Betsy Visits River City.
Billie and Robbie stood outside their headquarter building watching the sky. Billie was happy to be there. She had had to hive off her coordination of the heroes during this crisis to Shadow for this meeting and was enjoying her short holiday.
“There,” pointed Robbie. Billie took a few more seconds to see the speck in the sky to the East.
“What is it?” she asked.
“It’s a broom,” said Robbie.
Billie looked at Robbie. That was said in the robotic voice she couldn’t get away from, the one without any emotion at all. But still, amazement was the predominant emotion Billie received.
“There’s one woman on the broom and another being carried in a net attached to the broom. It’s fast. Too fast. They’re not slowing down and they should.”
Billie watched as the speck magnified quickly into a broom and a net and then she could discern the people on it. The pilot was flying sidesaddle. She didn’t expect that. She realised they weren’t stopping while heading straight for them. At the last minute she screamed dived to the ground and covered her head. There was a whoosh and a scream as they passed close to them and headed off to the West.
Rising again, she looked and saw the broom in the distance perform an impossibly tight turn with the net swinging out behind it, before returning. The pilot still hadn’t reduced speed. Billie looked at Robbie, who, as far as she could tell, hadn’t looked away and hadn’t dived. She determined not to dive for cover this time. It was a close call, but she stayed upright.
Robbie started to give a commentary. “The pilot has something in her hand this time and she’s swinging it round. I don’t understand how she can do that at the speed they’re going, but she’s doing it.”
Billie watched as the broom sped towards them again but this time veered towards the flagpole. The pilot threw whatever she was holding at it and it caught on the flagpole. Instead of speeding off again, they circled the flagpole at speed. Robot Girl estimated the G force on them to be 15 and wondered if they would survive.
The flagpole circling induced the illusion of a spiral in Billie’s eyes, who immediately tranced and lost all sense of self, while the broom corrected itself somehow. The spiral was accompanied by a scream that waxed and waned Doppleritically, which added to the hypnotic effect and dropped Billie deeper into trance.
Eventually they stopped. Robbie gave Billie a smack across the chops when it was safe to do so. The sound of that slap reverberated around the whole area. Billie thought that slap was excessive, but, in the light of these events, said nothing about it. However, she did remember it for future action.
Billie and Robbie stared up at Betsy in the net. Betsy prevented them seeing the pilot, so they stared at Betsy, who was lying face down in the net. Her eyes were towards them but they knew by her demeanour she wasn’t seeing them, or indeed, anything at all. She was turning a funny colour though.
Robbie and Billie were then deluged in sick as Betsy was finally able to relax enough to vomit. It was a pity Billie had her mouth wide open at this point and she tasted Betsy’s breakfast while her head became covered in it. It was also a pity she was breathing in at the time.
Eventually she managed to wipe her eyes enough to see what was happening while she coughed out the gunge that was threatening to choke her to death. She saw the broom gently lower itself to the ground. The net landed first and Betsy scrambled out and knelt, weeping, on the ground. Above her a tall, skinny, dirty blonde woman with a big nose was still sitting sidesaddle on the lowering broom fiddling with some sort of controls they couldn’t see. Robbie activated her full array of diagnostics on that broom and couldn’t detect anything except the wood and twigs that were visible. Eventually the broom stopped less than a metre from the ground and this woman stepped off and faced them.
The woman said something, but Billie didn’t hear. She scraped out her ears and removed some pieces of carrot and turnip. Now she could hear.
“… and we’re very pleased to see you,” Robbie was saying.
Billie dragged her fingers through her hair in a makeshift comb, trying to free her hair from the worst of it’s new look. She looked at her hands after their first pass, shuddered, and flung what was there onto the ground.
“I’m sorry, but I missed your name,” she said.
The blonde lady smiled. “I’m Faeryfaye, Flapper Girl,” she said, “and this is Betsy.”
“Yes, I’ve met Betsy before,” Billie answered. “I’m… No, we are very pleased to meet you.” She looked at Robbie because she didn’t know if she had invited them in. She’d obviously told this Faeryfaye her name.
Robbie looked pristine and gleamed her metallic chrome gleam like she always did. ‘That yuck must have slid right off the Teflon Bitch while it actually stuck to me,’ she thought to herself. She tried to chide herself for that unworthy thought, but that just wouldn’t stick.
‘And that’s the only thing that didn’t stick,’ she thought as she continued to remove large chunks of part digested food from her hair, face, clothes and, worryingly, the inside of her bra. ‘Why are my neuroweave clothes out of action for adjustment today of all days,’ she thought. Looking down at herself, she came to an instant decision. ‘I’m not going to even try to wash this. They’re going straight into the trash and I’m getting a shower before anything else. And forget about the villains and their new weapon, I’m going to be clean before I get back out there.’
“I’m so sorry about the mess. Betsy’s not used to flying.”
Betsy finally discovered her brain was now investigating what was happening around her and heard that.
“I can fly,” she added with heat. “I’m even qualified to fly military jets for fuck’s sake. Being dragged around in a net on the back of an antique broom flown by a fucking maniac with magick the only thing keeping us up is not flying. It’s comic book suicide, that’s what it is. And I don’t like dying. I’m not good at it and it’s not natural anyway.” Betsy was quite emotional in her rendition of her feelings.
“Hey, don’t worry about that,” lied Billie, answering Faeryfaye. “It’ll clean off in no time.”
‘No it won’t,’ she thought.
Robbie interjected. “This way,” she said, leading them into the building.
Once inside Billie left them to Robbie while she went to have a shower and a change of clothes. She was still finding large chunks of carrot in strange places. How much carrot did Betsy eat?
