Gorgun sighed as she sat on the park bench, casually fiddling with the gorgon ray in her hands. “I dunno Rachel, it just seems like as of late I've been... uninspired,” Melissa Dusa commented the woman she was sitting next to, or rather the statue that had been a woman. Rachel Walters, one of Melissa's former classmates at art school, sat rigidly on the bench next to her, turned to stone by the villain's ray. The attractive young woman had been sitting there sketching when Melissa had arrived and never even saw the blast coming. Rachel had short hair in a sort of bob cut with the left side clipped back, her face studying the sketchbook page intently as her right hand held a stone pencil to the petrified paper.
Sighing once more Gorgun leaned back and glanced at her silent companion. “I know I'm powerful,” she told the human statue. “I mean, I'm one of the most wanted criminals in the city. I've managed to beat Lady Justice and her crew more than a couple of times. That woman makes one luscious statue...” Gorgun then smirked and leaned over closer to the petrified Rachel. “By the way, so do you...” Melissa whispered into the statue's ear before leaning back and affectionately touching her face. “But even with all the press I'm getting, it isn't enough. My ray only works for so long, and Jason was the only scientist I knew that could design a ray like mine. If I could turn things to stone and have them stay that way forever... then everyone would remember my art and know not to mess with me.”
“You're twisted Gorgun, you know that?” came a voice behind the bench, causing Melissa to turn. Judgement Girl stood there with Claire Greenfield and Lilly Anderson. Judgement Girl held a tranquilizer gun while Claire boasted a paralysis ray. The trio had been paying a visit to a Vernon Enterprises cafe and was heading back to Elsa's lab through the park when they'd spotted Gorgun.
“Well nuts,” muttered Gorgun as she moved to dive from the bench. Just as Judgement Girl fired her gun however Melissa became aware that the chirping of the nearby pigeons had ceased, as had the whisper of evening breeze. Confused, Melissa got up from the ground and trained her ray on Judgement Girl. Much to her surprise Judgement Girl was standing as she had been a moment ago, her weapon pointed to where Melissa had been sitting, her finger pulling the trigger. Even more surprising was the fact that the dart fired from the gun hovered inches away from the weapon's barrel, fixed in mid-air. Claire and Lilly were as unmoving as Judgement Girl, Lilly standing in a sort of hero pose with her arms on her hips and a look of satisfaction on her face. Claire held her gun casually, her right arm partially extended with a neutral expression on her face. All three women were as still as Rachel was.
“Hello there!” giggled a voice, and Gorgun saw two green goblins sitting on the bench next to Rachel. It was then that Gorgun began to realize what was going on and quickly glanced around. Sure enough she saw birds hanging in the air, nearby trees looking ruffled as if wind were passing through them and even what looks like a couple off in the distance standing motionless in a walking pose.
“So you two are Tick and Tock the timeless tricksters?” asked Gorgun, lowering her ray. “So this is what it's like when you stop time...”
“Stopping time is just one of our powers!” declared Tock proudly. “If we wanted to we could make you as old as your grandmother or as young as a baby!”
“Yes, we possess a limited control over time,” concurred Tick, giggling slightly. “We can only disrupt time in a limited area, but we can maintain it for as long as we wish.”
“Yeah, that's great,” muttered Gorgun. “I take it you guys were the ones that saved me and the others from going to jail that time we all fought at City Hall? What do you want with me now?”
“Recently our friend Dungeon Master lost his powers,” moaned Tock. “There is still another, but we've lost someone special.”
“So we're now looking to help others fill the void,” continued Tick. “We've been here since you've been talking about how uninspired you've been, and have found a solution.”
Gorgun pondered the offer for a moment, but quickly made her decision. “Alright, what do you two have in mind?” asked the goblin duo.
Tick and Tock both giggled with glee as they hopped off the bench and moved over to where the three frozen women stood. Tock then stroked Claire's unmoving leg and waggled the part of his head where eyebrows would normally be. “This beautiful creature can improve your ray!” explained the goblin. “She can make it so it doesn't wear off after a certain amount of time! She can also make you a new weapon powerful enough to turn the entire city to stone!”
That caught Gorgun's attention, but she was still skeptical. “Yes, I remember hearing about her,” admitted Gorgun. “Still, how will we get her to work for me? I don't have any mind control power...”
“That's okay; we do!” exclaimed Tick, promptly scaling Claire's back by tugging on her shirt and top. The skirt descended, revealing a white silk thong. Tock giggled and continued to do somewhat perverted things to the frozen woman's leg. Tick, meanwhile, clung to the front of Claire's face and stared directly into her eyes. A couple of seconds later the goblin hopped down and faced Gorgun. “She's now hypnotized into obeying you,” Tick told the villain. “We'll unfreeze her and let you escape.”
