tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Momentary Lapse of Ethics 02

A Momentary Lapse of Ethics 02

byFinalStand©

*The difference between friendship and passion can be a matter of perception*

(A Week Later)

Crimson Veil danced past one of the shadow puppets conjured by Shadow Glove to launch a bola at the super-thief. The device wrapped around Shadow Glove's legs causing her to sprawl over. Jackal Girl leapt on the prostrate form and slammed a Sealing Ward onto the thief, taking away from the woman the ability shadow step as well as keeping the woman from pushing past the existing wards.

"Crap," Shadow Glove laughed. "You caught me."

"You are taking this awful well," realized Jackal Girl.

"It was only a matter of time before I would get caught if I kept played this game, Jackal Girl. Besides, catching me and holding me are two separate things," Shadow Glove pointed out.

"We will see," Crimson Veil responded. "Now let's get you to the police." They hoisted Shadow Glove up, wove another set of mystic bonds over her hands and led her out of the museum she'd come to rob. "Good job Jackal Girl," Crimson Veil said.

"I've been hunting her long enough," Jackal Girl sighed.

"Cheer up," Shadow Glove piped up. "You caught me."

"Your good attitude only makes me worry more," Jackal Girl replied.

"Good for you; it should," Shadow Glove agreed.

"Don't let her get under your skin. She's been caught and we've always know she's been a bit crazy. This is all part of her attempt to keep playing with our minds."

"Damn it," Jackal Girl gripe, "it is working."

(Two Days Later)

Princess Bloodstone, Paige, sat back laughing at the movie between mouthfuls of popcorn and sips of Coke. A few people looked her way with annoyance but she ignored them.

"This is great," she told Dr. Life aka Conrad. He tilted his head toward her.

"Speak quietly," he whispered carefully. She looked at him with similar annoyance but nodded.

Despite herself Paige found her eyes gravitating to Conrad as she watched the movie. The man was an enigma. He gave her so much but asked so little. For the moment, he asked nothing at all except for her to think about things she would consider anyway. The only perplexing thing about him was that that he was friendly without being overly friendly. She prided herself on her looks but he appeared to be able to ignore them.

When they were walking out of the theater and heading to the subway she opted to find out.

"What's her name?" she asked.

"Her? I'm not sure I feel comfortable talking to you about my girlfriend," he responded.

"Oh, well tell me what she's like. There is no harm in that," she smiled. Inwardly she congratulated herself for getting inside his shell.

"She's a lot like you," he said. "Confident, smart, independent and mysterious while still being uniquely human; someone that intrigues me."

"I intrigue you?" she grinned.

"Of course you do," he replied. "You are important to me, Paige. Am I important to you?" Paige had to think about that because no one and nothing had real valuable to her before.

"I think so," she allowed, "but don't get used to it. I find you useful is all."

"Of course," he nodded.

"... so what's next?" Paige asked

"How does Arabic food sound?" he smiled to her.

"Great; I've never had that before," she beamed. Important or not, Dr. Life always found things to make her few hours of peace more and more savory.

When they got back to Conrad's place and Paige had become Princess Bloodstone again she stared at him. Dr. Life knew this was his most vulnerable time, when the pain came seeping back in. Energy arched around her and anger beamed from her eyes.

"Dr. Life," she growled.

"Yes?"

"I would meet with Jackal Girl ... to discuss things," she said.

"I will let her know. Are we still on for next Saturday?" he asked.

"Of course and you had better entertain me," she snapped. She opened the door and created a crimson portal outside the wards to somewhere else.

"Princess, did you have a good time tonight?" Conrad inquired. She hesitated and looked back over her shoulder.

"I did," she admitted then was gone. He shut the door and got suited up so he could find Crimson Veil.

(Regents of Wrath)

"Princess Bloodstone, where have you been?" Psychic King demanded.

"I didn't know I was at your beck and call," she sneered.

"Watch yourself," Corpse Wail threatened. She was always ingratiating herself with the Regents of Wrath's leader, Psychic King.

"You are part of the Regents because I brought you in Princess; don't you forget it. Without me you would still be only another maniac with delusions of grandeur and a desire for a soliloquy," Psychic said in a condescending manner. She ground her teeth in anger. "I am the only option that exists to remove the Tri-City Alliance forever," he reminded her ... again.

