Nathan Goldwin sighed as he stood in the New Oslo clock tower, where crime scene specialists worked as rapidly as they could. The giant raygun that Cold Fusion had built still sat in the room, but besides that and a hole where a prisoner cell had been installed there wasn't much left, save of course for the two frozen heroines. Lady Justice was bent low, her arms in front of her looking like she'd been trying to cross them across her body, her face full of terror. Lockdown meanwhile had taken a more aggressive stance, standing bent over with her left arm pulled back, clearly planning to punch something below her. Her right leg was stuck forward so it was assumed that she'd been grabbed around the ankle.
The science experts had quickly theorized that the gigantic ray had been used to project a flash-freeze shock-wave across the city, which is why people hadn't had time to register much before becoming human Popsicles. Unfortunately the cold had also damaged a bunch of clocks, so it was hard to say for sure how long the city had been frozen for. What was clear was Cold Fusion had caused it, and that Lady Justice, Lockdown and supposedly Elsa had all managed to fix the problem, only to get frozen themselves. The problem was that while everyone else was able to thaw, Cold Fusion's own freezing powers were far superior to what had hit the city. It didn't seem like they would thaw at all without help, and the only person who'd ever helped someone who'd been frozen by Cold Fusion was missing.
“This is bad,” muttered Judgement Girl as she leaned on Nathan's shoulder for support.
“Come on Claire, you've worked with cryogenics, haven't you?” demanded Nathan to Elsa's lab assistant who was also present, scanning the the two living ice sculptures with a device.
“There's cryogenics and then there's nearly breaking the third law of thermodynamics,” snapped Claire. “Cold Fusion's touch has frozen these two to nearly the point of absolute zero. This is well beyond hibernation. This is like getting frozen in time, only this time it means it in a glacier sense. I'm amazed Elsa was able to help past victims at all...” The trio sighed, wishing their helpful scientist friend were around. Instead they got Lilly and Chief Meyers, who had both arrived to help as they could. Meyers, of course, was far more useful than the enthusiastic young woman.
“Any theories, Dragon?” asked Wanda as she came over to Nathan, calling him by his fighting alias.
“Cold Fusion did work for Elsa at one point,” Nathan pointed out. “He'd know how smart she is. Maybe he thinks he can get her to work for him. I wouldn't put something like that passed him, considering he built this massive beast.”
“The city's on high alert,” explained the police chief. “We've got two missing scientists, two frozen superheroes, and an abandoned super weapon. Something tells me that he isn't done yet, and with these two out of commission, you and Judgement Girl are pretty much the only ones we can rely on if the situation goes beyond normal.”
“And unfortunately, that happens a lot around here,” added Judgement Girl.
* * *
Cold Fusion had had plenty of of time to relocate from the clock tower, using a sled to navigate the frozen city while dragging what he'd needed to salvage. His prized possessions included his massive data library, a few energy emitters, a large stasis field generator, and his two kidnapped scientists. Elsa was still frozen solid, her left foot stuck forwards with the rest of her body caught trying to pull away, surprise on her face. Ashley meanwhile had a stasis field emitter clipped to her belt and set on active, Jason having made sure to plug it into his generator so the field wouldn't wear off. She was still frozen in a state of shock, her mouth hanging open with her arms at her sides, elbows fully bent. Sadly Jason had been forced to throw away her pizza.
The destination that Cold Fusion had picked was not random. The city's science museum had in fact been taken over a few months ago by Technomagus following his escape from the secret government lab once again. The robot had used its hypnosis ray to make all the employees ignore him in the building's storage basement, but Jason had made contact with the robot a month ago and the two had begun trading technology. Technomagus had requested black market machines from Cold Fusion and in return he'd gotten schematics on the robot's designs, allowing him to improve upon his own rays and other devices.