During the quick shower, Billie cleaned her favourite area vigorously and screamed from the sudden pain. Carefully inserting a finger, she hooked it around a foreign object and gently pulled it out and stared at it. ‘A carrot? In there? With sharp edges?’ She stared at it for a while then did what any sane person does when confronted with the impossible. She ignored it and got on with her life.
Robbie said, “Follow me, please.” They ended up in a refectory type room where she brought them drinks. Water for Faeryfaye who was wary of refreshments from people she didn’t know, and coffee for Betsy, who wondered if all American coffee was as delicious as Pearl’s.
Betsy wished she had chosen the water, but didn’t say so.
Robbie was impressive in an ‘I’ll beat you into a bloody pulp if I want to’ kind of way. Betsy’s philosophy was to always agree with such people, then work out how to get out of it while staying alive.
Once they were all settled, Faeryfaye started to fulfil Betsy’s prophesy by turning directly to Robbie and saying, “What are you, Robot Girl?”
Betsy choked on her drink but still managed to elbow Faeryfaye. “You can’t say that,” she eventually exclaimed. “It’s rude. Robot Girl has a right to privacy just as you do.”
Faeryfaye’s washed out blue enlarged eyes turned to Betsy. “But I’m not threatening her. And I’ll tell her anything she wants to know about me. I’m not a rude person, Betsy.”
Betsy’s anger was rising. This was happening too soon and she was hungry. “First, I need food,” she snarled. “I seem to have mislaid me breakfast somewhere. And second, you’re wrong. Will you explain in every detail who we work for? And what you do exactly? What do you think ‘Her’ reaction will be to that?”
Robbie noted the capitalisation on the word ‘Her,’ and stored the reference in a file she had already opened concerning these two interesting people.
“Of course I won’t. That involves other people and I can’t be expected to divulge that sort of information, Betsy. As for what I do, you imply Robot Girl will object. Why would she do that. She knows nothing about magick so it’ll mean nothing to her.”
Robbie’s head was swinging freely back and forth, as if she was at a tennis match, as they spoke. She was recording everything, every word, every nuance and micro expression for later analysis by herself and her professors. She didn’t mention this breach of privacy to her guests. After all, while they appeared to be helping her and her League, their agendas could just coincide on this event. They could be deadly enemies in a week’s time. She may be a friendly and accommodating robot, but she wasn’t stupid and she knew from direct experience what could happen. She wasn’t going to interrupt until these two stopped. They would be on their guard if they responded to her, but to each other? She’d get far more information this way.
“They know magick here, or one form of it at least. So don’t expect them to be ignorant. And what if your questions involved Robot Girl?”
Billie returned resplendent in her new clean outfit and clean hair. Robbie quietly requested her to get some food for their guests.
“A lot, please,” said Betsy politely to Flapper Girl. Betsy was always polite to people who brought her food.
“What form of magick do they know?” asked Faeryfaye.
“Of all the questions that should be asked, you ask that? They know something about mind control is what I’m talking about. So, lock your mind. And remember Vicky’s here as well. She’s already adding her abilities to their mix.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you Betsy. How good are they?” Faeryfaye’s eyes unfocused for a while after she said that.
Betsy was conscious of Robot Girl right there and that Flapper Girl was getting them, especially her, some food. “Good enough to worry,” she answered, hopefully without giving anything away. Betsy wondered about exactly what Robot Girl could do. She turned to Robot Girl.
“Sorry about that. Please ignore that question.” She said, hoping Robot Girl would answer anyway.
“That’s no problem,” answered Robbie. “But there’s no need to be formal now. I’m Robbie Bayport but call me Robbie and Flapper Girl is Billie. And I’ve no problem answering your question.” She turned to Faeryfaye saying, “I’m a robot, made of metal and electronics. My brain is based on a human brain, so I can relate to humans. I’m physically stronger than most humans and I can compute quickly. In addition, I can relate to human randomness and integrate that into my predictions.”
Faeryfaye was fascinated. “What else can you do, Robot Girl, er Robbie? What about your senses? Are they enhanced?”
“Yes they are. It’s sometimes very useful for crime prevention, which is my main purpose.”
“How? Can you give an example? What about reading fingerprints in situ? Can you do that?”
“Oh yes. That’s easy. I can read and compare a person’s fingerprints and compare them to our database while talking to them.”
Betsy’s eyes widened, and she started to think back. Robbie, without showing any overt reaction, tabled this as something to investigate later.
Faeryfaye continued. “That’s fascinating. I assume you’ve already done that to us. Any specific conclusions?”
Betsy realised Faeryfaye was assuming Robbie would be compelled to answer such a direct question and became very interested in the answer.
“Yes. Betsy is interesting. Our investigations show her fingerprints at a warehouse where some sort of criminal activity occurred a few days ago. Eventually we would want to ask her about that. Obviously fingerprints don’t show the dates they were made, but such evidence must be followed up.
“We’re especially interested in that event because two of our policewomen disappeared when they were investigating the scene. We’ve checked repeatedly and they’ve not been in contact with anyone at all. It’s as if they’ve disappeared into thin air.”
Betsy noted there was no apology in that little piece of worrying information. Her eyes unfocused for a short while as she instructed her body to change her fingerprints yet again. She should really do this daily, as per mission regs, but there were so many fiddly silly things to do on a mission and she always forgot something. She felt bad about those policewomen though. That goth looking woman with the glowing arms and eyes must’ve done the deed. Betsy’s brief evaluation of her told her those policewomen were now lost to the authorities, so she needn’t feel guilty about not saying anything.
