Chapter Six, Everyone Should Have a Goal in Life
September 10th, 1944
"If I could have your attention, we will start the presentation." The short, weaselly Gestapo officer in charge of the base turned and
fiddled with the projector.
Baron von Bronze gave a sigh and tapped his cigarette into the tall ashtray at his side. The other scientists sat around the room and held animated conversations with one another about the latest bits of research they delved into. Bronze found the others colossally boring, typical egg headed scientists, who more often than not, looked and acted the part. Wild unkempt hair, thick glasses, and absentmindedness- they couldn't be any more stereotypical. The lights dimmed, and the projector began to flicker.
WAAARRRRRBBLLLLL the projector gave out a horribly loud vibrating tone, and the black and white image jumped about on the screen in an incomprehensible mishmash of grays. The image faded, and Bronze could hear the loose end of the film click-clacking around the reel. "Terribly sorry" the officer announced as the lights came back up. There were snickers and guffaws from the crowd. So much for the urgent, important data they had been gathered to see. If the Gestapo couldn't even run a film projector properly, how were they supposed to take them seriously?
"Coffee, Herr Baron?" Werner was roused from his thoughts by someone standing over him.
"Eh? Oh yes." The young girl poured the steaming beverage into his cup. He had seen her around, an assistant to one of the other scientists, he assumed. She had pale skin, mousey brown hair pulled into a stern bun, a slim figure, and horn rimmed glasses. Up close, however, she seemed to possess a certain mysterious charm-- her eyes were exotic; liquid green pools that seemed to be swirling constantly. There was something about her... and he hadn't sculpted in such a long time now. He shook the thought from his mind.
She gave Werner a bright smile, showing two rows of even white teeth. "Cream and sugar?"
"No thank you, I'll take it dark."
The girl walked on to the next scientist. An enlisted man had stepped up to the projector, and soon the Gestapo officer began his little film again. "This is the latest propaganda newsreel from the gangsters in Hollywood. Just to illustrate the effectiveness of their new weapon on morale."
3... 2...1... the titles counted down. 'BLIP' the screen lit up with images of various sporting contests, political figures, and of
course, celebrities, with a brassy trumpet fanfare for a soundtrack.
FOX-MOVIETONE NEWS OF THE WORLD the titles screamed.
ATOM-GIRL AXES AXIS U-BOAT PLOT!
The fast talking, silver tongued announcer began his spiel, and one of the Gestapo men began a running translation in German. Werner had no need for translation, and listened to the original English.
"The War Department was stunned when the German submarine-battleship Ludendorff surfaced off the
The Baron couldn’t help snickering, and a few rows over, Dr. Festbinder, designer of the submarine-battleship, shrank a little lower in his seat. Werner had told them it would be a stupid waste of resources. Now displayed on the screen were images of the lovely heroine shaking hands with a Coast Guard captain, as the German crew was led off with hands clasped on their heads. Werner sat up in his
seat. "After handing over the pride of the Kreigsmarine to the Coastal Defense Forces, ATOM GIRL sped off into the sky, only to be seen later that evening at a Manhattan war bond rally with Hollywood leading man, Neville Sinclair." A much better image of the girl, still in her audacious costume, clutching the arm of the handsome actor. The Baron found himself holding his breath at the sight of the
beautiful girl, her gold cape fluttering in the brisk New York breeze, as flashbulbs went off all around her. "Incredible." He said under his breath.
The film jumped a little, and became grainy, jerky footage, without sound. "This is a collection of footage taken by combat cameramen over the last few weeks," The spy group officer intoned, "and illustrates why she must be stopped at all costs." Various scenes of destruction ensued, including Atom Girl knocking over a gigantic railway gun in
open the top of her leotard, giving him a wonderful view of her cleavage, until she wrapped her tattered cape around herself. The
footage continued that way, with images of the seemingly unstoppable dynamo destroying the best that Nazi Germany could throw at her, and more often than not, losing some piece of her clothing.
"So you see gentleman," the rat-faced officer continued, as the Baron sat enraptured by the film, "We must redirect some of our effort to
this new menace. Does anyone have thoughts on how this 'Atom Girl'" He spat the words "can be destroyed?"
Werner bolted from his chair "I volunteer to take immediate charge of this effort!"
"Well, uh, that is wonderful, Baron, but can you spare the time away from your project? The Reich is depending on it alone now." He gave
Festbinder a dirty glance, and the shriveled scientist skulked down a little more.