“Before you do, let me just turn those two to stone,” insisted Gorgun, raising her ray to point it at both Lilly and Judgement Girl. “Better to get them out of my hair for now...”
Tick and Tock both sighed and shook their heads. The pair then locked their hands together and immediately Claire unfroze, holstering her own ray and standing at attention. Gorgun, however, now stood unmoving, her right arm holding her ray away from her body as she carried a superior smile on her face.
Tick walked up to the now-frozen villain and knocked on her leg. “If you could hear me, I'd remind you that we're in charge here!” exclaimed the goblin. “Claire, carry her to your car and use your device to unfreeze her. Next follow Gorgun's orders exactly as she says.”
Claire nodded and moved, picking up Gorgun by the waist and walking towards the parking lot with the frozen woman held in front of her. Left to their own devices, Tick and Tock decided to unfreeze Judgement Girl and Lilly after they'd removed the former's weapon from her hands and plucked the dart out of the air.
As Judgement Girl and Lilly looked around in worry, trying to find Claire and Gorgun, Tick and Tock got their attention with a wave and immediately flash hypnotized them. Tick and Tock then went invisible as Judgement Girl and Lilly left the park, now thinking that Claire was merely out of town and that Rachel had always been a statue sitting on the bench.
* * *
The following day, during the late afternoon, Gorgun and Claire were ready to carry out their plan. The two had spent the last twenty-four hours, more for them as Tick and Tock had sped them up, upgrading the gorgon ray, designing a special bomb capable of turning the entire city to stone, and figuring out where to plant it. Ultimately it had been decided that at the local WNBA game that night since the arena where the court was located was also the most central building in the entire city and the device needed to be triggered from a high area to work properly. Initially Gorgun had been against doing it on a night when so many people would be inside, but Claire also developed something to deal with the problem. Tick and Tock also appeared and offered to help, thus the plan was set.
The plan began with Tick and Tock sneaking into Elsa's lab hours before the game, freezing her in time while she sat at her computer and disabling the temporal distortion monitor. In order to avoid suspicion, Elsa was also hypnotized into not noticing and then unfrozen. Next, the goblins arrived at the arena, freezing time within it as well. The ticket sellers, the players, the coaches, the arena staff... all were caught unaware, going about their business. This allowed Gorgun and Claire to enter undetected. The two women proceeded to plant small smoke canisters in the ventilation system, each containing a special gas that would turn anyone who was exposed to it to stone. Claire and Gorgun were naturally immune to the gas, having created a solution to protect them and then coat themselves with it. Once the canisters were placed the duo headed for the roof where the main bomb was placed. After a test-run of the initial gas, which would be detonated during the game, the duo would then set the bomb and hurry to a safe place, since the big bomb used a concentrated solution similar to the original ray.
Once everything was setup Tick and Tock restarted time and then sped up time, flashing forward to when the audience began to arrive. Among those present were Victoria, Lilly, Jenny and Maria, the four girls all being fans of women's basketball and being allowed to use the sky box owned by Vernon Enterprises. Mayor Rushmore would also be observing from her own sky box. As Gorgun and Claire watched people settle in, filling the arena up to the rafters, the latter realized something. “The gas will not reach any of the sky boxes,” announced the female scientist. “Their ventilation is separate from the main system, just in case of an attack like ours.”
Claire had expected Gorgun to be angry, but surprisingly she actually seemed pleased. “Good, I'll be able to have a little fun before we test our weapon,” she declared, hefting her ray. “You two cover me, okay?” the villain asked the goblins, who nodded.
“Don't worry!” exclaimed Tick, winking. “I'm more than enough to deal with anyone who might be a problem, so I'll leave Tock here!” Melissa glanced over to see Tock was eyeballing Claire once more as she stood by.
“Alright, lets go then,” said Gorgun, leaving with Tick. When the two were gone Tock snapped his fingers and Claire suddenly froze, her arms crossed as she casually peered out over the arena as the crowd finished piling in. Giggling the goblin and carefully tipped the frozen woman backwards, both taking her out of sight and laying her down flat on her back.
“Now then, lets see about your clothes,” giggled Tock as he unbuckled the woman's belt.
While his twin fooled around with a helpless Claire, Tick was making good use of his own power, freezing multiple employees with a snap of his fingers as he and Gorgun headed for the sky boxes. Unfortunately it quickly became clear that sneaking into the specific areas would be next to impossible since people were constantly moving about and it would be hard to say when certain people could be unfrozen. Gorgun was peeking out from a door that declared only staff could enter and saw all this. “I think we need Tock after all,” said Gorgun. “New plan. We'll head back to the hiding spot and stay there until the gas is going to be released. Right before it does, freeze the stadium and everyone in it but me; that way I can take care of those who won't get caught by the gas without being seen.”
