Betsy Visits River City.
Sonia returned to Vicky after a sound and undisturbed sleep and a good breakfast. She was feeling on top of the world when she entered Vicky’s room.
Vicky wasn’t feeling so good. Her arms and legs were restrained and she had to sleep on her back the whole night. She didn’t like that and she let that dislike show through.
“What now?” Vicky asked.
“Well, you tell me everything you know,” answered Sonia, while gesturing Vicky to continue. She then removed an instrument from her bag and checked it. She then walked silently back to the door.
Vicky could take a hint and continued arguing and launched into a set of specific Essex swearwords, that confounded all but Essex girls. Sonia returned after listening at the door.
“OK,” said Sonia quietly, as she started to remove the straps holding Vicky down. Vicky wondered what sort of trap this was. At the moment, she liked what was happening.
“I’m going to free you Vicky. There’s no charge, but, I would prefer you didn’t attack me, at least in the near future. If you feel up to it, I’d appreciate it if you heard me out about a project I have which, I think, you can help me with.”
Vicky was free now, and Sonia was removing the strapping around her thumbs.
“How much time do we have?” she asked. “And why do you trust me?”
“I’ve arranged for us to be alone together for a few hours, so we needn’t worry immediately. As for trusting you, well, I’ve checked and rechecked your records and I conclude you’re an honest person. Actually, your honesty is borderline OCD. There are occasions when you feel compelled to ‘return a favour.’”
Vicky sat down and rubbed her hands. “What records?”
Sonia smiled. “Three Fingers is a highly efficient organisation. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that most people don’t know about and they take care to keep it that way. They have had you analysed based on everything they have concerning you, which, to set your mind at ease, is only what you suspect. Mostly the recordings of you and your companions in the night club and your reactions there and soon after. They also requested, and got, The Franchise’s recordings of you escaping from their attempted acquisition of you in Paris. And, to set your mind at ease, you were chosen randomly for that. It was a test of their new system, not an attack on you personally, or your company. Three Fingers’ psychologists have analysed that all ways. And I have records from the clinic as well.”
“Oh yes? I don’t believe they would have released those.”
“They didn’t. I snuck in and copied them. I did that for my own use and no one else has seen them.”
“Your own use being this?”
“And what do you want from me?”
“Well, I want you to help me find a person. A person I’ve been searching for for years, in between my other jobs and the surveillance The Franchise has over me at all times.”
“Why do you want to find this person?”
‘Back to basics,’ thought Vicky. “You’ll have to explain more.”
Sonia smiled. “Alicia Travistock was the one who sold me to The Franchise in the first place. I was to be a sex slave but they discovered I’m immune to mind control, as I think you already know.” Vicky nodded. “Once The Franchise discovered that, I became an item of interest and I was their test study for years. During that time I managed to insinuate myself into their systems and become valuable to them. So they trained me as an active operative. And here I am.”
“Do you know what happened to Alicia Travistock”
“No. The Franchise accepted her as a manager and, later on, transferred her somewhere else. There was some gossip about that there was something fishy about her transfer, but I think it was to separate her from me geographically as I was becoming very good at what I do by then and they knew I wanted to kill her.”
“Do you still want to kill her?”
“Maybe. Depends what she’s doing now and how many lives she’s ruined. It’s possible I won’t kill her.”
“But not probable?”
Vicky considered her position. She was now free and that borderline OCD about paying debts was very true. But, she wasn’t ruled by it. She had not gone that way a number of times before and could do it again if necessary. But it cost her. It cost her a lot. It was so much easier to go with the flow and have an easy conscience.
“My priorities, right now, are to rescue Pearl Girl, if she’s still alive, and to stop Dr. Orlof and his gang. I’ll kill them if I can get away with it. Is that a deal breaker? It is for me.”
“I’m fine with that. I did assume there would be something immediate like that when I came here. I’m also prepared to help you, but that’s a straight quid pro quo. I help you there and you help me.”
Vicky thought again. She really didn’t want to do this. She wanted Pearl Girl. Could she have both? She did owe Sonia, so she would have to consider her request seriously.