"My primary work is complete- as I've made clear in my reports, it is up to the delivery system people now. That is outside my field of
expertise, but the others here still have much to complete before final deployment."
"Very well, Herr Baron. What do you need from me?"
"First of all, the film and newsreel footage you have collected. I need to...study it, in the privacy of my own manor, of course.
I... think better there."
The Gestapo officer thought for moment. "Very well, Baron, but remember to stay focused on the task, and not indulge in any... extracurricular activities."
"Jawohl, Herr Commandant." Werner turned back to the screen, still displaying scenes of Atom Girl wreaking havoc. "I must have her." He
Later that day...
Fitch walked dejectedly down the street, kicking his toe at whatever hapless pieces of refuse got in his way. He had decided to take in the latest Cagney picture, but left after the opening newsreel. "Neville Sinclair" he muttered to himself. It didn't help matters that his arm was still sore from the grazing bullet wound he'd received in helping subdue Ludendorff's crew. The German sailors had not given up as easily as the Hollywood version made it look, and Joan's strength was almost completely depleted in the few minutes it took to disable the large craft and push it towards the beach. That left it up to him and the boys on the ground to capture the crew, but that hadn't made it into the newsreel; Atom Girl's strength limitations were still Top Secret, and it was easier to make it look like she did all the work, rather than explain why she didn't.
He walked all the way back to his flat, rather than hailing a cab. While letting himself in, he immediately noticed something wasn't
right, and slipped his .45 auto out of its shoulder holster. The big gun was smooth and cold in his hand, but warm and comforting at
the same time. Deciding to take the initiative, he pointed the gun at the center of the room, hit and hit the lights.
"You're not that mad at me, are you Billy?" Atom Girl stated demurely, sitting cross legged at his small dinner table.
"Whatsamatter, Sinclair too busy tonight?" Fitch thumbed the safety back on the Colt, and returned to the holster. Taking off his Navy dress coat, he rooted around in a cabinet and produced a bottle of scotch. "How'd do you get in here, anyway? Wait, look who I'm talking
too, I'm lucky I still have four walls."
"Oh Billy," Joan got up from her chair and walked over to him. "Don't be so melodramatic. You know I have to do those silly publicity drives- it's part of the job. The rest is just made up rumors by Hollywood gossip columnists. Besides," anger flashed in her eyes, "what business is it of yours, anyway? Just because you chase around every skirt in the Capitol, doesn't mean they belong to you."
Fitch poured two drinks, one neat, and one with soda on the rocks, which he handed to Joan. "Chasing skirts? I haven't had a date in two years." He looked down at his drink. “I only have room for one girl at a time."
Atom Girl sat her drink on the table, and walked closer to Billy. She put her hands on his chest, and leaned her head against him. She
hadn't realized how tall he was. Fitch put his arms around her, feeling the cool slickness of her leotard, yet with a hint of warmth beneath it. The fading ebb of her powers gave her an odd feeling- she was soft and hard at the same time. There was an electric tingle to her skin as his cheek brushed hers.
"What happens now?" Fitch asked uncertainly.
Atom Girl laughed, and looked into his eyes. "Kiss me, stupid."
What choice did he have?
"Prepare the car, Hans, we are returning to the castle immediately. I'm going to gather a few things." The big manservant nodded and walked off down the hallway. Baron Von Bronze stepped back to the film room jauntily, already mulling over a few ideas on how to subdue the mighty Atom Girl. She had to have a weakness, and he would find it, even if he had to watch her celluloid exploits over and over again. The thought made him smile. He was somewhat startled when he burst into the film room to find the mousey coffee girl scrounging through his briefcase papers.
"Herr Baron!" she gasped, "I was just going through these to ascertain who they belonged too! They are yours." She hurriedly stuffed the papers back into the case and proffered the leather case to the Baron.
"I suppose the monogrammed crest with family name wasn't enough for you, hmmm?" He grabbed the case. "Perhaps the Commandant would like to speak to you about your interest in my project?"
"I- there's no need for that, I assure you! If you just let me exp... oww!"
The Baron seized her by the wrist. "Just come along Fraulein, I'm sure the Gestapo has ways to discover..." The girl muttered something that sounded Greek, and he stopped short as suddenly there was nothing to hold onto. The girl seemed to evaporate into a black vapor that coiled along the floor, and reformed a few feet away into a dusky, dark haired beauty in a skintight black catsuit, with matching cape and hood. Her gloves and the cloak edges were embroidered with Greek symbols in stark white. Only the amazing green eyes stayed the same. She flashed him a wolf's smile, again showing her perfect white teeth.