“You're right,” sighed Tick. Gorgun shut the door and headed back down the private hallway to the rafter access. When the two arrived neither was that surprised to find Tock sitting on top of a frozen Claire after having tugged off her skirt and blouse. Gorgun didn't comment though she did admire the woman's choice in red silk underwear.
“Sorry, but we need your help,” said Gorgun, bringing Tock up to speed. Sighing, Tock unfroze Claire, who showed no real annoyance at being reduced to her lingerie, and stood up. “Okay, now warp us ahead to right before the—” Gorgun was cut off as time flashed forward via the powers of the two goblins; her voice ending up sounding like that of a television on fast forward. Both Melissa and Claire checked their watches and saw what time it was now. “Okay, do it,” ordered Gorgun, and the two goblins obeyed.
The New Oslo Point Guard was going for a three-pointer as the surprisingly tall Asian woman leapt up and let the ball fly. It was right at that time the entire stadium stopped, freezing the ball and the player in mid-air as well as every spectator in the building watching on. The player's braided hair stuck out in all directions like the branches of a tree, fixed in the air. From her sky box the mayor was standing with anticipation, the contents of her bag of popcorn in the process of spilling to the floor. Tick and Tock turned to face a strangely still Gorgun and Claire, then realizing they'd accidentally frozen the two women as well. Gorgun stood flat on her feet facing the goblins, her weapon held at her right side while her left hand rested on her hip, her face stern. Claire had the same expression and relatively the same pose, save both her hands were on her hips. Tick quickly snapped his fingers and Gorgun moved once again, glancing over the arena. “That's one heck of a tableaux,” exclaimed the villain. “Alright, I'm off. You two enjoy yourselves or do whatever until I get back...” Tick and Tock both eyed Claire like stalkers would as Gorgun left once more.
The highlight of Gorgun's brief tour throughout the immobilized stadium was the Vernon Enterprises box, as once again she found three of her favorite victims. “Judgement Girl and two spoiled brats,” laughed Gorgun as she circled the frozen forms of Jenny, Maria and Judgement Girl. All three were dressed casually, Maria and Victoria wearing shirts and jeans while Jenny wore a shirt and a skirt. Jenny's hands her in front of her face, her eyes wide with anticipation. Victoria had been pumping her arms and her mouth was wide open, no doubt in the middle of a cheer. Maria stood by with a casual smile on her face, looking somewhat like a model with one hand on her hip and the other resting at her side. This fit since Maria was well on the way to becoming a professional supermodel.
“I guess your airhead friend stepped outside for a moment,” purred Gorgun as her hands rested on Maria's soft shoulders, her gun hanging from her belt. “No matter, she'll be changed soon enough when the gas is released. In fact, it'll wash over everyone in about five seconds...” Melissa moaned with anticipation as she ran the tip of her tongue down Maria's neck.
“Ah well, I shouldn't keep you all waiting,” declared Gorgun, stepping back and training her weapon on the three helpless young women. A blue ray flashed and immediately all three were turned into perfect marble statues. “Sorry girls, I have to run,” sighed Gorgun. “So many statues to make, so much time!” Melissa laughed as she left the sky box.
Despite moving a lot faster after the Vernon Enterprises sky box it still took Melissa another half an hour to petrify everyone else. Tick and Tock had passed the time practicing foreplay on the frozen Claire, though they did not possess the equipment to go further than that, being immortal magical creatures that didn't need to reproduce. However, during this time Gorgun failed to realize that Lilly was in fact outside the stadium, still close enough to be frozen by the goblins but free from the gas in the ventilation system.
Gorgun returned and was surprised to find Claire still wearing her underwear, then reminded herself that the goblins probably didn't care much about sexual organs. “Alright, unfreeze everyone and let it begin,” ordered Gorgun.
“We have a better plan,” replied Tick. He and Tock, who stood on top of a once-again laid down Claire's stomach, joined their hands. At first Gorgun didn't hear or notice anything until she looked at the vents.
“You unfroze the bombs?” realized Gorgun, surprised they hadn't thought of that earlier.
“Yes, and now we will wait until it has filled the arena and then unfreeze everyone so they can breathe it immediately!” giggled Tock. Gorgun whistled in amazement and watched the gas quickly sweep over the stadium. Right as it had seemed to reach every corner Tick and Tock joined hands and time resumed. Everyone had just enough time to see the ball bounce off the rim and see the Asian player land before they were all turned to stone. Many players on the court had their arms raised and their legs bent as the ball hit the ground and bounced towards the opposite end. No one reacted to this however, since the spectators were all effectively now roosts for pigeons.
