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Maid of Steel – Defeated

“Wait,” Vivian said. “You know the guy?” Kelly nodded. “Why does he know your true identity?”

“It’s complicated.” Kelly tossed her hands and looked at the sky. “When I was younger, I went to work with my dad. A take you kid to work thing. There was an accident. Me and several other kids were coated with chemicals.”

“Is that how you got your powers?” A squeaking noise followed the question. Vivian leaned forward, her glassy eyes never leaving Kelly’s. Her face flushed as she nodded in rapid succession and her entire body vibrated.

“No,” Kelly answered, her eyes narrowed as she turned sideways. “We were rushed to a medical facility for cleaning and treatment. However, the chemicals had done something to me. When they ran me through the MRI machine, I blacked out.”

“And that’s how you got your powers,” Vivian said, louder than before. Her smile stretched showing large amounts of perfect teeth.

“I guess,” Kelly said. “I blacked out and don’t really know. When I woke up, three days later, I didn’t feel any different.” She sighed and went quiet for a beat. “In the same ward was another young kid, Bartholomew Harris. He was in the bed next to me. Like me, the doctors probed him. Over the next week, we became friends. When the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with us, they let us go. My powers manifested the following month. I showed Barty I could fly and how strong I was. He got mad when he couldn’t do those things. Instead, he developed an eidetic memory. Plus, he could perform astrophysics without a calculator or computer. That was all I knew at that time.”

“So how did he become a villain?” Vivian stood, taking in all the information. SYMON pulsated as well.

“I don’t really know,” Kelly said. “He would always refer to my abilities in a negative way or comment how I should use them to get an advantage over others. It was different and dark. I slowly stopped hanging out and then talking to him. We drifted apart.”

“I still don’t see how remembering everything and doing math is a superpower,” Vivian said. “I mean, maybe if he were a school teacher or something.”

“With his higher functioning brain,” SYMON chimed in. “He is able to analyze events and predict the future. Or at least direct a probable outcome that favors what he wants. Additionally, he might be able to figure out the answer to other questions dealing with technology. Essentially his guesses are more accurate.”

“That’s not really a power,” Vivian said.

“He could make weapons or other technology that would be like a superpower,” Kelly said. “He possibly made that device that Scimitar used to enhance himself.”

“Fine,” Vivian said with an eye roll. “He has super powers.”

“SYMON, would you please list the possible locations?” Kelly looked at the now yellow bracelet on Vivian’s arm.

“Yes,” SYMON answered. “The first south of here. It is on the far end of the industrial district. Several interstates and there is a train station nearby.”

“Next, please.” Kelly tapped her chin as her eyes lost focus on her surroundings.

“On the north end, there are several overpasses, two train lines. Only one train station but it is only for the two lines.”

“Is there a lighthouse near that one?” Kelly pointed at SYMON and noticed it had turned blue.

“Yes,” came the immediate answer. “It is four point three two five miles away.”

“That is the one.” Kelly walked towards the ER doors and into the later afternoon sunshine.

“How do you know?” Vivian followed at a trot.

“Barty and I were friends,” Kelly said. “He used to draw lighthouses and talked about the view from them. If given the opportunity, he will be near it.”

“What about the third location?” Vivian held her wrist a head height. “Shouldn’t we check it just to be sure.”

“There is no lighthouse near that location,” SYMON’s deadpan voice answered.

“You can check it if you want,” Kelly said as she hovered. “I’m going to put an end to this.” She fisted a hand and flew into the air.

“Crap,” Vivian said and followed. “She better be right.”

“These events were never covered in any documents about Cobalt,” SYMON said, swapping to a deep purple color. “Not even by word of mouth.”

“She lives on long after this time,” Vivian said to the wrist device.

“That was before encountering you.” SYMON switched color to onyx. “You weren’t supposed to interact with Cobalt except in passing. You have done that. Now, you have changed the timeline.”

“No,” Vivian said as she shook her head. “I can’t have changed it that bad, if even at all.”

“We have no way of determining that.” SYMON stayed at the dark color. “Unless we go back.”