Robbie picked up this defocussing of her eyes and noted it for future analysis. She congratulated herself on her decision to release that little titbit to see their reactions.
Billie returned with food. Betsy smiled the smile of the famished and tucked in. She didn’t know exactly what it was because it was American, but it was good enough for now. Faeryfaye thanked Billie properly before asking what it was. She removed Betsy’s plate once she was told. Betsy growled and showed her teeth. Faeryfaye ignored her while Billie jumped back in fright.
“Sorry Billie, but Betsy’s in my care at the moment and her diet is critical and quite specific just now. Where’s the kitchen and I’ll prepare it.” Billie took her there and helped. She did this as a distraction move to prevent her screaming at Faeryfaye and to get herself away from Betsy, who seemed to be a bit unstable. She hoped it was temporary.
Betsy looked at Robbie. “Are you OK with us asking about you?” Her stomach grumbled loudly as she asked this, but they both ignored it. Betsy’s stomach wasn’t used to being ignored, so it set up a complaint on a loop, that would only be turned off when it got what it wanted.
“Of course. You’re on our side and your efforts will be enhanced if you understand what we can do. And ours if we understand what you can do, of course.”
‘Of course,’ Betsy thought, nodding at the answer. ‘How do I get out of this?’ Fortunately, Faeryfaye came back with a bowl full of fruit.
“Perhaps you could start on these, Betsy,” she said. “And one of these,” she handed Betsy one of her herb bars. Betsy thanked her as she left to finish a proper breakfast. Betsy looked at the herb bar and smelt it. Robbie looked on impassively, in recording mode. Puzzled and frowning, Betsy opened the bar and took a small bite, tasted it, gurned, then spat it out into her hand. She binned the bar and the bit in her hand, ensuring they were buried well below the top level of the rubbish in there, but she left the wrapping open on the table. Then, after wiping her hand on her legs, she tore into the fruit, eating quickly and messily and glad to have the opportunity to ignore Robbie’s question, never mind any further questions she might ask. Her stomach lost volume.
Robbie sent out an order through her internal radio that nobody was to touch that bin. She would retrieve that bar herself for analysis as soon as politically possible.
Betsy had nearly finished the fruit when two people ran in.
“Robbie, just the person we’ve been looking for,” said Pinnacle. “Tim here has an urgent problem. I’ve helped as much as I can but I don’t think it’s enough.”
Robbie said, “Betsy, meet Pinnacle and Tiny Tim. They’re both super heroes. Tim and Pinnacle, meet Betsy. She’s here from Britain to help us with another problem.”
“Another problem?” said Pinnacle. “We don’t have room for another problem.”
“I’m afraid we’ll just have to make room, Pinnacle. What’s Tim’s problem?”
Tim piped up after he and Pinnacle acknowledged Betsy and she them. “I’ve had a tip off from someone who knows the villains and wants to sell us information about what’s happening. I have to meet her soon, but the psychiatrists have checked and estimate it to be a trap. I’m to meet someone called Emily, but she’s probably Copy Cat, who has just copied Pinnacle’s powers. There’s no time to explain how she did that now. She did though. Pinnacle’s been trying to teach me how to evade it. We’ve been practising for over an hour and it’s not working. She’ll know about the mirror trick as well. Copy Cat may have information we need but I don’t know how to get round her stare and she won’t talk to anyone else.”
“What’s the time scale?” asked Betsy, desperate to avoid answering more of Robbie’s questions.
“About an hour before I have to leave,” answered Tim.
“And what’s this Copy Cat’s power?”
“It’s like mine now. If I focus, I can stare at someone and leave them in a deeply vacant and suggestible state.” She smiled, remembering something. “I find it very useful.”
“And you’re certain this Copy Cat’s power’s the same as yours?”
“Yes. That’s her power. She can copy any other super’s power but it only lasts a few hours. So, she’s on a deadline as well.”
“What about you Tim? What are your powers?”
Tim told her.
“Is there a spare room we can use?” asked Betsy after a pause for thought. “It has to be close though. We both don’t have much time.”
Pinnacle took them to a nearby room.
“Good enough,” said Betsy. “I assume there are cameras here?” Betsy knew there were cameras there, she could feel them, but she didn’t want them to know that. They knew far too much already.
“Yes, of course.”
“Good. Make sure the people who’ll make the decisions on this are watching.”
A voice came out of the speakers in the room. “They are.”
“OK. Tim, I want you to watch me closely, that’s all for now. Pinnacle, when everything’s ready, I want you to give me that power stare of yours.”
“But I don’t want to do that. Your business must be urgent as well,” said Pinnacle, “and this’ll delay you.”
“Yes, but Tim must know, for certain, your power stare can be beaten. The mind is everything in battles like this.”
Pinnacle started to think of her reputation. She was young and had issues of competition to deal with, as well as general coolness. This Betsy waltzes in and teaches Tim how to beat her stare? She’s not going to let that happen.
“Now here’s the tricky bit. Tim,” Betsy talked directly to him, “what will absolutely convince you that Pinnacle is controlled by me?”
Tim hummed and hawed.
“Oh, for God’s sake. I’m a lesbian and Tim knows it. Just make me suck his cock. That’ll convince him.”
Tim blushed. “No, I don’t want to do that to you.”
“Don’t you see? She’s just boasting. She won’t. In fact, I’ll get her to suck your cock.
“Fine by me,” said Betsy. “OK Tim?”
Tim blushed and nodded his head. Pinnacle smirked.
