed into the floor all around me, one of them tossing me several meters through the air. I landed rolling, got back to my feet, and continued running in one smooth motion. I was so surprised by my sudden athleticism that I stopped yelling for a moment.

I heard some more kinetic blasts going off behind me but didn't feel their impacts, and glanced back to see that Heather had made her move in the window of distraction I had provided. She sprinted straight across the mall and dove into the sporting goods store just as Bolt opened fire; I didn't see whether she got hit or not through the rain of debris. "No!" I screamed, unable to stifle the melodramatic urge. "Heather! Rrraow!!"

The snarl surprised Bolt just as much as it surprised me, but at least it caught her attention; she turned back toward me and unleashed another barrage. I leapt three meters straight up with a terrified "eep!" and then hit the ground running, diving behind a massive concrete planter for cover. I crouched there for a minute, panting and trying to think of where to run next. My ears twitched and I heard Bolt's footsteps approaching; there was no dialog to save me this time.

Trapped. Cornered. Can't flee, fight! The thoughts came from a level below language, and I felt every muscle in my body tense. I bared my teeth and claws, emitting a low snarl under my breath as I got ready to spring...

I blinked and stared at my fingertips, consciously noting for the first time the curved black claws that my nails had turned into at some point in my run. "Oh, of course!" I muttered. "I should have guessed, with this bikini --"

There was an almighty crash as the planter blew apart, hurling me back to land flat on my backside. Bolt stood right in front of me, her hands surrounded by a bright aura as she charged up to fire again. "Quit hogging my spotlight!" she spat, and prepared to fire.

Thunk! An arrow slammed into the small of Bolt's back, releasing a bright blue flash as its blunt stun-tip went off. Bolt stiffened in pain, and tried to turn. Another arrow hit, and Bolt staggered. Seizing the opening, I snarled and lunged for her throat...

And smacked her over the head with a chunk of the concrete planter. She dropped like a sack of potatoes.

I stood over the fallen Hero, panting and grinning triumphantly from ear to ear. Heather came out of the smashed sporting goods storefront, carrying the bow she'd used to fire those vital arrows. I blinked in surprise; she'd changed into a humanoid deer, with reddish-brown fur, cloven hooves, protruding muzzle, and large mobile ears. Her shirt was wet, and she smelled bad too. "What happened to you?" I asked in astonishment.

Heather sighed. "There was a whole rack of bottles of doe estrus scent in there, for hunters to lure bucks with. Bolt's blast smashed them all over me."

"But why did it... oh." I glanced down at myself again, noting the velvet-like coat of leopard-spotted fur that covered my skin; just enough to make me look feline without altering my overall human form. "Our Powers manifested in the heat of the fight, when we most needed them."

Heather nodded. "Complete with convenient justification for why we got them. We're official Superheroes now. Or Heroines, that is."

I considered that for a moment, and then my grin returned. "Jean Doe and Leopard Girl! We'd make a great team!" I struck a pose.

Heather groaned. "Come on, Leopard Girl, let's figure out how to switch back to our Secret Identities before the police arrive and make things even more complicated."

I followed Heather back into the ruined shop to grab some street clothes and shift back into fully human forms again, but continued grinning throughout like the proverbial cat that caught the canary. I'm going to have to cancel my plane ticket yet again, I realized. This city is full of miscreants and lawbreakers. We've got work to do.

We slipped back out to the parking lot just as the police began arriving now that the action was over.

Chapter 3 (HF): Secret Identities

Having the body of a female supermodel I could take. But this?

At least the Dark Alley behind the mall provided the perfect place to return to our human forms. There were always places like this near large businesses and buildings for Heroes to use to conveniently return to their Secret Identities. My skin itched as the fur quickly vanished, the bones of my face creaking uncomfortably. I wasn't precisely unhappy with Breanne. I could hardly blame her for being so enthusiastic about this whole thing, but I still didn't like this one bit.