"Exactly how do you plan to do that? It isn't like we haven't been able to defeat them a half-dozen times already without any grand strategy," challenged Bloodstone.

"Defeated them; yes, but that is not the same thing as getting rid of them all forever," he chuckled.

"We will grind them down to nothing," claimed Corpse Wail.

"As if Psychic King would confide his plans in you, you necromantic moron," Princess Bloodstone laughed. The pale ghost-like villain seethed but did nothing. There was little doubt she feared the superior sorceress.

"My plans will become clear soon enough, but when the time is right, I need you to be ready Princess Bloodstone so you will curtail your personal projects," Psychic King demanded.

Princess Bloodstone felt her furor boiling but knew to openly defy him would court disaster. Then the realization hit her; if she helped bring down the Alliance she would be throwing her best chance to regain her sanity and a life without pain. Suddenly she felt trapped and she had no one to talk to, no one she could trust.

(Lady Dynamic)

Sarah Beltran was getting a little tired of doing all the talking with her date Russell What's-His-Name. Like too many guys she knew he was spending too much time ogling her tits and not enough making eye contact – or even making conversation. Finally she had enough.

"Hey Russell," Sarah began, "this has been a blast but I have a project I have to take care of."

"Wait, do you want to go out for a drink?" Russell blurted out. Sarah had little doubt that a drink wasn't what he had in mind.

"Sorry Russell, I really have to be going," she smiled, got up and left. She didn't feel the least bit bad about sticking him with the bill.

She walked home, thought about it, suited up and headed out over the city. She was in awe of her ability to fly and be free of the ground and all its troubles, but she was still lonely and there were few people she could talk to about it. Well, she figured, that was what mentors were for. Catching up with the Crimson Veil didn't take long.

"What's the problem?" Crimson asked her while they sat on top of a building.

"Men ... relationships, people in general," Lady Dynamic sighed. "If I had known that a secret identity was going to be so hard on my social life I'd have gone public from Day one."

"Do you really think that would be any easier?" Crimson questioned.

"This is going to be one of those questions I'm not going to like the answer," Lady Dynamic groaned.

"When you are public, everyone you know is in danger from super-villains, everyone wants you to do favors for them, and you worry about every man you meet only wanting to nail a super-heroine. Trust me you are doing the right thing. Give it time and things will get better," Crimson Veil promised.

"You have it easy on one regard," Lady Dynamic let slip and immediately regretted it. Crimson Veil titled her head toward Dynamic but her facial expression was hidden from view.

"Yes?" Crimson Veil asked. Lady Dynamic grimaced. "You know about us," Crimson stated.

"I looked in that night ... to see how good he was," Dynamic admitted. "As a fighter!"

"When did you look away?" Crimson Veil inquired.

"After the second kiss," Lady Dynamic replied. "Did I miss more?"

"None of your business," Crimson Veil chuckled. "I'm a big girl now."

"That still doesn't change the fact that you have a relationship and I don't," Lady Dynamic stated. "What do you think of Technetronic?"

"He's a playboy and voyeur, but I'm not sure how much you have in common. He's an engineer and you are a theoretician. He's also a bit more sexually liberated than you are," Crimson pointed out.

"That doesn't leave much of an opportunity for me," Lady Dynamic admitted.

"Well, do you want us to shop around for you – sort of a super-hero's dating service?" Crimson asked.

"You can do that?" Lady Dynamic perked up.

"Sure. Many of us keep tabs on one another in various cities. That is how I knew Dr. Life and he knew me. Neither one of us can openly advertise after all," Crimson informed her.

"How does this work?" Lady Dynamic asked.

"We circulate a picture of you and put up a 1-900 number," joked Crimson Veil. "Actually I've never done this before so I'll see what I can figure out."

"Do you know how surreal it is to be getting dating advice from the Tri-City's greatest crime fighter while sitting on top of a building?" Lady Dynamic chuckled.

"I won't spread the news if you won't," Crimson Veil suggested.

"Mums the word," Lady Dynamic answered. There was something else she felt she needed to do. "There is something else I want to ask you about; whatever happened to the Corrupter?"

"Oh ..." Crimson Veil muttered.

"He disappeared fifteen years ago shortly after he killed Jennifer Morales aka the Golden Swan. Are you sure he's not dead? I mean, if Life wanted to kill him ...," Dynamic hesitated.