“OK, everyone ready?” said Betsy. “I’ll give a countdown. On zero, give me your stare, Pinnacle. Tim, you just watch my face. See what happens. Three. Two. One. Zero.”
Tim looked confused. “Nothing happened,” he said.
“That’s because nothing happened to me, but look at Pinnacle.”
Tim looked and saw she was standing there staring at nothing.
“Pinnacle, obey me.” Pinnacle stared at Betsy. “Kneel in front of Tim, pull down his pants and suck him off. Do it now.”
She did, without hesitation. Well, she got to drop his pants before Tim found his voice again and told Betsy to stop this.
“Stop Pinnacle.” She stopped.
Betsy ignored her and turned to Tim. “Don’t worry about her. She’ll come round in a few minutes. Do you believe I can do this?”
Tim stammered a yes.
“Good. I can teach you how to take advantage of this situation with her, once you drop her like this.”
“I can’t do that. How did you do it?”
“That’s the easy bit I’m going to show you. It took me months to learn how to do that, but I can teach it to you in seconds. It’s what you do afterwards that’ll be the tricky bit. Now, do you want to learn?”
“OK. Now strip,” ordered Betsy, while stripping herself. “C’mon,” she said when she saw him hesitating. “We don’t have all day.”
When they were both naked, Betsy said, “I’m guessing here, naturally, but I don’t think you’ll be able to get your information when she’s under that stare. It’ll be too close to her core identity and that’ll give her the impetus to fight your questions. Pinnacle absolutely knew you wouldn’t let her suck your cock, so her doing what she did doesn’t count.”
“So, you’re going to have to deepen her compulsion to you. And the quickest and most effective way to do that is through pleasure. And that’s usually done through orgasms. You’re going to have to fuck this Copy Cat into deep submission. Once you do that, she’ll simply answer any questions you have without question. You do know what to ask, don’t you?”
Tim didn’t trust himself to speak and just nodded.
“Right,” said Betsy, lying down on the floor. “This place could do with some carpets,” she said, apropos of nothing. “Lie on top of me,” she ordered. “Hey, get your cock up first.”
Tim was embarrassed. “I, er I can’t just do that at will,” he said. “I have to like her first.”
“So you don’t like me?” said Betsy automatically.
This threw Tim into a panic.
“Stop, I’m only joking. I just wish the men I use are more like you. Never mind about that now. I’ll get it up for you when I need it. Just lie on top of me in the standard missionary position. Betsy opened her legs and Tim was bullied down on top of her. Betsy put her fingertips to his temple and mumbled a few words quietly.
Tim went to sleep, while his body stayed awake.
“Can you hear me?” said Betsy.
“What do you want to be called?”
“OK Timothy. Did you see what I did?”
“I intend to put that ability directly into your mind. Do you want me to do this?”
“Stop thinking until I talk to you again,” said Betsy. Timothy was silent.
Eventually Betsy said, “OK Timothy. You now have the ability to mirror Copy Cat’s gaze. Can you feel how it’s done?”
“Are you confident you can work it?”
“Do you understand I’ve only given you two shots at this. After that you will lose the ability.”
“Right Timothy. Now I’m going to teach you how to interrogate a woman. Do you want to learn this?”
“Right. Engorge your penis and insert it in me fan… er pussy.”
“Now, here’s what you do now…”
They all returned to Robbie just as Faeryfaye returned with Billie in tow. She had a platter full of steamed vegetables which she set in front of her charge. Betsy tore into it. Billie had already noted there were a lot of carrots in there.
“What happened Pinnacle?” asked Robbie.
“You saw all that?”
“Yes. Betsy made it look easy. As far as we saw, she did nothing at all, but you went under.”
“Yes. It’s embarrassing. I used my stare on her as she requested and it was like that time when a mirror was used on me. All I could see was the inside of my own head and by then it was too late. I stared myself into submission.”
Robbie looked at Betsy who was still stuffing her face. Faeryfaye said, “Mirror spell?” and Betsy winced and nodded with her mouth full. Faeryfaye went on to explain. “Betsy taught him a basic mirror spell. Well,” she thought and looked at Betsy, “did you teach him?” Betsy shook her head and held up her thumb and index finger, indicating ‘two’. She wasn’t that daft. Faeryfaye continued, “Betsy didn’t teach a mirror spell to him, she inserted it fully formed into his head, and set it to operate twice. I don’t know why she did that.”
“I can guess,” answered Robbie. “Is it for Pinnacle to test it now on Tim? If it doesn’t work then the operation is off.” Betsy nodded while Faeryfaye looked around them. She was just starting to get an inkling on what they were talking about.
“Oh,” said Tim, and looked at Pinnacle. “That makes sense. Do you want to try it Pinnacle?”
Pinnacle immediately agreed and produced her power stare there and then in a surprise move. She ended up entranced and everyone was impressed. Tim looked amazed.
“Right,” said Robbie. “As far as I’m concerned, this operation goes ahead if Tim and Pinnacle are agreeable. Is everyone agreed?”
There was a confirming ‘Yes’ from the tannoy.
Tim agreed straight away but they had to wait a good ten minutes for Pinnacle to be able to agree. They left immediately after that.
“Why can Tim only use that twice?” asked Billie.
Robbie answered. “Once for the real event and once to prove to us all it was viable.”
