tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Momentary Lapse of Ethics 01

A Momentary Lapse of Ethics 01

byFinalStand©

*It isn't a matter what you can do, but a matter of what you are prepared to do*

A little background: In the mythical place called the Tri-Cities which are a combination of New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.

-The Midnight Mask (deceased) the Tri-City's former defender; killed by the Eternal Flame.

-The Crimson Veil – Female leader of the Tri-City Alliance; former sidekick of the Midnight Mask.

-Technetronic – inventor and bankroll for the TCA; uses non-violent means to stop evil.

-Jackal Girl – Mystic female sleuth with the ability to turn into an Egyptian Jackal.

-T-Rex – Paleontologist with the ability to turn into a variety of dinosaur-like creatures.

-Lady Dynamic – newest member; a young, flying, super-strong heroine; sort of protégé of the Crimson Veil

Prelude:

"Veil, are you okay?" Lady Dynamic asked her mentor as the woman stumbled away from the punch. She'd never been able to land a solid blow on her before. Lady Dynamic went from elated to horrified in a matter of a second. Crimson Veil was superhuman in that she's at the max of human potential; she's not superhuman like bulletproof or anything like that.

"I'm okay. I slipped," she wheezed. "You go work out on the machines. I need to look over some of that data on that rash of robberies hitting the South Side."

Even Lady Dynamic could see that this is a dodge.

"Something is wrong with you, Crimson Veil. In the past few fights I've noticed you having ... problems, like you are dizzy or confused. Please, you can trust me."

Crimson Veil leaned against the wall and took off her trademark veil and hood. Lady Dynamic can never get over how stunningly beautiful she was with her dark skin and silky black hair with red highlights. Though I'm only a few years younger, 22 to 26, there is a gulf between them. Lady Dynamic was a product of an accident; the Crimson Veil has been training for this profession more than half her life.

Normally she was so intense and full of energy but for the past few months had seen to be getting more and more fatigued. Lady Dynamic was sure I'm not the only one who has noticed. Crimson Veil's gaze bore into her young protégé.

"Lady Dynamic, I'm dying. I have an inoperable brain tumor; I've maybe three months before I lose muscle control; in three more months I'll slip into a vegetative state. They say I can last a half year before I totally shut down," Crimson told her. "I don't want to go out like that."

"We can help you," Lady Dynamic pleaded. "We can pay for something, Jackal can search magical tomes; we have to do something."

"Been there, done that Kid," Crimson smiled at her. "Technetronic has been working on my problem and there is no good news. Apparently bunches of old Egyptian gods don't have anything invested in my well-being either. I have to accept that this is one thing I'm not going to beat. That is why I want you to be ready. One day I hope you can lead this team."

"Me?!? I just got here," Lady Dynamic gasped.

"Think about it Lady Dynamic; even with their more experience, who has leadership potential. Leadership is more than a padded job resume. It is a spark you have to possess inside, and you have it. Believe me, if you keep your confidence, you can lead them and do a good job. Trust your gut."

"I ..."

"If you aren't going to listen to me and head to the machines I suggest we get back to your training. I'm feeling better now and don't even think of taking it easy on me," she grinned. Lady Dynamic backed away from the Crimson Veil and got ready for my next lesson. Crimson Veil cleaned her clock like she normal did. On her best day did Lady Dynamic feel that she was not half the woman Crimson Veil was.

(Present Day's Night)

Lady Dynamic plowed RazorClaw into the support beam and heard something make a satisfying crunch. Her costume was toast because Razor transformed into a living equivalent of razor wire, but her skin was tougher. She smashed her fist into what looked like his face and he squealed. Somewhere off to her left Crimson Veil was dodging Psychic King, leader of the Regents of Wrath.

T-Rex was outside dealing with their standard army of minions conjured by Ghost Wail because fighting inside wasn't his forte. Jackal Girl and Princess Bloodstone were behind Lady Dynamic, mystic energies arcing across the room. She knew that fight wasn't going well; Jackal was a subtle sorceress while Bloodstone had the Fat-Crackling Power of the Dark Gods. Like Lady Dynamic, Technetronic was stomping on the Digital Duke. All they needed was a little break.

Jackal Girl screamed and Lady Dynamic felt a soul-burning fire rip through her – and RazorClaw. He turned into a smoldering coil of wire and twisted metal at her feet. Lady Dynamic spun around to see Jackal Girl slumped down in front of Princess Bloodstone. Lady Dynamic rushed to Bloodstone but the bitch lashed out and a red lash of energy constricted around her neck and lifted her off the ground.