"The Corrupter is in a deep dark hole. He may be deathless for all we know, but Dr. Life crippled him and broke his power in such a way that he can never fix his body again," Crimson Veil said quietly. "Midnight Mask told me all about it."

"See, the Corrupter, Golden Swan, and Dr. Life were all Life Force controllers. The Corrupter wanted to unite all the other controllers under his leadership so they could sell life and death all over the globe. The Golden Swan resisted him and he managed to kill her after a terrible fight. Dr. Life came upon her lifeless body and the drained form of the Corrupter and did something to him that has forever warped that villain's body."

"After that, the government put Corrupter in a maximum security facility that most of us don't like to talk about because its Constitutional authority is questionable. Dr. Life regrets what he did to the Corrupter and he also regrets not trying to kill the man," CrimsonVeil informed Lady Dynamic.

"He always seems so mellow," Lady Dynamic observed.

"He has lost it once, seen what horrible things he could do and it has scarred him. To his credit he hasn't forgotten about it. He's lived with what he's capable of every day of his life and because of that he had worked very hard at not caring for anyone as much as he cared about Golden Swan," Crimson stated.

"Were they close?" Dynamic asked. Crimson Veil looked at her.

"They were husband and wife."

"Damn it ... wait, if he is an empathic healer, how did he hurt the Corrupter?" Dynamic questioned.

"He ripped the power right out of him. In the same way he can heal, he can give pain and he tore the weakened Corrupter's power right out of him and claimed it for his own. While he lives, the Corrupter can't recover and they both know it. He is constantly causing that man agony and he shares that pain. That is a burden I don't want to bear," Crimson answered.

"Could he ever lose it again?" Dynamic inquired.

"Anyone of us could lose it, Lady Dynamic. If you ask me if he is more prone to it I would have to say 'no'. Besides if he does, we can stop him – I can stop him."

"Even though you care about him?" Dynamic asked. Crimson Veil stared at her for a long time.



(Morning)

"Mmmm," murmured Crimson Veil as she lay on the bed. Dr. Life ran his fingers over her back from midway to the shoulders and back again. The aches literally drained away. As his hands rolled over the top of her shoulders to her collar he reached down and kissed her neck. "Are you expecting to get something," she moaned.

"I certainly hope so," he said as he kissed her right beneath her ear. Crimson Veil propped herself on her elbows so she could lean back toward Conrad and started to kiss him.

"Say it again," she whispered.

"Dakota," he responded. There were very few people who knew the real name of the Crimson Veil.

She was a much hidden individual and trust was a rare commodity for her. She rolled on her side so that she faced him.

"Why me?" she asked. She was rarely unsure but she was unsure now.

"I can't put it in words. I know I've admired you for some time, but since I've met you I've felt you were special," he told her.

"I barely know you," she admitted, "but I've known about you for a long time. Even though the Midnight Mask was leery of you, I always admired you for your convictions if not for your code," she said.

"That's a polite way of saying you don't agree with me," he laughed.

"Does that mean I'm not going to get any more attention," she inquired coyly.

"I think I'm in this for the long haul," Conrad confessed.

"That's a polite way of saying you like me," Dakota responded before kissing him. He slowly rolled her over while keeping the kiss. She rose up one leg while his hand roamed over her body. For Dakota it was electric and for Conrad it was a matter of feeling more than alive.

(Central Plaza Justice Building 3 Days Later)

The reinforced concrete wall exploded inward knocking over the closest guard. Three other guards on the level knelt and leveled their pulse rifle at the sudden opening. Unfortunately for them, the Psychic King didn't need to see their targets to hit them. Two guards fell to the ground stunned but the final one got a shot off. A pulse of electrical energy lashed out at the dust-shrouded forms.

The blast crackled around the crimson shell and a second later the guard heard the distinctive whirring of Razor Claw. The guard turned and ran, but didn't make the door. Now the first level of the detention block was open to the Regents. Alarms were also going off all around the city. The Regents were on the attack.

The door guarding the way to the basement High Security lock-up, their goal, was torn down by Razor Claw. The rest of the regents followed. Ghost Wail dropped down the stairwell and used her trademark wail to disable the guard waiting for the team. Even at this 'safe' distance, the eerie call rattled the Regents.

Now the Digital Duke took over. Outside the vault he connected with the electronic systems that independently kept the High Security area screened. In under a minute the huge door swung open. Two bolts of energy came flailing out. One staggered Corpse Wail and the other bounced off of Princess Bloodstone's shield.