“It works,” moaned Gorgun, once again feeling sexually aroused by the transformed people. “Alright, unfreeze Claire and lets get the bomb on the roof working.” The three villains stood Claire back up on her bare feet; she was then unfrozen, once again showing no sign of emotion. The stripped scientist followed the trio to the outdoor roof of the arena where the final bomb awaited them.
Outside, Lilly had finished grabbing her cell phone from Jenny's car and returned to the arena entrance, keys and phone in hand. What awaited her was a ticket salesman who now stood rigid since he was now a stone statue. “When did that happen?!” exclaimed Lilly. The young woman blinked twice to confirm her eyes weren't deceiving her. “Gorgun,” gasped Lilly and quickly moved into the building while dialing her phone.
* * *
“The bomb is active and the timer is set,” declared Claire as she stepped away from the device on top of the stadium roof. The city around them was still fairly alive, cars zipping through the streets, but there was no air patrol to stop them.
“Alright, now we just need to get outside the city limits,” announced Gorgun as the group walked away from the bomb.
“That's not going to happen!” came a heroic shout. Gorgun and Claire spun around while Tick and Tock faded from view as Lady Justice now hovered behind them near the far edge of the roof. “You're going to go to jail while Claire gives us a damn good reason for helping you out...”
“As if I'll let you!” snapped Gorgun, firing her ray. Unfortunately for the villain Lady Justice was ready and zipped aside, the blast missing completely. The two proceeded to play a game of cat and mouse as Gorgun kept trying unsuccessfully to turn her to stone as she flew around the building, her body currently lighter than air. While this was going Claire headed for the stairs only to run into Nathan, Elsa and Lockdown.
“She's being controlled by Tick and Tock!” warned Lockdown, reading the younger scientist's mind with her telepathy. “That device up there is a bomb that will turn the entire city to stone if we don't disarm it!” Claire hadn't been commanded to do anything about the new arrivals and so stood blankly aside in a zombie-like state while the trio rushed towards the bomb. After only going a few steps, however, Lockdown and Elsa were both surprised to find their feet seemingly glued to the roof, their legs spread forward.
“What's going on?” gasped Elsa. “I can't move my legs!”
“Nathan, the bomb!” cried Lockdown, and the still mobile Silent Dragon raced for the device, even though he had no understanding of how it worked.
“We don't thiiiiiiink so!” hissed Tick and Tock in unison as they appeared in between Nathan and the bomb. By this time Nathan realized that Gorgun had stopped firing at Lady Justice, who now flew towards him, her eyes cloudy.
“Oh fuck me,” muttered Nathan as the fast-flying but not overly heavy Lady Justice plowed into him, sending him rolling across the roof as she landed. By now Elsa and Lockdown had lost movement in their waists, their arms reaching forward in vain to move from their spots.
“Nathan, she's been hypnotized just like Claire!” cried Lockdown, throwing her ray gun to the fallen martial artist. “Your only chance is to stop her and then stop th-” Lockdown failed to end her sentence as her head froze, her mouth hanging open with her eyes wide.
“Stepha—” began Elsa, looking at her fully frozen companion in alarm before completely freezing herself. Both were now living statues atop the arena's roof.
“That's a neat trick,” commented Gorgun as she watched Lady Justice kick aside Lockdown's ray and deliver a right cross to Nathan's handsome face. “How'd you managed that?”
“Expanding time bubble,” cackled Tick. “It started at their feet and ran up their bodies until it covered them completely!” Nathan staggered to his feet but then took a knee to the gut before tackling his lover to the ground, the two now interlocked as they struggled.
“Alright, lets watch them a bit more and then freeze them and go or something,” declared Gorgun, enjoying the show as Nathan kicked Lady Justice away but then get tackled and pinned around his knees. The three villains were so engrossed in the fight that no one noticed Lilly had also arrived, having been the one who called the heroes to the scene. With amazing stealth she came up right behind Melissa and, before anyone could react, snatched up the gorgon ray.
“Payback!” roared Lilly as she fired, turning the surprised Gorgun to stone. The villain hadn't even fully turned around, her body twisted to the right at the hip, her right hand grasping the empty air where her weapon had been while her left was across her stomach, her mouth hanging open in surprise. Not taking any chances, Lilly then fired the weapon on Claire as she stood idle near the stairs, turning the scientist to stone as well. She was too busy enjoying revenge on Gorgun to remember that Tick and Tock were there too, and the pair had taken the opportunity to go invisible yet again.