"Ahh, the mysterious Dark Eidolon- I should have guessed." The sorceress again chanted her short magic, and shifted into vapor once more, roiling rapidly for the room's only door. Werner backed up a few steps, and kicked the heavy door closed. "Gas proof, don't you know. Have to be ready for all contingencies." A flick of a wall switch closed off all the ventilation ports on the walls.
The phantom vapor moved off to a corner and coalesced once more into to the shapely heroine. "I have more magic than that." The Mediterranean maiden said mockingly, and began another spell, gesturing her hands toward the Baron.
Von Bronze put his hands up in front of him, "No need, I surrender!" The move caught the mystical enchantress off guard for a second, enough for Bronze to flex his hands backwards. There was a faint ‘CHUFF’, and Dark Eidolon brought her left arm in front of her face, changing spells in midstream to a ward of protection.
"Mavrikos stalve...erk" Her eyes green eyes widened in surprise, staring at the red flower that blossomed on her forearm, the wispy tufts of a dart projectile. She found herself unable to move a muscle.
The Baron walked rapidly up to her, and the trapped heroine's eyes followed him. He held on of his wrists up to her eyes. "Nifty eh? Dart launching cufflinks! I saw it in an American serial picture! What spell were you going to cast on me anyway? Turn me into a newt or something?" The girl’s eyes blazed defiance. "Don't worry; the drug only affects the voluntary control of major muscle groups. You'll be fit enough in an hour or so to answer the Gestapo's questions." He picked up a phone from its wall cradle, and moved his finger to dial. Dark Eidolon’s mesmerizing green eyes stared at him.
Werner hesitated, and let his eyes wander over the supple, tone form of the immobilized beauty. "No." He hung the phone up. "What would they do? Torture you? Rob the world of your beauty? You would probably escape from those incompetent boobs anyway." Putting his left hand to his chin, he tapped his cheek thoughtfully. "Although you don't deserve it, Allied spy, I think I will give you a most precious gift." He stepped over, and began caressing the girl through her diaphanous catsuit. "Such form! Not voluptuous, but embodying the classical elements of Greek athletic ideals. And such a wonderful pose! Caught in the motion of casting one of your spells, the mystic super-heroine in action!" He rubbed her firm, moderately sized breasts, feeling the nipples harden into small pebbles beneath the slick material. "I did say 'voluntary' action." He chuckled. "Yes, you are returning to my estate with me, the Gestapo need never know you were here. I have some new techniques I need to test, to ready them for my ultimate masterpiece. Perhaps I need to open a whole heroine wing!" He moved his hands to her rounded bottom, savoring the supple, silky smoothness. Leaning into her ear, he whispered "You are going to make an excellent statue."
For the first time, Dark Eidolon’s eyes showed fear.
Von Bronze opened the door slowly, and stuck his head through the narrow gap. Satisfying himself that no one was in the hallway, he hastened to his laboratory to gather a few items, and stopped by the garage on his way back. Hans was leaning against the rear of the Mercedes sedan, having a cigarette.
“Hans! Follow me, quickly! We have… business to attend to.” Werner peered around in the gloom to ensure there was no around. Thankfully, most of the scientists and other personnel had retired for the evening. Only the routine patrols walked the interior grounds, and he was familiar with their routes.
“Jewel, Herr Baron.” Hans followed the baron back to the projector room. His eyes widened slightly at the sight of the paralyzed Eidolon, but then returned to their normal implacable gaze.
“Help me set up the new equipment. The Baron took various pieces of equipment from his satchel, and he and Hans assembled them into a device that resembled nothing more than a complex vacuum cleaner. “Plug this in.” Hans looked around the room, and then spotted the projector plug running behind a curtain. Stooping to his hands and knees, he followed the cord until he located the wall outlet, and plugged in the infernal device.
Hans played the nozzle over the heroine’s stiff form, and a bluish haze of distortion bathed her. “Ash, beautiful woman, and such a wonder you are. But I can take that beauty- and preserve it!”
Hans had heard a variation of this speech a dozen times, and his eyes rolled imperceptibly at the theatrics of his employer. Dark Eidolon’s tanned skin was taking on a decidedly glossy sheen, as her cells petrified like all of the Baron’s previous victims, although her costume remained unaffected. Her eyes were caught in a moment of widened shock, as they solidified to glassy hardness.