“I do have a problem with this,” said Vicky eventually. “Assuming we get out of here, I want a few months to myself. Can you live with that?” She wasn’t going to tell her she was smitten with Pearl. That could leave Pearl as a hostage somewhere down the line.
Sonia stared into Vicky’s eyes. “How many months?”
Vicky thought long and hard on this question. If she could get in with Pearl, they could be together for about three months. That was typically how long Sonia’s infatuations lasted. But Pearl was different and she was now forced to confront this disconcerting fact. Then again, Pearl was a super hero in her own right. She would understand. Vicky analysed her options as coming down to either doing the dirty on Sonia or helping her. If she did the dirty she would have to kill her, and that was poor payment for what she’s already done. Vicky decided she wasn’t going to tell Sonia about how she thought of Pearl, but…
“Make it no more than three months from when all this settles down,” she said with finality. Decision made. Good. It gave her a reasonable time frame plus a good chance to continue with Pearl if Pearl agreed. In fact, Pearl might even join them, but she mustn’t even consider that as an option right now.
Sonia thought on that a while. “OK. Deal.” She eventually said and held out her hand. Vicky took it.
“Now, as we’re now partners, how did Three Fingers recognise me from a photo? I went to a lot of bother to change my appearance.”
Sonia answered, “Dr Orlof sent us a small video of you walking as well as the pictures. Our software identified you from that. Your movement profile as well as the measurements of your bone structure identified you.”
Vicky nodded. “Thats a problem. I’ll have to send that info back as soon as I can.”
“Fine by me. Is it true you can shape shift? That’s the conclusion Three Fingers came to.”
Vicky hesitated for a moment. This was becoming intense and she didn’t like sharing this sort of detail. But, she rationalised it was only confirmation anyway. “Yes,” she answered. “But it’s not instantaneous. I need a few days to change things around, and I only change my soft tissue. Changing bone structure takes a lot longer. Too much longer normally.”
Sonia nodded. “And what’s your real name?”
“Susan Vicky Ketteridge.”
Vicky looked uncomfortable. Sonia decided to push it. After all, she had disclosed enough information to get her killed, if she was lucky.
“And Vicky is short for Victoria?”
Vicky blushed, a reaction Sonia wasn’t expecting, but she kept a straight face. Vicky lent forward and whispered her full name to Sonia.
Sonia was extensively trained and treated the information as what it was, a sharing of secrets between partners. A bonding ritual. A commitment.
“Thank you,” she said and never referred to it again.
Sonia continued, “What now then? You know the options here better than me right now.”
Vicky had already been through this many times during her enforced idleness. “I don’t know what’s happening with the supers. I do know Pearl has been injured and Ffanci said she was going to nurse her back to health. I’ve got to get Pearl back before that happens because of what Ffanci will do to Pearl then.”
“Pearl’s in the hospital here,” cut in Sonia. “She’s been operated on and it was a success. Ffanci is talking about another week of recuperation before she has her revenge. I don’t know what that revenge will be or what it’s for.”
Sonia hesitated before going on, “Do you know about TillyBetsy?”
“You should know about her. She just appeared recently apparently from one of Betsy’s machines…”
“Oh, you don’t know? Well, when Tilly was searching for Betsy in the city, she discovered a warehouse where Betsy had set up some machines and she had them transferred here. Nobody, not even Dr. Orlof, could work out what they were for. Then, a little while after Betsy was killed, TillyBetsy appeared next to Betsy’s machine. Basically, she has Betsy’s body but Tilly’s memories.”
Vicky held still for a while, then smiled. “Good. That means there’s a template for Betsy somewhere. I’ll make it my business to let ‘Her’ know Betsy was killed. ‘She’ should be able to clone her again. So, thanks for that. Pearl is OK for the moment and Betsy will be back. And we are up against all those bimbos right now. Do you know how many Dr. Orlof has?”
“He’s just received another batch. They’ll need training, but they do train up fast.”
Another few minutes thinking. Sonia didn’t interrupt.
“What about you? Have you burnt your boats with The Franchise and Three Fingers yet?”
“Good. If we can get them to think I’ve gotten out on my own accord, you may be able to go back without a stain on your character. That’ll give us a better opportunity of accessing their records. Is that viable?”