“We have another month before the recall is activated,” Vivian said. “We’ll have to wait it out see what happens.”

“If our time even exists now,” SYMON said.

The sound of wind echoed around Vivian as she followed Kelly, her face blanked and she swallowed hard.

After several minutes of flying, Kelly slowed and descended. Both her feet touched down and she walked across the parking lot to the open double doors. Vivian imitated her and caught up.

“What’s the plan?” Vivian glanced around as they entered the open doors.

“I don’t have one,” Kelly said as she walked into the open space. “Barty!” Kelly stopped and looked around. Her eyes went high, to the large glass orb attached to the wall across the way. “Barty. I know you’re here.”

“Well, now,” a tinny voice said over an amplified intercom. “What brings the mighty Cobalt to my lowly science lab? Oh, I see you have a sidekick.”

“I’m no sidekick,” Vivian said.

“Stop it, Barty,” Kelly said. “You know why I’m here. It makes sense that you kept tabs on Scimitar. You know where he I took him.”

“I do,” the voice said. “And it’s about time you decided to use your brain over your brawn.”

“Look, Barty,” Kelly put her hands on her hips and sighed. “I’m not up for banter at the moment. I’m just here to arrest you.”

“You don’t have that ability,” spat the voice over the intercom. “You refused to be a part of the police department when they asked you.”

“We can take this creep,” Vivian said in a sharp whisper. “There’s two of us and just one of him.”

“And a lab of equipment that he made,” SYMON said. Vivian took the opportunity to survey the floor and tables around her. Some items looked deadly, others looked innocuous. There was an orange fire extinguisher looking item on the closest table. A radioactive sticker along with a biological contaminate indicator adorned the face-up label.

“So are you going to come quietly,” Kelly asked as she reached for something at her hip. “Or do I get to use my secret weapon?”

“You don’t use weapons,” the voice said. A door opened across the way and a man stepped through. He walked at a fast pace as he navigated the tables and various items. Several times he picked an item up and placed it in a different location as he passed it.

As he approached, Vivian made out different features. The man had deep-set eyes, flat hair that did extend past his neck and a round face with ears that stuck out. An attempt at a mustache adorned the upper lip of a small mouth.

The food stained blue t-shirt hung from hunched shoulders. His toothpick arms protruded through the large sleeves. Baggy pants with bulging pockets and a too-tight belt covered legs that ended in flappy feet with sandals.

“That guy reeks of loser,” Vivian muttered loud enough for Kelly to hear.

SYMON blinked and let out a hissing, “sshhhhhh.”

Kelly’s eyes slid sideways at Vivian and her lips tightened.

Kelly redirected her attention to the approaching man. “Does this mean you are surrendering?”

Barty reached out and picked up a large pistol shaped device and aimed it at Cobalt. “No. Every device here has a capacity to kill you.”

“They do,” Kelly said and pulled the item from her belt, keeping it in her hand. “But do you?”

“What?” Bart lowered the pistol in his hand.

“Fine,” Kelly said. “You’ve had enough time.” She brought the device up and flicked her thumb across it, then tapped on the screen in a fluid motion.

“What is that?” Barty brought the pistol up to eye level.

“Hello,” Kelly said. “Mrs. Harris? Yes, this is Kelly Davies. Yes, I know we talked last week.”

“What?” Barty dropped the pistol to the ground where it clattered away under a table. His face contorted into a scowl and both arms hung limply at his sides.

“Who are you calling?” Vivian turned to face Kelly directly.

Kelly held her hand up with an index finger fully extended.

“I’m calling to let you know I found Barty,” Kelly said. “He’s standing right in front of me. You said he hasn’t called you in over five years. I find that reprehensible.”

“You called his mom?” Vivian looked at Kelly and a smile spread across her face. It morphed into an opened mouth laugh as she turned, spotting a red-faced Barty Harris standing with his mouth hanging to the floor.

“I don’t believe you!” Barty stomped his foot and reached for a device on a nearby table.

“Sure, I’ll hand him the phone.” Kelly pulled the phone away from her ear and extended it to Barty, who halted in this motions. “It’s your mom. She wants to talk to you.”