Technomagus had been protected from the flash-freeze due to his lab being equipped with a heat shield, similar to the one Elsa had equipped her own lab with. The machine cared little for the turn of events, continuing to develop its own devices when Jason had arrived. After explaining the situation Technomagus had agreed to let Cold Fusion stay, especially when Jason promised that he had a new grand scheme that the robot could get behind.
“This is Elsa Louiselle,” explained Jason, standing up the frozen scientist in the middle of the room. “You should be familiar with her, as I understand you've been by her lab once or twice. I believe that with her help we can finally complete that special weapon you've been working on.” Technomagus analyzed what Cold Fusion had said, and decided his points were logical.
“Who is the other?” asked Technomagus, indicating Ashley, who still lay flat on the sled.
“Ah, I must confess that, though she is a scientist, I brought her merely for sentimental reasons,” admitted Jason. “She is Ashley Cornell, who is talented when it comes to energy projectors but not nearly as valuable as Elsa.”
“Very well then, we must restore her so that we can bring her under our control,” decided Technomagus, who moved to pick up the immobile Elsa while Cold Fusion gently lifted Ashley from the sled.
“Time to wake up,” Cold Fusion said softly as he deactivated Ashley's stasis field emitter. Immediately the young scientist who'd been as stiff as a board went limp and nearly toppled over, surprised at the drastic change of location, not to mention that she now was being held by Jason. “Sorry,” whispered Jason as he leaned in and kissed Ashley once again. The disoriented woman's eyes went wide for a moment before she found herself returning the kiss. The two parted a moment later. “I guess I'm not as bad as you said then?” asked Jason, smiling fondly at Ashley.
“Oh, I still would be happier if you were doing honest work,” admitted Ashley, a smile on her own face. “Still, I'll admit you do have a few charms...” The pair chuckled with happiness, but Technomagus interrupted.
“She's been placed in the capsule,” announced Technomagus. “She will be back to normal in one minute, and then we can begin to work.” Paying no mind to the somewhat romantic scene before him, Technomagus turned and lumbered back to the capsule which Elsa stood in.
“What's the plan now?” asked Ashley, letting go of Jason and stepping back. “I take it your weather machine didn't work out as well as you'd hoped?” Cold Fusion wasn't sure if she was pleased about the possibility or actually worried.
“No, it did, but my former employers decided to pay us a visit and smash it,” confessed Jason, trying to hide his contempt. He did respect Elsa, but he saw Lady Justice as a muscle-bound ditz and Lockdown as a federal airhead. They just couldn't appreciate genius. “I've decided to throw in my lot with Technomagus here for my next experiment, and Elsa's going to help us,” continued Jason. “Technomagus wants to try and rebuild the machine he'd used to create Cyberlady, only this time it won't grant abilities and make the target a complete drone. Effectively, it will allow us to turn anyone into an efficient robotic slave.”
“Well, that's certainly ambitious,” remarked Ashley. The young scientist sighed for a moment, then made her decision. “Alright, I'll help you if I can, but in return I'd like two promises kept: One, you don't turn me into a machine. Two, you take me out for a night on the town, though it probably won't be here.” Ashley smiled a bit at her second request, and Cold Fusion returned it in kind.
“Not a problem,” Jason assured the woman. “For now Technomagus just wants to secure the city, so I figure if after this is over we move to, say, Canada, we might be able to move on.” Cold Fusion was tempted to kiss the woman again when a beep sounded from the capsule which contained Elsa. Immediately the two scientists rushed over just in time to see the door to the capsule open and have a very confused Elsa leaving against the back of it.
“You shall obey,” ordered Technomagus, his red cap retracting to reveal his ray emitter. Immediately the hypnosis ray was fired and Elsa was struck, her mind surrendering to weapon quite rapidly.
“I obey you, master,” droned Elsa, standing up at attention, her eyes glazed with all signs of free though hidden away. Ashley shivered a bit at the sight, but Cold Fusion put an assuring arm around her shoulders.