Betsy stopped eating, “No,” she spluttered, her mouth was still full and she sprayed food around as she interrupted, but she did stop Faeryfaye telling them too much. Not that Betsy would lie. She would tell them what was good for them. That was much better than the unvarnished truth, wasn’t it? “I impressed this ability onto his mind” (Betsy deliberately didn’t say the word ‘spell’ as that word would take their minds further where Betsy didn’t want them to go. It was better this way. Much more sanitised.) “because there wasn’t enough time to do anything else. Tim has to go if anyone goes and this was the only way. I programmed his mind to only use it twice, once for real and once for that test, because the more he uses it without all the training and mental preparation I have, the more likely it is that his mind will react against it. And after that, well, nobody really knows what’ll happen, but most times it’s not good. You really don’t want anyone wandering around with an ability like that and a mind that’s unravelling. He may get lucky, but I’m not going to risk that.” Betsy went back to eating and Faeryfaye nodded.
Billie and Robbie thanked Betsy.
“Thanks, I needed that,” exclaimed Betsy when she finished in record time.
Faeryfaye had closly watched Betsy eat.“You really should take your time and chew properly, Betsy” She said.
Betsy looked at her. “Yes, but time is short and we must be getting to that castle. I can deal with it from here,” Betsy added hopefully.
Then she went rigid. Faeryfaye stared at her. This was definitely not expected. Faeryfaye looked concerned and started to move to Betsy when Betsy stopped her with an upraised hand.
“Do you feel it?” asked Betsy.
Faeryfaye concentrated before answering. “No. What is it?”
The others looked on in silence. Robbie put security on alert.
“Something’s just come. Something extremely powerful. Just now. It’s there,” she pointed up, at about 70 degrees, and a bit behind her. “It’s about twenty metres away that way and it’s not moving.”
“That’s the hospital ward,” said Robbie rising. They all followed her there. Once outside Betsy placed her hand on a chrome shoulder and stopped her entering.
“No. It’s too powerful. You stay behind me and Faeryfaye. Faeryfaye, you come in after me. Take the low line but follow my lead, just the same as the exercises.” Imperious Betsy had taken charge automatically. Billie was at the back wondering if she should check on all the other heroes. After all, they did need organising and Shadow was inexperienced at the task.
After a pause, Betsy smashed the door open and entered, battle ready, her mental defences on a wasteful maximum. She immediately fixated on a bed in the corner, specifically on a blonde woman who was staring at her from her bed. The staff around the ward backed off. Betsy felt a mental probe on her mind as she tried the same thing on the blonde bint. Both attempts were unsuccessful.
“That’s Omega Girl. She’s not an enemy,” said Billie from the back. Betsy had acted before she could sneak away to more important work.
Betsy ignored her and approached Omega Girl warily. Faeryfaye sidled off to the side and everyone seemed to ignore her, even Robot Girl.
Betsy was at Omega Girl’s bedside now. “Who sent you?” she asked.
Lacie smiled but didn’t relax. She had a lot of broken bones and other things that were healing far too slowly for her to be confident if this ended in a fight.
“Nobody sent me. I’ve been here a long time now. Long by your standards anyway. This is just a coincidence.”
“Bollocks,” was Betsy’s succinct reply.
They stared at each other. Lacie was very careful not to move despite her pain.
“Betsy,” said Robbie carefully. “This is Omega Girl. She’s been with us for years. I think you’ve made a mistake. I don’t know exactly what you’re threatening Lacie with, but I assume it’s dangerous. Please back down a little and we’ll talk.”
There was a pause before Betsy answered. “No. Billie, has she been here for years?”
Betsy was flummoxed. This didn’t make sense. “No. I felt her arrive. You all saw it. She arrived only a few moments ago.”
“Er,” volunteered one of the nurses, “she only regained consciousness a few moments ago.”
That made sense. Betsy’s phone went off. It was Loki and that fucking tune. How did he know her new number? Betsy was torn. She really needed to answer that before the song did irreparable damage to her brain, but she had the advantage over this goddess. And you don’t get advantages like this more than once in your life. Eventually she had to drop the advantage somewhat in order to answer the phone. What’s the point of having the upper hand on a goddess when you have a melted brain?
Carefully, she opened the text by touch, keeping her eyes firmly fixed on Lacie. Holding it up where she could see both Lacie and the message, she read it while still watching Lacie.
Lacie is to go to Eyjafjallajökull now. Her work is there.
Betsy didn’t bother to text back. She said, “Don’t be stupid. She’s in no condition to go anywhere.” Immediately that fucking music started up again. Betsy was ready for it and accepted the text.
I’ll use you to channel healing. Do your Spock thing.
Betsy showed the texts to Lacie, who had lain back silently throughout all this drama. She read them, then nodded. Betsy dropped her attack readiness, bent over and placed her fingers on Lacie’s head.
After a short while, Lacie stretched and got out of bed.
“Is that it?” queried Betsy. “I just touch her and she’s better? Don’t you have an effects budget? That was pathetic.”
Lacie, smiling, dressed while she watched Betsy complain to the air. Another round of music happened. Betsy was quick to stop that sound.
What do you want? Fireworks and storms and lightning?
“At least a fucking sparkler,” answered Betsy. Lacie laughed at that. “And what about that monster I’m probably going to have to deal with now? Lacie here’s the one to fight that thing, not me.”
More music, quickly accepted.
Lacie has her own work. Your quest is to give Pearl her heart’s desire. Do what you want with the monster. That’s not relevant.
“Oh come on,” started Betsy, but now it was obvious there was nothing there. Betsy looked at Omega Girl. “I don’t want to know what you are or why you’re here or what you have to do at Eyjafjallajökull (she pronounced it correctly). The more I know about this godding stuff the more dangerous it is. I had a nice quiet life before Loki and I want it back again.”
Lacie, now ready to go, grinned. “I don’t believe that. You are destined for this life.”