“Bartholomew Maxwell Harris!” The tiny voice carried a ton of weight even though it came from the earpiece of a cell phone. “You take this phone right this instant young man. I’m your mother and you will talk to me.”

With an echoing clunk, Barty dropped the equipment he was assembling. His shoulders hunched even more as his hung to mid chest. Shuffling to where the duo stood, he reached for the phone.

“Mommy?”

Mommy,” Vivian said, trying to hold in a laugh with a hand. Her knees buckled and she rolled to the floor. “Mommy. He still uses mommy.”

“Stop it,” Kelly said. She waited for Barty to finish talking.

“She started it,” Barty said pointing and looking at Kelly. “I know she’s a girl and I’m a super genius, but—” He swallowed at the voice sounded on the phone, but was garbled by the distance. “She’s big too. And—” He stopped talking. “But—” His mouth was open but no noise came out. “I am. I’m a big boy.” The tone of his voice dropped and he looked at his feet. “I know.” He nodded. “I will. I love you too. Bye.” Sliding a finger on the surface of the phone he hung up. As he handed the phone back to Kelly he muttered something.

“I didn’t hear that,” Kelly said and cocked her head to the side.

“I’m sorry.” Barty’s voice carried more weight, even though his chin touched his chest and she shuffled back a step. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. You just stopped talking to me.”

“Barty,” Kelly said. “You were mean. You were treating me like the other kids treated you. How do you think that made me feel?”

“Sad,” Barty answered. “I know that feeling. Left out, too.”

“Exactly,” Kelly said. “When the kids did that to you, what did your mother tell you?”

“To not talk to them,” Barty said, looking at different spots around his lab. “So I get it.”

“Good,” Kelly said. “I expect your help in cleaning up Harbor City. Especially with the Scimitar mess.”

“That’s on him,” Barty said. “I can’t control what someone else does.”

“Hey,” Vivian said, regaining her feet. “He wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t brought him here.”

Barty’s eyes moved as did his mouth, but nothing came out. After several moments he rolled his eyes and shrugged. “You’re right. I’ll help. But I don’t have to like it.”

“No one’s asking you to,” Kelly said.

“Does that mean we can go on a date?” Barty raised his head and his eyebrows. The smile brightened his entire face.

“We’ve gone over that,” Kelly said. “I don’t like you that way.”

“Yeah,” Barty said, shrinking down. “You like Vic Heinz, the quarterback.”

“Not so much anymore,” Kelly said. “I’m not really in the market for a boyfriend at the moment.”

“There’s still a chance,” Barty said. “I can work with that.”

“Whatever,” Kelly said. “We’re leaving now. You better keep your word, Barty.”

“I will.”

The ladies left the warehouse lab. They landed on a rooftop several miles away.

“So, what happens now?” Vivian looked at Kelly.

“I don’t know,” Kelly answered. “You should probably go back to your own time.”

“I can’t, yet.” Vivian shrugged. “There is supposed to be a recall in a month, then I will go back.”

“What do you mean supposed to?”

“Well,” Vivian said, lifting her eyebrows and tightening her mouth. “You and I weren’t supposed to interact this much. According to SYMON, I’ve altered the timeline.”

“I don’t understand,” Kelly said. “Will the recall happen or not?”

“I don’t know,” Vivian said. “If it does, I’m going back to a different timeline. If it doesn’t—”

“We are stuck here,” SYMON finished for her. “Perhaps we can convince Mr. Harris to send us back if that is the case.”

“If that doesn’t work,” Kelly said. “I could use help around here. They treat me like a maid and I can’t stand it. Besides, with two of us, we can take breaks as needed.”

“You mean it?” Vivian’s eyes shot wide and her lips trembled into a smile revealing plenty of teeth. The high-pitched noise sounded again. “I could be your sidekick? That would be awesome!”

“Not sidekick,” Kelly said. “Partner.” She extended a gloved hand.

Vivian batted the hand aside and jumped into Kelly’s personal space. “Yes!” She wrapped her arms around the woman and hugged her tight. “Yes! Finally, I’m a superhero.”

Published inshort storySuper ShortsSuperhero

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