“Lilly, zap us both!” shouted Nathan, knowing fully well he'd be fine but Lady Justice would be turned to stone. The Anderson girl didn't hesitate and fired Lady Justice prepared to leapt at Nathan once again, halting and her skin, clothing and hair alike all becoming the same dull marble, her legs bent and her arms at the ready. “The bomb!” Nathan shouted next, turning to the explosive but before even taking a step he was frozen in time by Tick and Tock.
“What the?!” exclaimed Lilly as she found her feet stuck to the roof, a mere step away from the bomb and seeing the timer slowly count down with only an hour left. “Oh no!” moaned Lilly, dropping the ray and reaching out with both arms. It was right then that her hips and arms froze too, hanging mere centimeters from the controls to the bomb. “You've got to be kid—” sighed Lilly, freezing entirely before she could finish the statement. And just like that only Tick and Tock remained.
“Well, I guess we'll just leave them and wait for the bomb!” giggled Tick, Tock nodding in agreement as they admired Lilly's shapely frozen form.
“How about you leave before I hurt you?” came a voice from above. Tick and Tock looked up and saw a very unusual man floating above them, slowly descending towards the roof. He wore what looked like a blended brass-silver shirt with matching shorts, boots and arm guards. Despite appearing to be metal all the items the man wore also seemed as flexible as leather. He possessed a red-haired afro, though it was a small one, and wore a pair of mirrored sunglasses. In his right hand he held a very fine-looking sword that glinted in the setting sun. Tick and Tock tried to freeze him in the air as he landed but were shocked that it was no avail.
“Who are you?” gasped Tock, taken aback by the man's immunity to their powers.
“I am the Time Knight, an immortal chronicler of mankind,” replied the new arrival. “My name is Connor McManus, though I doubt you care. You've caused serious damage to the flow of time here in this city, and now I will make things right.” Pointing his sword at the bomb, Time Knight snapped his fingers. Immediately the bomb seemed to become consumed by shadows and then faded away into nothingness, leaving Lilly standing there reached out to nothing but the roof.
“Tock, we'd best retreat!” cried Tick. Tock nodded, too shocked to speak, and the two goblins quickly turning invisible, fleeing the scene.
“Creepy little bastards,” snorted Time Knight, walking over to to the frozen forms of Elsa and Lockdown. “Huh, you two are quite sexy, do you know that?” mused the strange hero, obviously getting no response from the frozen women. “Bah; a shame you're both mortals. Ah well, time to fix, well, time!” Time Knight snapped his fingers and immediately faded away, going invisible like the goblins as the four who'd been frozen began to move once again.
* * *
It took several hours for Elsa, even working with the police and FBI, to restore everyone at the basketball arena. Claire and Lady Justice were also restored, neither showing any more signs of the hypnotism that had made them side with the villains. Both also remembered everything, Claire glowing the same shade as her underwear when she realized what had been done to her. Lady Justice offered no apology, but Nathan had known she'd been manipulated so he hadn't expected or needed one. No one knew what had happened to the bomb or why Tick and Tock had unfrozen everyone, but ultimately no one seemed to care.
While Tick and Tock had gotten away, the heroes were presented with a limited opportunity as Gorgun was now in their hands. Lilly had secretly pocketed the gorgon ray, keeping it for herself just in case someone else ever tried to turn her into a statue, plus to help her friend fight crime. Elsa could have reversed the effects of the ray herself but it was decided that, as punishment for her repeatedly crimes, she would be kept in the basement of the FBI office, locked up in a crate. Scans had revealed the petrification would not wear off, thus Gorgun would remain a statue decorating the New Oslo Police headquarters until it was decided what would be done with her next. For the moment, however, the city was now short another villain.
“First Dungeon Master, now Gorgun,” chuckled Jessica as she and Nathan shared a glass of white wine at his apartment, cuddling on the couch. “There may be more threats out there, but at least we're finally getting the streets cleaner...”
“Yeah, which gives us a chance to think about the future,” agreed Nathan, whispering into his girlfriend's ear as he put his glass down.
“Whatever do you mean?” asked Jessica, playing coy but already guessing where Nathan was going with the conversation. Sure enough, Nathan produced a small box from the cushions of the couch and had Jessica open it, revealing a beautiful gold ring with a sparkling diamond in the center.
“Will you marry me?” Nathan quickly said, trying to keep up with how fast Jessica pulled the ring out of the box and slid it on her finger.
“Why the hell didn't you ask me earlier?!” laughed Jessica as the two embraced and kissed passionately. “I would have said yes months ago!”
to be continued in 'A Man Out of Time'...