“Wait a minute,” exclaimed Betsy, just remembering. “Loki’s an egregore. You can’t be real.”
Betsy looked at her in horror, making Lacie laugh louder. Betsy turned around to see the rest of the room lying unconscious on the floor. Even Robbie.
“What the fuck?” she said.
“I think Loki did that. Don’t worry, I’ll wake them.” She went round each of them in turn and woke them up gently. Betsy woke Faeryfaye up carefully. Faeryfaye wasn’t experienced in the field and no doubt her defences would be automatically triggered if Omega Girl tried to wake her.
“Everybody,” said Omega Girl. “I can’t help with your present predicament. I have a more important task to do now. Betsy here will deal with everything while I’m gone.” She sniggered at Betsy’s face when she said that. Then she left.
‘Oh fuck,’ thought Betsy. ‘What am I going to do now?’
She said, “OK. The episode’s over. Let’s get back to my food.” Everyone groaned at that but they all went back down and the ward resumed its function without Omega Girl. Betsy thought it strange. She expected a lot more demands for explanations, especially from Faeryfaye, but they all acquiesced and moved as requested. Once back, they all seemed to acquire more life force.
Faeryfaye said, “Of course you can’t take over from here, Betsy. You know you’re under my care. I would never forgive myself if anything happened to you because of me.”
‘What the fuck?’ thought Betsy but she stayed silent. It took her a while to work out what was happening. Or what had happened. She’s still unsure about that.
Hold on,” said Billie. “Is Betsy ill? Should she be going to the castle at all?”
“No she shouldn’t, Billie. I revived her just a few hours ago and the prescribed procedure is bed rest for a few days. But I can’t control her that much, so I compromised and let her return as long as I’m here to monitor her.”
This was surreal. Betsy wondered if they remembered anything at all. But how would they reconcile Omega Girl’s absence? ‘Sod it’, she thought. ‘Loki can deal with that. I’m not even going to try.’
Billie looked at Betsy with a concerned expression on her face.
Betsy looked at Faeryfaye with an exasperated expression on her face.
Faeryfaye looked at Billie with a benign expression on her face.
Robbie looked at Faeryfaye with no expression on her face.
Not really surprising. She had a metal face.
Robbie stated to Faeryfaye, “We have excellent medical facilities here you can use if you feel the need. Also we have the services of a group of world famous psychologists if they’re needed. In addition we have restraint facilities if needed. Our staff are all highly competent and I offer you the use of our facilities if you feel the need. Can you tell us the problem?”
Betsy felt the need to run. She surreptitiously adjusted herself as she looked at Faeryfaye.
“Thank you very much,” answered Faeryfaye. “But I don’t think we’ll need them at the moment. Betsy is a robust individual and she seems to be responding well. “Even now her reactions are back to normal as you’ve just seen, Robbie.”
Betsy looked back at Robbie.
“Don’t worry Faeryfaye. I did see her reactions and I locked the exit, just in case.”
Betsy looked daggers at Faeryfaye. She was hindering her at every turn.
“Thank you Robbie. I do appreciate that. But, I hope you realise that would only slow her down somewhat. In itself it wouldn’t be sufficient.”
Billie looked puzzled. “What are you talking about?”
Robbie answered. “When I mentioned our medical facilities, especially the restraint facilities, Betsy adjusted her position to one where she could run off easily. And run off towards the correct door to the outside I may add. That is, in itself, interesting, because, as you know, this place is designed to be geographically confusing to all new to the place, and Betsy entered here while disorientated from her journey.
“I noticed this and after Faeryfaye’s explanation, which is still incomplete, I mentally locked that door. Faeryfaye then indicated that would not be sufficient, but it would merely slow her down if she made a run for it. I then locked all the doors to the exit, contacted security and gave them Betsy’s details. They are now guarding the building’s exits.”
“Thanks,” said Billie. “I didn’t realise all that. What’s insufficient?”
“Our knowledge of what ails Betsy. Obviously she’s on our side, but I infer Betsy’s ailment may be serious, perhaps life threatening, and I wouldn’t want to aid her if it costs her her life. So I acted as I did for now. If we get more information on Betsy’s condition, I may change my mind and actions. But they stay for now.”
Billie turned to Betsy. “What’s wrong with you Betsy?” she said with a doe-eyed expression of concern.
“Nothing,” said Betsy, controlling her anger. “Faeryfaye’s just overreacting. I’m fine.”
“I don’t think controlling you like this straight after I’ve revived you from death is overreacting, Betsy,” Faeryfaye replied in her oh so caring voice.
Billie gasped and looked at Robbie, who nodded, despite her anatomy preventing this manoeuvre. They had worked together for a while now and Billie knew that meant Robbie had analysed Faeryfaye’s explanation and determined, using her observational powers and hidden detectors, that Faeryfaye was telling the truth and that Betsy was fibbing, just a little bit.
Betsy groaned inwardly. Faeryfaye was at it again. She was giving away too much information to outsiders. And she didn’t realise that meant double trouble when it was to Americans. You never knew what Americans would do with such knowledge. Fortunately they assumed Betsy had been revived by mouth to mouth, or electric shock, or some such procedure. Faeryfaye had lucked out in not mentioning the rebirth machine. That would really freak them out. The CIA would try and take over Britain to get at that and then they would search Britain for as long as it takes until they found it, which they wouldn’t of course, but it would be a nuisance.
Time to change the subject.
“OK,” Betsy said to the Americans before they could properly assimilate this information. “It’s time to get to the castle.” She needed to get their minds firmly onto this subject and off the previous one. “You said you may have a couple of your heroes to help, plus an observational report. Have you managed that?”