This time the Princess could see her targets and she lashed out at both of them, catching them in her coils and crushing them in mid-air. She then slammed them into the wall at the end of the hall while the Digital Duke and Psychic King entered. They walked up to one cells. The Digital Duke worked his powers once more and the prison cell opened.

"Hello Shadow Glove," Psychic King announced.

"Hi there," she quipped in return.

"Come with us if you want your freedom," he told her.

"Isn't that supposed to be 'come with me if you want to live'?" Shadow Glove taunted with a grin on her face.

"Don't mock me criminal," Psychic King growled.

"Fine, fine, what's the offer?" she asked.

"You are going to perform a mission for us and you will be richly rewarded," Psychic King informed Shadow Glove.

"What's the mission? Who am I going against and what is the chance of death, primarily my own?" Shadow Glove smiled warmly.

"You will be told the details when they become relevant to you," the King responded.

"Can I think about this?" Shadow Glove inquired.

"No," was Psychic King's angry reply.

"Do I have a choice?" she asked.

"Are you coming or not?" snapped Princess Bloodstone.

"Come now if you don't want us to kill you," the Digital Duke threatened.

"Now that is an offer I can understand," Shadow Glove agreed. She hopped up off her bed and walked to the door then skipped down the hall bracketed by the villain group. With the containment energy field down, Princess Bloodstone was able to open a Portal and the team exited as the first response guards arrived on the scene.

At the Regent's safe house, Bloodstone grabbed Shadow Glove by the wrist and twisted.

"Ow," whined Shadow Glove, "I was planning to use that arm."

"We don't' want you stepping into the shadows Shadow Glove," Psychic King sneered. Razor Claw stepped up and cut open Shadow Glove's palm.

"What part of 'OW!' do you people not understand?" she screeched. Princess Bloodstone put her hand over Shadow Glove's open wound. Shadow's blood felt it was still on fire and she writhed in pain.

"Now if you betray us," Princess Bloodstone promised, "I'll be able to find you and exact vengeance."

"And here I thought we were all friends," joked Shadow in a pained voice. Psychic King backhanded her, rocking her head to the side.

"Cease your insolence," he commanded. Whatever replies Shadow had she kept to herself.

"Fine then," she said, "what is it you want me to do?"

(Back at the Central Plaza Justice Building)

Lady Dynamic was the first on the scene and she didn't' like what she saw. She could tell by the police response that she was too late. She landed outside the hole in the wall and waited for the closest person in authority to approach her.

"Lady Dynamic," a Police Officer said, "we were attacked by the Regents of Wrath. They broke Shadow Glove out of Max Security."

"How long have they been gone?" she asked.

"Five minutes; we have units out but frankly we are waiting on you. Princess Bloodstone opened a gate when they exited the Max Sec. They knew how to take out our secondary interference grid," the officer told her. Lady Dynamic started pacing and looking introspective. This wasn't the part of the mission she was trained for.

Jackal Girl arrived next and Lady Dynamic immediately brought her up to speed. The two went quickly to the crime scene and Jackal began calling upon her Egyptian magic and impressive sleuthing skills to start figuring out what happened.

"Shadow Glove didn't go willingly," Jackal Girl stated.

"What makes you say that?" Lady Dynamic asked.

"She left all her belongs here. Had she wanted to leave she would have brought along her personal effects," explained Jackal.

"What would they want her for?" Lady Dynamic wondered.

"They want her to steal something," Crimson Veil answered as she came up to the other two super-heroines. Her stealthy appearances always gave Lady Dynamic the willies.

"What do they need her for? What can't they just break in to?" Lady Jackal pondered.

"That would be the question," Crimson Veil concluded. "What indeed? We need to create a list of targets in the city that have that high level of security."

Technetronic arrived and began examining the damage that Digital Duke had done.

"They blew out the security cameras in the vault, but not elsewhere in the facility so they don't us to know what was said to Shadow Glove. The only thing I can tell you right now is that Digital Duke did a quick job on this. He must have some new toys."

"Those nanites they stole a month ago?" Crimson Veil inquired.

"Not directly, but maybe a variation of that technology," Technetronic answered. "By the way, Dr. Life and T-Rex are up top. Life is healing the wounded guards and T-Rex is examining the damage to see if he can figure out what exactly their plan was."

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