“Lets get to work,” declared Jason.
* * *
Elsa had been missing for two entire days, and Nathan was beginning to get antsy. He and Judgement Girl had just stopped a mob-related robbery at a jewelry store, the thug being armed with a paralyzing ray. The entire staff had been frozen by the gunman, who'd proceeded to fill a sack with all the jewels he could. Fortunately security had alerted the cops, who'd pulled up only to get zapped themselves. However, Judgement Girl had also gotten the call and given the mobster a taste of his own medicine with the SUV and its stasis field emitter. Victoria had then tagged the thug with a dart, but didn't realize he'd had an accomplice, who had been about to shoot her with his own dart gun. Luckily Nathan had also gotten the call, being on temporary hero alert, and knocked the mobster senseless.
Unfortunately for the people of New Oslo the villains had decided that with Lockdown and Lady Justice out of the way they would have it much easier. Gorgun had attacked a modeling school and Claire, who'd arrived later to try and restore those who'd been petrified, had also been turned to stone. Judgement Girl was now on her way to the scene to try and catch Gorgun as well as help Claire.
Another villain who'd become more active was Nighttime. Lilly had called the cops after spotting the twisted woman entering a high school. Before the cops had managed to chase her off nearly the entire school had been frozen by her bell. Seargent Tilly had reportedly also heard the instrument ring and was immobile as well. To top it off, everyone in the women's clothing section at the Sears had been turned into mannequins, and rumor had it a yellow-skinned man had been caught on camera. Needless to say, times could be better.
An hour later Nathan had gotten a call from the mayor's office, asking him to come in with Judgement Girl, Claire and even Lilly. It seemed the young Anderson girl had gotten a threatening letter which was supposedly from Fire Eyes, and the mayor wanted a report on it along with the rest of the situations. While Gorgun's victims were all back to normal as were those at Sears, the school was still frozen. Half-expecting to be unexpectedly late for his meeting with the mayor due to temporal distortions, Nathan drove off to city hall.
What Nathan saw upon arriving at the central building of the city was not what he'd expected at all. He'd gotten the call not fifteen minutes ago and had assumed everything was fine. Perhaps it had been, but it certainly wasn't now. The steps leading up and into city hall were now dotted with people, but none of them were moving and few were still flesh and blood. It was a virtual blend of living statues, from those who'd been paralyzed to those who'd been frozen solid to those who'd been turned into glass. Among the people who'd been immobilized Nathan spotted Chief Meyers, who now appeared to be solid gold, caught in the process of climbing the steps.
Judgement Girl pulled up a moment later in the SUV, Claire and Lilly also hopping out with the young heroine. “What the heck happened?!” gasped Claire, whom Nathan noted was wearing a T-shirt and capri pants for once.
“It looks like this place has been hit too,” declared Judgement Girl.
“You think so?” said Nathan in a sarcastic tone. “Well, we've got some people in a similar situation to that of Lady Justice and Lockdown, so Cold Fusion is probably here. We've also got a virtual medley of statues, but no wood, mannequins or marble statues. I'm thinking Technomagus is here too.”
“Sounds about right,” agreed Judgement Girl. “We'd better check on the mayor...” Nathan nodded in agreement and the group of four raced up the stairs.
What awaited inside the building was a bit of a shock. Everyone had been expecting more human statues, scattered all throughout the building. Instead there stood Technomagus, along with Cold Fusion, and they were not alone. Beside Jason stood a woman who's body was gray chrome, who's eyes were a solid black mass, and who's hair appeared to be solid gold. It appeared as if she was wearing a sort of suit, but it was the same color and texture of her skin, as were her shoes. It was a face that everyone in the group was familiar, was it was that of Elsa.