There were multitudes of ways I could have had myself changed into a deer morph. This wasn't one of the ones I was hoping for. "So much for having a normal life," I said with a heavy sigh. Even if it had become a normal female life instead of a male one. For the tenth time since diving into the sporting goods store I wished I hadn't worn a tank top. Perhaps I might have avoided getting the estrus scent on so much of my skin if I had. But the top was cute and flattering; and damn it, I loved this body and wanted to show it off as much as Breanne.

Which left another difficulty in its wake. I was still having trouble with thinking of guys as sexy, but my thoughts betrayed me whenever I tried to avoid it. Women simply didn't stimulate me in the old way any more. In retrospect, Silver did more to us than simply change our sexual preferences. While we weren't given magical knowledge about makeup, clothing, or when we'd experience our periods, we were acting like most girls who were concerned about their looks. Our mannerisms were in-character with our bodies, and I really didn't feel like a guy in drag. We'd shopped and enjoyed it, blending in perfectly with the hundreds of other women who were in the same mall doing the exact same thing.

At least my family hadn't batted an eye. Mom had just asked me if I needed any help with anything, and had given me the Mother-Daughter Talk. Even the supervisor at my new job didn't seem to mind, since the university library was mostly staffed by women anyway. And anyone who lived in this city for longer than a year quickly ceased being amazed by anything to begin with.

Our transformations had left our human forms changed somewhat. My partner stood with unconscious feline grace, moving fluidly from place to place. I was probably stronger now than when I'd been a man. My muscular physique was nevertheless no less feminine than before, and my breasts had actually firmed up a bit. Isn't that irony for you, I thought. Unzipping my purse, which I'd managed to grab as we left, I dug for my keys. "We'd better head back to my apartment. I lost my sandals when I changed, so I need to grab a new pair before we go back to shopping."

My friend wrinkled her nose. "And you'd better change your clothes, too. What is that stuff? Smells like doe p --"

"It is. Let's go."

An hour later and we returned to shopping, this time without incident. By nine in the evening we were back in my apartment, surrounded by over a dozen bags apiece from various stores. Most of the store employees had been quite helpful, we had clothes for every occasion. From casual shorts, T-shirts, and sandals to at least one basic black dress for formal occasions. This left us with only three things left to do on the Standard List; purchase cosmetics, get a makeover, and then a rather ambiguous "Celebrate! Revel in womanhood!" I rolled my eyes. The List was generally a good one, except for that last item.

While I was busily deleting news site bookmarks from my web browser there was a knock on the door. The last thing I wanted was to go somewhere and find a Plot Point just waiting for me to read it. The TV was unplugged for just that reason. Nothing that required our powers would happen as long as we kept ourselves isolated -- or at least, that's what I hoped. Plot Points had a funny way of happening in themselves. For all I knew the silly thing would arrive in a telegram or via UPS. The Universe was stubborn where they were concerned.

Breanne opened the door before I could stop her, but there was nobody outside. The only things sitting there were several large boxes only marked with my name and address. There was a much smaller box with my friend's name on it sitting atop everything. Since I didn't really want them sitting out, we brought them in. "Who do you suppose dropped these off?"

"Might as well open the first one and find out," I said resignedly. I hoped it wasn't what I thought it was...

My partner sliced open the tape with a hand changed into a paw, smiling widely. Out of the open box she took out several catalogs and a official-looking letter. She blinked a couple times and stared. "It's from Bob's Hero Warehouse, congratulating us on our new abilities." Her eyes moved quickly over the letter. "'Please accept this equipment free of charge, in the hopes that you will come to me for all your future Heroic needs. And visit out web site at www.bobswarehouse.hro. Happy crimefighting!"

I wanted to puke.

That is, until I pulled out what was inside the first box. It wasn't the kind of leather armor that Xena typically wore, but instead was something like plate armor that went over the chest and groin. The chest piece was quite flattering (as if the armor makers were capable of anything else) and oddly looked like it would fit perfectly. But I had to admit, it was quite tasteful otherwise. Just holding it made my arms grow fur right up to my elbows.

Breanne opened the box with her name on it, only to find another leopard-print bikini. She smiled. "Looks like the hand of Fate has grasped us firmly by the tails. The instructions say this thing is guaranteed to never come off in the heat of battle."