Sonia thought, “Yes,” she answered.
“Then let’s go for that right now and see if we can get away with it. How long are they expecting you to be in here?”
“As long as it takes. Say a maximum of six hours.”
“Can you go out in fifteen minutes and show those bimbos me lying here still restrained and beaten to within an inch of my life? And totally unable to move, never mind escape, then persuade them to leave me alone in here and just guard the door? How many are there outside, anyway?
“There are ten outside, but their attitude leaves a lot to be desired.”
“Don’t underestimate them. They always chatter and read and giggle, but they still do their job and do it well. Their main weakness is they have no initiative. They can’t work around their orders. Can you persuade them to leave me alone in here?”
Sonia thought about it. “Yes,” she eventually answered. “And showing you in that state will help a lot. Are you asking me to do that to you?”
“No. Certainly not,” Vicky was moving towards her rucksack, which had been left in the room along with the rest of her things. Sonia watched as she pulled out a couple of snack bars that looked homemade. Vicky started to eat them.
“These are disgusting, but they do work very well. Betsy made them and I’m going to use them against Dr. Orlof and his Merry Men. Or Merry Bimbos.”
Sonia looked puzzled.
“They’re designed as specific brain food. Controlling minds takes energy and it’s possible to run out.” She explained this as she chewed slowly and deliberately. “These bars will help me make those bimbos see what I want them to see but I’ll need at least an hour to be properly effective. I need to be careful about how many I eat though. There are unfortunate consequences if I eat too many too fast. Can you only let in one or two bimbos to check up on me?”
“Oh yes. That will be easy.”
“Good.” Vicky lay back on her frame without even trying to make it look like she was strapped in. “The situation is you’ve done me over good and proper and you’re leaving until tomorrow. That’ll give me a long time in agony to think things over before you resume your interrogation. Then you head off and make sure you have an alibi for at least the next couple of hours.”
Sonia looked at her watch. “It’s ten to. If I can get a bimbo to look in at you on the hour every hour, you’ll have the hour, or longer that you need. Can you deal with that first inspection? It’ll only be about ten minutes after I leave.”
“Yes. I can do that, especially if you limit the number of bimbos looking in the check on me.”
”OK. Leave that to me. This way you’ll have the hour or longer you need and it’s up to me to get myself an alibi for that time. I don’t see a problem with that.”
Vicky thought that through. “OK,” she said.
Where will you go?”
“I’ll get myself down to the trophy room. You know about that?”
Sonia shook her head.
“I assume it’s a trophy room. There are lots, hundreds at least, of globes down there and each one contains a person in a costume. Pearl recognised one or two from the past. I think Dr. Orlof captured them just to show them off or to gloat on his own. He doesn’t seem to have done anything else to them. They seem out of it, but still somehow alive. Now I’m going to see of I can free them, or as many as I can. I’ll leave a false trail out of the castle first though. That should give me all the time I need to figure out how to operate those globes. Your job is to remain as they think you are.” Vicky smiled. A tight evil smile. She was thinking of what she would do to Dr. Orlof and the rest. She had a good imagination.
Sonia was waiting outside when the two bimbos emerged from checking their charge.
“Ooooh, you were very rough. Would Dr. Orlof approve?” It was disconcerting when they giggled as they said that.
“Check with him if you’re worried. In fact, do it now then let me speak to him.”
That was an order, which sent shivers down to each of their pussies. Plus, it was an order they were permitted to obey. That was even better. The lead bimbo checked with Dr. Orlof on the internal line and had Sonia’s order confirmed. Then she handed the phone to Sonia.
“Dr. Orlof, you know the situation now. Vicky isn’t going anywhere soon. You know that. I don’t want anybody in that room. Not even a bimbo. I want Vicky to stew over things alone for a long time before I go back in. Order the bimbos not to go back in.”
Dr. Orlof hummed and hawed at that, as she expected. Eventually they came to the compromise of one bimbo looking in to see if Vicky was still there once every hour, just to be on the safe side. Vicky on her own had proved herself to be very resourceful and he didn’t want to take any chances this time.
That was eventually agreed and Sonia left for the common room where she was sure she would have company for the foreseeable future. She smiled the smile of someone who has waited a long time for this. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.