Lady Dynamic caught movement out of the corner of her eye. There was a costumed person in a faceless fully white bodysuit with a strange red symbol on his chest. Lady Dynamic was still trying to figure which side this guy was on when Bloodstone noticed him. She gave him that much, the guy had a bit of stealth.

Princess Bloodstone lashed down at him with her ruby nailed fingers encased in her Bloodstone mystic energy. He blocked the blow at the wrist and Bloodstone howled. The fire on that hand went out. She lashed with her other hand with identical results.

"What have you done to me?" she screamed in rage.

The man in white responds by putting his hands on her over-sized breasts and leaving them there.

"How dare you!" she screamed, "I ll ...ll ... aha ...ah ... uh, uh ugh ...ugh ... Goddess's!!!!"

Princess Bloodstone fell to her knees. The energy holding Lady Dynamic collapsed and she landed in a crouch. She started running toward Princess Bloodstone for a finishing blow when the man in white held up a hand to stop her. Considering he'd just saved their lives she halted. He helped Princess Bloodstone to her feet with way more kindness than she deserved.

"It is time for you to go now," he whispered to Princess Bloodstone who gave him a weak nod and staggered for the hole in the wall.

"What ... we can't just let her go," Lady Dynamic declared to the man. He looked at her then knelt over Jackal Girl. He ran a hand down from her ear to her collarbone and she stirred. Jackal Girl looked up him and stared at the man then past him to Lady Dynamic.

"What happened?" Jackal asked.

Lady Dynamic looked around and saw that the fight had ended during her confusion. They'd won the day but the villains had exited minus a good number of minions.

"Thank you," Jackal told the stranger as he helped her up.

Lady Dynamic put a hand on the man's shoulder who then turned and regarded her.

"Okay now, who are you and what did you do to Princess Bloodstone?" she demanded.

"Well, I blocked her powers to her hands then because her mind was shielded from sleep effects so I gave her an intense orgasm instead," he says in one of the best bedroom voices she'd ever heard and she got the feeling he normally talked this way.

"Doctor Life," Crimson Veil said by way of a greeting.

"Crimson Veil," he bowed.

"Doctor Life senses life energy and heals people. It's his thing; that and he tries to never harm anyone, be they heroes or villains. That's got him in trouble in other places," Crimson explained.

"That's right; I never turn down a person in need," Doctor Life added. "Sometimes the authorities take a dim view of that. The villain profession sometime takes exception as well. Somehow crippling a nemesis for life means a lot less when I'm around and you know how villains can be about their vengeance."

"Do you want to join the team?" asked Jackal girl. "My shoulder feels great."

"I'm not sure how much of an asset would be," the man joked.

"You have my vote," Technetronic piped in.

"Are you an actual Doctor?" T-Rex asked.

"You would be welcome," Crimson Veil offered.

"I want to keep my private life private, T-Rex, but I'd like to consider the offer if I may," Dr. Life answered.

"Doc, what is that symbol on your chest," Lady Dynamic inquired.

"The Caduceus, the adopted symbol of the healer," he 'grinned' behind his mask.

"What brings you to the Tri-Cities," Crimson asked.

"Big enough to live in peace, the right size to do some good," Life answered as sirens close in the distance.

"I should be going," Dr. Life told them. Crimson gave him the nod and the man slipped away.

"Man he's quiet," T-Rex commented.

"He controls his own life energy," Crimson said. "It allows him to be extra stealthy as well as regenerate. Now let's figure out how to explain all this damage after we set an ambush." There were groans all around.

(Later at Alliance HQ)

"So that is our HQ Dr. Life," Crimson told him. "We are still putting things together. This place is a bit more advanced than the basement the Midnight Mask and I worked out of."

"I know the feeling. I started by sneaking out of my home during high school. My secret lair was a scrap book underneath my bed." Crimson laughed which was the first real laugh Lady Dynamic had heard from the Crimson Veil in weeks.

"Those were good times," Crimson chuckled. "I remember my first mugging. Boy was that embarrassing and painful. Hell, I was twelve."

"I was thirteen when I started," Life informed her, "I also remember when I ran into my first robot."

"Robot?" Crimson asked then shook her head, "Not much life force to use, eh?"

"Nope; I had to bury my clothes they were so messed up. There was no way I could convince Mom that I'd been in a bike-riding accident," Life joked.