Billie shook her head at this quick turn in the conversation. She didn’t notice Betsy glare a warning at Faeryfaye, but Robbie did. Betsy realised Robbie would record her reaction and hoped she would draw the wrong conclusion.
“Yes,” answered Billie. “Our observations produced nothing of interest but, on your say so, we placed two of our operatives in the woods, They’re there now.”
“You do know Dr. Orlof has sensors and traps in there?”
“No, but our girls are trained and can take care of themselves.”
‘So can I and look what happened,’ thought Betsy while she replied, “Good. Thank you. Who are they and what can they do?”
Billie answered, slowly. “They aren’t our normal heroes, Betsy. You must realise we don’t advertise all of them. Some, like these two, only do missions where the public won’t associate them with us.”
‘Oh yes,’ thought Betsy. ‘What have we been lumbered with?’
“OK,” she said warily.
“They are The Heroin Heroine and The Rectum Wretch,” said Billie. “They are really effective at what they do, but we would appreciate it if you kept their membership here to yourselves.”
“Of course we will, Billie,” answered Faeryfaye, much to Betsy’s annoyance. That could have been something to bargain with, what with everything Robbie was learning about them, but now Betsy was committed. She didn’t say anything but Robbie noted and recorded her reactions.
“They don’t sound too wholesome,” said Betsy warily. “What are their powers? I’m afraid to assume.”
“Well, The Heroin Heroine has incredible strength and speed, also an immunity to most drugs, due to her overuse of heroin in the past. But she has to shoot up to get her powers working and they last as long as she’s high. And, to forestall the obvious question, she’s been checked over thoroughly and the doctors’ verdict is the heroin somehow doesn’t actually harm her any more. She can overuse her powers, her strength in particular, and harm herself that way. But most of us take that risk.
“The Rectum Wretch can produce noxious gasses from her, er, and can empty a building very quickly. She can also shoot varying sized pellets of, er, well, either very hard or extremely soft and gooey. If they stick, they really stick. She has a range of about a hundred feet and her accuracy is amazing, especially if you consider how she aims. She has to load up with food in order to achieve peak performance levels. Takeaways seem to be the most efficient foods for her performance.”
‘Oh shite,’ thought Betsy, who, because of her recent trauma, was strangely unaware of the pun. “Right,” she said aloud. “We’d better get there as quickly as possible. Will you please let me out, Robbie.”
Robbie looked at Faeryfaye, who nodded after a dramatic pause. ‘Typical,’ thought Betsy. She’s been watching Holby City again.
Robbie nodded and said, “The exit is now clear.”
“Thank you,” said Betsy with as much sincerity as she could muster. Turning to Faeryfaye she said, “Let’s go.” Turning to the Americans she asked, “Can we borrow a car?”
“We’ll use the broom, Betsy,” said Faeryfaye.
Betsy was amazed. “But you can’t stop it properly. How’re we going to creep up on them when we approach at speed and have to toss out an anchor to stop by spinning?” Betsy thought about this for a short while. “And while we’re on this topic, how did you reduce our inertia to be able to loop that flagpole and stop us being crushed to death?”
Faeryfaye smiled. “I’m learning as we go, Betsy. Remember I did manage to lower us to the ground eventually. I wanted to do things by the book but, if you remember, you persuaded me that speed was of the essence.”
Betsy frowned. There she goes again with the unfair truth. She shut up and resigned herself to another trip on that fucking broom. “It’s a short trip this time. I’ll go pillion,” she said, trying to keep the hope from her voice and replacing it with authority.
“OK,” said Faeryfaye.
Betsy’s eyes went wide with shock, but she had enough sense left to say nowt.
On the way out Betsy suddenly said, “Oh fuck it,” in an undertone, stopped, grabbed Billie by the arm so tight she gave a little cry. Betsy walked them both to the far end of the space and turned so her back was to Robbie. Billie looked at her with a little fear in her eyes.
“Do you ever get anonymous tips?” she asked quietly, hoping Robbie wouldn’t be able to hear or lipread.
Billie nodded while rubbing her arm.
“Well, here’s another one. The one you’re looking for for the disappearance of those two policewomen is probably The Dominatress.”
“Sort of gothy looking. About my height but she had heels on. High heels. Leather jacket and long leather skirt all in black. Black blouse as well. Expensive costume ’cause all the blacks matched. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get blacks to match? That’s why I’m on your side. Their side is far too fashion conscious and their expectations are way beyond my abilities. Gothy, as I said, but with bright red lipstick, black hair piled up in a chignon, looked classy that. Oh yes she had a face mask on as well. Black, obviously. That covered the top half of her face. She has some sort of power, approached me, er, her, my friend, er acquaintance, with her eyes and hands glowing and expected me, er, him, to just do what she said.”
Betsy thought for a bit while Billie, now intrigued, watched her carefully. Her arm still hurt.
“One more thing. She said she was like her grandmother, er ‘took the mantle from her grandmother,’ was what she said. You may want to check your records if they go back that far.”
“Thank you. Did you see where she went?”
“No. Obviously I didn’t. I wasn’t there. My acquaintance, the one who told me this, left before she did. She, er he, he was there on his own business and had an urgent call so had to leave early. You need to check out that woman though.”
Betsy abruptly turned and walked back to the group who continued to the outside. Billie had to run to catch up as she tried to digest this information.
Before reaching the outside, both Faeryfaye and Betsy stiffened and each gave an audible intake of breath.
“What’s the matter?” asked Billie.