Sonia Watkins was in the middle of an interesting conversation with Ffanci about how to control minds through brain manipulation when the alarm sounded. Dr. Orlof came rushing into the common room and stared at Sonia.
“Vicky has escaped. What did you do?”
Sonia stared at him and replied angrily, “I left her restrained and incapable of escape. You had that checked. What did you do to let her escape?”
“You’re the difference here now. You saw her last.”
“Excuse me? You made certain I left her as I described.” She checked her watch. “And she should have had two checks by now. The deal is off if you’ve lost her. You seem to have a habit of losing your prisoners. I’ll be sure to detail that in my report.”
Dr. Orlof stared at her and made a visible effort to calm down. “All right then. This gets us nowhere.” He picked up the internal phone and called the head bimbo. He didn’t know which one that was as they seemed to rotate that role according to some internal rules or politics or whatever. He didn’t care as long as his will was done.
“Start an internal search for Vicky now. Make it the same as the last time, start at the bottom and work up. Get yourselves ready but don’t begin until Robot Man is ready. I’ll send it to the starting point.”
He ordered Ffanci to activate Robot Man and send it off to join the search. It was to concentrate on crumbs, which was the method Vicky was discovered last time. Dr. Orlof didn’t know the significance of this and, at the moment, didn’t care. It worked last time and that was good enough for him.
“I admit my bimbos checked out Vicky by sight twice before she was discovered missing. But that means nothing. I have reason to believe Vicky can evade discovery from the bimbos but not from Robot Man, so we’ll do this right right from the start.”
“What about the exits from the castle? I would check those out first,” opined Sonia.
“No. Vicky is sneaky. She’s quite capable of manufacturing evidence indicating she’s escaped while she’s hiding in the castle. I don’t know how long she’s been out and I’m not taking any chances. You hold off your report until we find her again.”
“Do you want my help?” asked Sonia, secretly worried at his thinking.
Dr. Orlof looked at her. He was suspicious of her now and wondered whether or not it was better to have her exactly where he could see her or have her out of the way somewhere and rely on his bimbos to ensure she stayed put. He eventually reasoned Vicky’s real problem would be Robot Man, not the bimbos, and he wanted more backup for it, so he reluctantly opted to trust Sonia.
“Yes, thank you. Will you please go with Robot Man and back it up. Grab the weapons you need and meet Robot Man before he starts the search. Just ask any bimbo you meet to direct you where that is.”
Dr. Orlof had final instructions for the bimbos when they all met up at the lowermost level.
“Bimbos, this is important. You remember the last search?”
Lots of giggles ensued and a chorus of “Yesses followed.
Dr. Orlof had to ask this time. “But most of you weren’t here when the last search took place. How can you remember that?”
More giggles happened, followed by some sort of high frequency sounds at speed, before they coalesced into one speaker. Dr. Orlof still had to figure out how they did that.
“No sir, most of the bimbos here weren’t here then, but they now have the thoughts of those that were, so they can think of it.”
A series of experiments immediately sprang unbidden into his mind, but he let them go for the moment, especially as his experiments required bimbos to sacrifice and he didn’t have enough right now.
“I shouldn’t have asked,” he commented before going on to the main event. “We’re going to search the castle again, just like last time. We’ll start here. Some of you will guard the corridor while others enter and search each room in turn.” He was repeating this to remind them, despite him being certain they didn’t need reminding, and to inform Sonia what was going to happen. “When you are searching, you will be looking for Vicky, but this time I also want you looking for crumbs as well. After each room has been searched, the bimbo searchers are to exit and guard the door and corridor while Robot Man searches it again. Sonia here will back up Robot Man. Do you all understand?”
There was a chorus of giggles and yesses as they affirmed their understanding.
“Then let’s get started.”
The bimbos sorted themselves out immediately and some went to the strategic points in the corridor and stood there while five bimbos entered the first room to search it. Sonia, Robot Man and Dr. Orlof remained outside.
“Why the second search?” asked Sonia.