"Let's talk in private for a moment please," Crimson asked. They moved off and Lady Dynamic found herself sneaking behind them. That she succeed is evidence that Crimson was not at her best.

"What do you think?" she inquired out of the blue.

"Oh those ... four months at the outside; I'm sorry," he responded.

"Is there anything that you can ... to ease me along" she hesitated.

"Since you know about me you know that I can't; I just can't," he confessed.

"I understand, believe me. We all live by our Codes. Thanks for your honesty Dr. Life. Do you think you can stick around and help out ... you know," she asked.

"I'll do my best," he replied. "I know this can't be easy. If you need help coping with the pain, I can help with that." Lady Dynamic couldn't hear a response, but she had a nucleus of a plan.

"Jackal Girl!" Lady Dynamic all but shouted over the phone, "I need a favor."

"What's up, Lady Dynamic?" the super-sleuth grinned.

"I want you to find the home of Dr. Life."

"1029 Morningside Lane," Jackal said without preamble.

"How did you know?"

"He's in the database Dynamic. We put it in his vitals this afternoon. He doesn't have a secret identity as much as a private life. Are you going to disturb him," Jackal Girl asked.

"I need to talk to him about something," Lady Dynamic sort of told the truth.

"You aren't going to piss him off are you? He only agreed to join us this morning."

"I ... I don't think so," Lady Dynamic lied. She planned to get some answers.

"Do you need help?" Jackal offered.

"No, I think I need to handle this alone," Lady Dynamic answered. If Jackal Girl knew why she was going, she's probably was going to try and stop her.

(Later)

"Hey Lady Dynamic," said the handsome man who answers the door at 1029 Morningside Lane. It is a nice dwelling that was either a large house or a small mansion. Since she was in her civilian identity she was a bit surprised.

"How did you know?" she blurted out.

"I sense life energy – it is sort of like a fingerprint; unique to the individual," he explained. He stepped by and lets her in. Lady Dynamic walked inside and looked around the place. He's had an understated sense of wealth. He noticed her gaze.

"I'm a successful doctor."

"Well, that's not why I'm here. Doctor Life ..."

"Conrad; my name is Conrad St. John," he told her.

"Conrad, I want to know why you aren't helping the Crimson Veil. I have the feeling you can."

"Is this were you prove to be the plucky, optimistic grad-student who was caught in an explosion and now is being mentored by the experienced yet doomed veteran?" he stated.

"What? How did you ..."

"It happens more often than you would believe," Life sighed. "Still, to answer your question I will ask you one of my own and I want you to think it over, because I know you are a smart woman. If you had the power to save a life, any life, where would you stop?"

"What? I ... so you really can save her but you've decided not to? But she's a heroine. She saves lives," Lady Dynamic begged.

"So Crimson Veil gets to live but Timothy Vernon doesn't because she's heroic and he's a normal kid dying of leukemia," he informed her. She was clearly conflicted.

"So now I'm saving Crimson Veil and Timothy – what about Kate Winslow, who was hit by a drunk driver and is in a coma? Lady Dynamic, where do I stop?" he continued.

"Oh ..." She had no answer to that because, damn him, she could see where he's going with this.

"And Crimson Veil knows this and is willing to die knowing that you can save her?" She nearly cried.

"She's a hero. She understands my code of ethics. She knows what it will cost me. I choose to save things done to people, but not what happens naturally, so Kate will awaken from her coma in a few days when my powers have worked on her subtly enough for no one to suspect. Timothy – and Crimson Veil will die unless some other force intervenes.

"I know you don't know me, and you don't owe me, but I'm begging you, please save her," Lady Dynamic pleaded.

"And if I save her, what do you do the next time you find someone else who I can save if only you beg me for help. Do you beg for their life as well? Do I listen? How do you feel about it if I let them die after saving her?"

"You have been at this a long time, haven't you, and I'm probably not the first person you've have had this conversation with, right?" Lady Dynamic asked sadly.

"Lady Dynamic, I've been living with this knowledge since I was thirteen and I'm now older than I look. Yes, you are not the first person to have this conversation. When I started out I gave in a lot and I saw what that got me – many angry desperate people."

"Because if you save that guy's loved one, why don't you save mine ... well fuck," she groaned. "Is there anything I can do to save her?" He reached out and stroked her arm and for a second she wondered if he was hitting on her.

"You are a good friend and I want you to know that you've proved that by coming here. Don't feel bad about not succeeding," he comforted her.