“There now!” The dapper aristocrat turned off his infernal machine. He placed his hands on the lithe Greek girl’s shoulder, and tipped her lightened figure backwards, rotating her slightly to check for complete vitrification. Her pose remained rock steady, without a hint that she was anything more than an inanimate object. Rapping his knuckles on her forehead, and appeared satisfied with the clunk that issued.
“My new mobile vitrifier is wonderful! Soon, I will have the miniaturization technology perfected!” He rubbed his hands with glee. “Now to get you to the manor, my lovely- to immortalize you in beautiful bronze! Hans,” He half turned to his assistant. “Pull down that curtain. We must look as if we are carrying lab equipment.” The burly servant did as he was bid, and they soon had the statuefied lovely wrapped up tightly.
Since the petrifying process lightened the subjects considerably, it added to the illusion that they were carrying a much lighter load. As it was, no one troubled them on the passage to the garage area.
“Excellent, we are almost away! Now to put her in the trunk and….” The Baron stopped in consternation. Hans had lifted the trunk lid, and he realized her pose was going to make it somewhat awkward getting her inside. “Here- rotate her left. Not your left, my left!” They fumbled with the statue-girl for a minute, before finally wedging her into the vehicle. Wiping his hands together, Werner began walking toward the passenger side. “Now to get her to the castle and fin…”
“Herr Baron?” Hans interrupted.
“Yes, what is it?” Werner turned in mid-stride.
“The trunk will not close.” Hans moved the lid up and down feebly, to illustrate his predicament.
“Arrrrrr!” Werner stomped back to the recalcitrant storage area.
“Move… her…come on…” Werner jerked the curtained wrapped glass girl around, trying to find a point that did not interfere with the hinge. “There! See? It was not so difficult.” He pulled the lid down with an imperious look on his face. The lid stopped about ˝ an inch short of the catch. “Hrrrrrrrrm!” he huffed. He started pumping the lid rapidly up and down, trying to force it on the catch.
“Herr Baron- you are not going to… break her, are you?” Hans asked tentatively.
“Obviously not, you idiot! She is a work of art! Besides, the vitrified tissue is almost imperv….”
“Von Bronze! What goes on here?” The Commandant walked up, smoking a long cigarette through a holder. He eyed the Baron suspiciously through his monocle.
“Ah! Herr Oberst!” Werner spun quickly, and held the lid down behind his back. “Just ah, packing some equipment, I wanted to do some tests over the weekend.”
Hans pulled out a handkerchief and pretended to polish the car windows, while whistling an off-key tune.
“Well, that’s commendable, taking your work with you.” The Colonel darkened slightly. “That’s not classified material, is it?”
“Of course not, my dear Oberst! Just a little electrical metering that needs rewiring. “Now if I could just, ah, fit it in the trunk here.”
“Let me help you.” The Colonel held the while a surprised Baron reached in and rearranged his secret bounty slightly. “There we go.” The stubborn lid clicked closed.
Looking relieved, Werner turned to get in the car. Hans had already given up his polishing and started the luxury sedan. The Commandant put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. “Remember, Baron- no side distractions, as we discussed. Keep your mind on your work.”
“Of course, Herr Oberst- I wouldn’t have it any other way.” The aristocrat entered the vehicle, and nodded to Hans. “Drive.”
Werner cut away the Eidolon’s catsuit with a pair of shears. He decided to leave her other super heroine accoutrements intact, to match her pose- preserved in that act of casting her spell. “Yes,” he said lovingly, caressing her smooth, glassy form, “I must definitely begin a heroine display. You will be the first of a long line- including the wondrous Atomgirl. You will be in good company.” He left the platform and activated the winch, lowering the petrified girl into the smooth, syrupy vat of liquid bronze. Another gesture and she returned to the surface, now thinly coated in the lustrous metal, reflecting the lights in a dark myriad of colors. “I’m sure you never thought you’d end up like this, my little sorceress-spy. But you are Greek, and so now you are a classical work of Greek art.” He ran his hands along her smoothly bronzed arms, and reveled in how the lacquer-like coating brought out every detail of her toned muscles. The bronze coating was not that different than her regular skin tone, really; it was just magnified in glossiness and luster. “Your ancestors would be proud. And my superiors need never know you were here.”
The Baron set his newest metallic creation on the handcart, and trundled her off to her new home.
Continues in Chapter 7, Setbacks and Progress