“Because I think Vicky can, somehow, evade the bimbos’ search. However she does it, it doesn’t affect Robot Man. The bimbos go in first to draw out any surprise attack she may have planned. It’s not perfect and I don’t have time to devise anything better. It worked last time and that’s good enough for now.”
Sonia remained outwardly calm as they waited until the bimbos emerged and reported the room was clear of Vicky, but there were crumbs. Then Robot Man entered, followed by Sonia. Sonia stayed by the door and watched Robot Man search the room. He was methodical and thorough. Vicky didn’t have a chance if she was hiding in there. She wasn’t. Dr. Orlof went in and checked the crumbs. He told Sonia what he was doing so she could look out for crumbs as well. Vicky had been here, he was certain of that.
Then they searched the next room and found crumbs, and then the next, and found crumbs, and so on. Sonia wondered why Vicky had changed her plan.
After four hours of methodical searching, finding only crumbs in each room, Dr. Orlof told everybody to forget about looking for crumbs. Obviously Vicky had worked out they were a tell tale and had negated it. It was annoying, especially as he realised Vicky had been in every room so far without anyone seeing her. But the search continued.
Dr. Orlof called the main control room.
“Tilly here,” she answered.
Dr. Orlof told her of their progress and asked if they had seen anything. Tilly, Stewart and TillyBetsy were all there manning the screens. They reported they had seen nothing suspicious.
“We’re going into the trophy room next. It’s large, so we will be some time in there.”
“OK,” said Tilly. “We’ll keep watch here. The bimbos on the exits and at the various strategic points have reported nothing. And we’ve been watching them. They haven’t been subverted in any way we can see.” Those bimbos were there in such numbers that Vicky would have to attack them in order to get past. Even if they couldn’t see her, they would know something was happening and would report back and fight. Also, their watchers would also see and be able to target Vicky properly.
Sonia was impressed and worried by this level of competence as well as the painstaking way the search was carried out.
The trophy room didn’t yield Vicky, but it did yield indications, not crumbs, that she had been there. Tools were out and covers of control panels were off, but that was all. Dr. Orlof checked the whole system there thoroughly and determined nothing had been tampered with. They went on the the next room. And the next and on and on.
After six hours of searching, the bimbos emerged from a large storage area reporting that Vicky wasn’t there. Robot Man went in, followed by Sonia. Robot Man searched as usual, watched by Sonia just inside the door. Half way inside the room, Robot Man received a mighty blow from a crowbar to its head. It staggered, blood pouring from its wound despite its armour, but it stayed upright and went after Vicky. Vicky retreated while striking Robot Man whenever she could, but Robot Man was protecting its vulnerable areas and it had its armour on, so it started to gain on Vicky.
Dr. Orlof on hearing the commotion opened the door carefully and saw Sonia charge into the fray with her mace as weapon of choice for this encounter. He saw Sonia quite deliberately use the mace on Robot Man’s knee, which felled him, letting Vicky past him and towards the door. By now the bimbos were also inside the room and Vicky leapt at them and scattered them with her makeshift iron quarterstaff. Sonia saw that Dr. Orlof had seen her attack Robot Man and immediately leapt in and aided Vicky. They both made short shrift of the bimbos, and ran out of the room before the ground got too slippery with all the blood and body parts that was being splattered around. Outside they were confronted by Dr. Orlof and the rest of the bimbos at the end of the corridor and an alarm sounding.
Meanwhile, Tilly on watch had decided their position was critical enough to use the tannoy.
“Abandon the search,” Tilly’s voice echoed throughout the corridor. “It seems like all the super heroes are outside the castle right now fighting with all the super villains. And the villains have some sort of monster with them. They look to be winning, but the castle is very vulnerable right now. We have to defend it from the outside immediately.”
Dr. Orlof snarled the snarl of unrequited revenge and the frustration of a comic book coincidence that let Vicky escape again. He put his hand into the wall next to him, or it seemed that way to Vicky and Sonia, and pulled at something. Doors came down from the ceiling and cut them off. Vicky and Sonia ran up to them and tried to open them again, to no avail. After a few minutes’ attempt, they decided to leave it and try and release some of the trophy heroes. So they raced back to the trophy room. On the way back, they determined they were indeed trapped in the lower levels of the castle.