I felt the urge to reply in bad middle English, but managed to knock that down. Carefully laying my prized armor out on my couch, I opened up the other two boxes. Within I found a sword and one of those "expander" bows that compact neatly, but no arrows. There were instruction manuals included with everything. For the next few hours I sat and read them while my partner posed in front of a mirror in her feline form. She looked like a catgirl straight out of an anime. No doubt I looked like I should have been in a Red Shetland comic.

Unable to resist, I changed forms, and with the help of the instructions put the armor on. The sword went on a scabbard on my back, and the collapsed bow clicked on an attachment on my right hip. I wasn't a barbarian doe, I was a female knight in shining armor.

This I could do.

To top it all off like the icing on a cake, the rather skimpy armor that didn't actually seem to protect anything vital was comfortable. It didn't chafe or anything, and because of that I didn't begrudge the revealing slit that went halfway down between my cleavage. The lower portion was actually modest, with a utility belt for attaching all sorts of things, and a protective steel plate hanging down in front. My midriff was bared (in a sense, since it was covered in white fur), but it gave me flexibility where I needed it. Overall the effect wasn't bad. Okay, admit it. You like this and now there's no going back.

The only thing I was missing were arrows, so I loaded up the web site to order some. At the top of the page as soon as it loaded up was "Welcome, Steel Doe!" I blinked. "'Steel Doe'? How did he come up with that?" Breanne smirked, but didn't answer. I looked down. "Oh. Never mind."

I knew just what I needed, something I didn't question. It simply came with my new powers. Two minutes later I found what I was looking for: an "EverQuiver", able to produce a hundred specialized arrows or twice as many normal ones, depending on need. And when it was empty, all one had to do was change the batteries. Perfect. I also looked at my armor online, and found that there was a helmet to go along with it. I ordered that, too.

A light rapping on the door and we found that everything had been delivered nearly instantly, and a quick examination of my purse showed that my cash had been debited the correct amount. "Well, how convenient." I clipped the quiver to my belt. "Now to shut it off..."

The whole outfit shrunk into a simple stainless steel bracelet on my right arm, leaving behind my street clothes and the ability to return to human form. I turned it off and on a couple times, then left it on. The clock on the wall read well past midnight by now. "Want to go to the beach tomorrow?" I asked.

"Sure," my partner said with a smirk. "The best place to fight crime is where there's a lot of people, Steel Doe."

It's going to take a while to get used to that name. But oh well. It's probably been leaked to the media already.

Before I logged out my eyes drifted over to the bestseller list. My jaw dropped when I saw what was at the number one spot: Heroics for Dummies. By the Bolt! My partner looked over my shoulder and groaned also. "That's... not good."

"I think I'll pick up a copy, actually," I said. "Might give us insight into how he -- I mean she -- thinks."

Behind us the TV came on all by itself. "This is Local Headline News," the anchorman said. We spun around to watch. "The former Hero the Bolt broke out of jail today soon after her arrest, but not before freeing the Supervillainess known as Silver also. As she flew away with Silver, the Bolt exclaimed, quote, 'I shall not rest until all men have been eradicated from this Earth!' Their whereabouts are not known at this time." A silver beam hit the anchorman from the left. He changed into a rather pretty redhead dressed in a conservative suit. She went on, unfazed. "But we here at Local Headline News now have a pretty good idea."

In the background came Silver's evil cackle. Bolt came and stood next to the anchorwoman. She was dressed in skin-tight yellow spandex that gave her the appearance of being just about nude. "This station is off the air." She fired a bolt at the camera, and the picture went static.

"But... the TV was still unplugged!" Leopard Girl exclaimed.

There was one thing keeping us from springing out the door to the rescue, I realized. I wouldn't be caught dead driving a 12 year old Sentra! "Mayhap we should combine my gold and thine, my friend, to purchase new horses for both of us."

Breanne repressed a chuckle. "Do you realize what you just said?"

Said? What did she mean? "Explain thyself. These words of thine make no sense. We must go defeat this harlot right now!"

"I guess I'll have to get a tape recorder. But whatever you say, Steel Doe."

Silver and the vile traitor to all that was Good would soon be seeing the inside of the King's dungeon!

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