She saw a well of sympathy in his eyes. Damn it, how many people had he let slip through his fingers because he knew he had his limits? Lady Dynamic was suddenly glad all she could do was punch things.

"I haven't driven you off the team, have I? I'd hate to do that to my teammates."

"No, we are good. I half expected it: spunky grad-student and all," he smiled. He showed her out with kindness and she couldn't find it in herself to be angry with him. Instead Lady Dynamic felt like someone has stomped on her soul. She felt she could save Crimson if she was only smarter.

(A month later)

It has been a bad night. The Regents of Wrath had beaten them pretty bad. Technetronic and Crimson Veil were in the hospital. Lady Jackal and Dr. Life were also beaten pretty badly. Lady Dynamic was face-planted into the Bay and by the time she got back to shore it was pretty much over. They had lost some sort of nano-tech project that bordered on Artificial Intelligence – not something they wanted to see the Regents with.

Once they got Dr. Life conscious he healed himself and then Lady Jackal. Technetronic took some time for Dr. Life to heal. The team was talking to the cops when Crimson Veil came staggering down the hallway. Lady Dynamic ran to Crimson and caught her before she keeled over.

"What happened?" she asked weakly.

"We got taken down," T-Rex confessed. "We couldn't stop them."

"Crap; what is our status? I passed Technetronic in the ICU. He'll be out in a minute. Where is Doctor Life?" she inquired.

"We left him with you," Jackal Girl told the Crimson Veil.

"How bad was I?" Crimson Veil asked suspiciously.

"You were pretty bad," Lady Dynamic responded. "You ..."

"I had an episode?" she asked.

"Yes," T-Rex answered. Crimson Veil staggered. "They said ... you had a brain ... the impact caused things to progress faster than we thought."

"Oh crap," she whispered.

"They weren't sure you would wake up," Lady Dynamic told her.

"And you let him heal me?" she groaned.

"What's wrong?" Lady Dynamic questioned.

"Lady Dynamic, Doctor Life doesn't just heal wounds; he's an empathic healer. He takes on the wounds of people he helps and then his own life force fixes the damage," Crimson Veil informed the team.

"But ..." Jackal Girl said softly.

"I had a terminal condition. He took that on to himself in order to save me," Crimson Veil murmured. Suddenly Lady Dynamic felt like a total heel. He'd told her there was a price for healing; she had thought it was psychological, not physical. She'd never asked. Now she had to find him and figure out a way for him not to die.

They sent Lady Dynamic on to his place while the others spread out over the city trying to find places between the hospital and home he might have ended up. She was wondering where he'd placed his key when she noticed him leaning against the porch beside her.

"Dr. Life ... Conrad ... let me take you ..." she stammered.

"There is no place to take me that would do any good," he ground out through the pain.

"Why in the hell didn't you say something to me?" Lady Dynamic accused him.

"And what; make you have to decide between my life and the Crimson Veil's? That hardly seems fair to you. She's your friend and you hardly know me, yet if I die could you possibly forgive yourself?"

"Oh, you bastard," she whispered. "You always planned to heal her. You let me go through all those mental convolutions for nothing."

"Not for nothing, but if it makes you feel better the deception was never aimed at you," he confessed. "I had to get the Crimson Veil in a position where she couldn't resist my efforts. Taking away her tumors took a great deal of time – something you know she would never have given me willingly."

"Thank you," Lady Dynamic told him.

"Can we get inside now? I really feel like crap," he told her.

"Are you going to die?" she asked.

"I don't know. I've never done anything so critical; I sort of need my brain to function. I figure the next hour will decide things. I can tell you this much: the Crimson Veil is something else for working with this much pain."

"I agree with that. She's something else."

"Help me inside please and let the others know you've found me and they can stop looking. I don't want a great deal of company right now," he requested. She took his keys and led the good doctor inside his house to the closest sofa.

"Can I get you anything?" she inquired.

"A few aspirin and some milk."

"You drink milk – really?" Lady Dynamic teased him. He tried to smile but he was clearly in pain.

"When you can see the effect that food has on the body, you tend to eat healthy," he told her.

She head to the kitchen and make some calls. Crimson Veil wanted to come over, but Lady Dynamic asked her what the point would be and for the first time in Lady Dynamic's career she told her she was right. They had to track down the Regents of Wrath now but she wanted Lady Dynamic to stay where she was. He was unconscious when she got back to the den. He was burning up and unresponsive. Lady Dynamic didn't know what else to do except put his head in her lap and stroke his hair.

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