“What the hell is this?!” demanded Nathan, but Cold Fusion and Technomagus didn't look like they were planning on answering. Instead Cold Fusion snapped up a raygun and fired at Judgement Girl while Technomagus fired his own head ray at Claire and Lilly. Immediately all three women were frozen in place. Lilly and Claire suddenly became clear and transparent, clothing and all. Lilly was in the middle of stepping backwards, her arms loose at her sides, her face surprisingly neutral. Claire's arms had been up in shock and she had been moving them to her belt to grab her devices when she'd been hit. The two women were now nothing more than glass statues.
It seemed Technomagus didn't want Nathan restoring them his molecular re-sequencing device.
Judgement Girl, meanwhile, had been trying to run forward, her left arm going for her EMP gun, but Cold Fusion's ray did its work and she was frozen in mid-stride, a thick layer of ice and frost coating her and turning her into a fancy winter sculpture. Nathan barely had time to react himself before the ice ray was trained on him. However, the ray didn't freeze him as he'd expected, it merely pushed him into the ground, causing him a great deal of pain.
“Bah, your blasted immunity protects you from my powers too?!” cursed Cold Fusion. Nathan felt like pointing out that he'd been frozen by that giant ray but thought better of it. Still, Claire had said that it was more like an ice cube freezing where as his powers were like being literally turned into ice. Seeing as he wasn't a human ice cube, Nathan assumed his body felt the same way.
“No matter, I can deal with him,” offered Technomagus, training his ray on the collapsed Nathan.
“No no, not yet!” exclaimed Cold Fusion. Reaching into his waistband, Jason produced another ray, this one with a slightly longer barrel than the other. “Just keep that barrel trained on him so he won't try something stupid. I can't resist doing a cliché rant about our little plan, partially because I'm so proud...”
“Just what the hell did you do to Elsa?!” demanded Nathan, eying the transformed scientist with worry. Her appearance reminded him of Cyberlady.
“Why, she's my newest robotic pet,” explained Cold Fusion. “Or, should I say, our new robotic servant. This handy little device I hold here is a perfected variant of our metallic friend here's android creation device. He hypnotized Elsa into helping us, and together, with his initial plans, Elsa's brilliance at compression, and my adaptivity with making ray weapons, we created this. Elsa here was our first test subject, and as you can see it was a smashing success.”
“Aren't you worried she'll be another Cyberlady?” asked Nathan, a desperate plan suddenly coming into his mind. Still, it would be tricky with Technomagus ready to zap him at any time.
“We originally feared it was a flaw in the device, then found out a shocking truth,” explained Jason. “It seems our dear Lilly's genetic mutation is what made her such a renegade when she was transformed. All we have to do is make sure she doesn't get transformed, hence why we didn't just use our new weapon on you four when you came in.”
Just then Nathan heard the distinctive sound of metallic feet hitting the tiled floors of city hall. No one else had been in sight, but now over a dozen androids appeared from around the corner. Among them Nathan could see Mayor Rushmore and Maria Chavez, all who had a similar appearance to that of Elsa. “Ah, they must of finished checking the building,” claimed Technomagus, turning to look at his new army. It had to be about twenty people of mixed gender, all gleaming with chrome bodies. Then Nathan realized Technomagus didn't have the ray pointed at him.
“What, no!” cried Cold Fusion as Nathan jumped up and grabbed the scientist's arm, rolling around behind the man and training the new ray on the statue of Lilly. Hoping he wouldn't regret the decision, Nathan hit Jason's trigger finger, causing the weapon to fire and strike Lilly. Cold Fusion promptly elbowed Nathan and the guy and turned to look in horror had what had just been done. “Oh hell...” muttered Jason.
Lilly's body glowed with a white light for moment which gradually faded as her arms and legs showed signs of movement, the woman moving to stand at attention. When the light faded, the familiar and dreaded black chrome body with golden hair stood before the group. “I am Cyberlady,” declared the newly transformed Lilly. “I live again.”
The nightmare that is Cyberlady has returned! Will the city survive the robotic villain's return?
To be continued in Battle Royal...