“There’s been a new God created. Just now,” answered Betsy. “Female...”
“No,” answered Faeryfaye, who was more attuned to these things than Betsy. “Not female but not male either. It’s both, combined, but it’s not hermaphroditic. It’s one of those.”
“Yes,” said Betsy after a pause.
“Is it close? Is it going to be a problem?” This was from Billie.
“No,” said Faeryfaye. “It’s a long way away, that way,” she pointed.
“Kansas,” amplified Betsy, who, unlike Faeryfaye, had memorised the maps of the USA. “Specifically Kansas University.”
“Does this God have a name?” Billie was intrigued.
“Mindy,” answered Betsy.
“No, that’s what the creator’s called. The God’s called... Etrixi? What kind of a name is that?” Faeryfaye was worried. “Should we intervene, Betsy?”
“No, of course not. We’re far too busy here. Anyway, Etrixi’s been created out of lust. Let Mindy have her fun. From the look of her she needs it.”
“Not lust but orgasm. Lust is involved though. But she could die.” Faeryfaye was even more worried. She cared for everybody.
“Then she’ll die. We’ll intervene if it warrants an intervention. We can’t intervene in everything. We do have to be selective.”
Billie was also worried. “What will happen to Mindy and Etrixi?”
“No idea,” said Betsy. “we’ll deal with it if it becomes a problem. New Gods are rare but not unknown. We can’t be expected to deal with all of them. Anyway, they usually come to some accommodation with their circumstances and are just a local phenomenon.”
Robbie added her two penn’orth. “Are all Gods a problem?”
“No, of course not. A few are pains in the arse though. Watch out for those Roman and Greek ones. They’re viscious and need to be banished whenever they turn up. Otherwise they’ll try and take over. Those ones are also cunning as fuck and can hide themselves from honest folk like us,” said Betsy. Then she realised what she said. “But you know that already, don’t you? Be careful. You’re playing with fire.”
Robbie and Billie said nothing at this little explanation. They wanted to change the conversation. But Robbie had one more question. “Does this mean you two can read minds?”
Betsy laughed. “No, we can’t. Well, not normally,” she added to try and hide exactly what they could do. “But a new God makes an instantaneous big splash in the aether and everything gets transmitted all at once. The signal’s gone already and there’s nothing we can do to it or them unless we go there and investigate just the way you would do. We didn’t read their minds just then. Their minds were simply forced into ours.”
“Well, there’s nothing more to be said then,” said Robbie.
They were outside and Betsy was just about to mount the broom when Billie answered her phone. “Hold it,” she instructed. “There’s news from our two in the woods. Apparently that running battle with the evil ones is now in full swing again just outside the castle. Our two have found that tunnel you described and have gone in that way while our heroes do battle around the castle. And now that mist that’s been taking in and spitting out our mightiest heroes has reformed and has taken some sort of solid shape that’s vaguely humanoid. Massively humanoid, apparently.”
Betsy looked at Faeryfaye. “Have you sorted out the armaments controls on this thing? And is it armed? It must be.”
Robbie recorded this addition to her large file of evidence. She didn’t know what it was evidence of, but it was definitely evidence. She had also noted as ‘interesting’ that Betsy’s fingerprints no longer matched those in that warehouse.
“Yes and yes,” was the answer to Betsy’s question.
Betsy grinned. Now something was going her way. “Now you must acknowledge I’m the pilot. I have far more experience of armaments than you.”
Faeryfaye thought about this. Betsy forced herself to wait patiently. Faeryfaye took everything so seriously that it slowed her down. She should just do what she’s told and all would be well. “No, Betsy. What if you relapse during flight?”
Betsy fumed inwardly while presenting a calm exterior. Robbie noted this. “OK.Go up slowly this time. Point in the right direction then open the throttle. Slow down when we get there and we’ll assess the situation.” Betsy sat astride the broom behind Faeryfaye, who still sat sidesaddle. The broom was stationary just the right height from the ground. “Plus,” she added, “give us both a top up from the broom before we start. We used up a fair amount of power with that smirky godess woman.”
Faeryfaye looked puzzled but complied anyway.
Billie felt a headache coming on as well as starting to feel dizzy. She resolved to get a booster as soon as these two left.
The broom rose slowly without warning and Betsy held on tightly to Faeryfaye. Faeryfaye panicked because, all of a sudden, she couldn’t breathe. She slapped Betsy’s hands away from her waist and continued. Betsy held on to the broom shank itself. At cruising height Betsy had to point the way to Faeryfaye, which she did quickly, returning her hand to its position gripping the shank for dear life. Faeryfaye opened the throttle and suddenly they were there, approaching the castle in a power dive. Betsy’s screams were far behind them at all times and Fearyfaye never heard them. Betsy heard them in her mind, which was screaming in harmony with her voice. It was most disconcerting.
There was this big ugly thing just outside the castle with a lot of people round it fighting. Some were flying and fighting, but most were on the ground.
‘Perhaps we should have learnt who are the goodies before we came,’ thought Betsy. Faeryfaye wasn’t concerned with that. She was aiming for that monster, which she assumed was a baddie. Betsy peeked over her shoulder and agreed. It must be that thing that was confounding all the heroes. It looked familiar, but at this angle and speed, Betsy didn’t care to use vital brain power on wondering why it was familiar when she could be praying to every God she knew—yet again. After all, she was still here, wasn’t she? So at least one of them had heard and helped her last time. She hoped it was a Goddess. She fancied a Goddess to worship right now. Perhaps she could arrange a transfer from Loki. And thinking of Loki, how was he involved in all this? This madness was just his style.