New Oslo was quite literally in a frozen state following the appearance of the woman known as Nighttime on the evening news. The woman, in reality Saeko Tachibana the former reporter, had infiltrated the news building using her magic bell which froze all who heard it. The villain had then proceeded to hijack the broadcast and made sure all televisions and radios heard the announcement of her arrival, promptly using the bell to freeze nearly the entire city.
It was hours before the power of the bell wore off, leading a temporary increase in thefts, accidents and other crimes. Since the broadcast had covered police radio frequencies, nearly every police officer in the city had been rendered useless for a few hours. Jessica Wendell, the city's resident superhero, had been frozen while in bed with her boyfriend Nathan. What's more was her sidekick Victoria Hamilburg had been frozen at a club while in the company of her friend Lilly, both paralyzed while in the middle of a dance. Even Elsa Louiselle and Claire Greenfield, the two scientists that assisted and equipped the heroes, had been frozen since their radio had been turned on.
Needless to say by the time everyone had recovered from the bell's effect there was a period of chaos. Hospitals were filled with injuries, police spent the next while hunting down newly risen thieves. Even worse was that the villain known as Cold Fusion had not heard the broadcast and been free to do as he pleased. The mad scientist had broken into Elsa's lab and stolen some of her devices. What's more is Cold Fusion had also invaded a couple of banks and made off with a great deal of money. Unfortunately due to the petty crimes no manhunt could be started for the scientist at the moment.
Hours after the power of the bell had faded peace finally seemed to return to the city. It was at this time that Victoria and Lilly were at the latter's home, picking out dresses to wear to the charity ball. Lilly was fingering a yellow dress in her closet while Judgement Girl admired a fine black one. “Are you really fine with letting me borrow one?” asked Vicky as she pulled the dress out of the closet pulled it against the front of her body as she looked into a mirror. “I mean, I do have a couple of nice ones at home I could wear...”
“This is high society, Vicky,” Lilly reminded her friend. “I'm not saying your dresses are ugly, but you should really try to look your best, which is easier when you have more to choose from.” Lilly took another look at the dress she held and nodded. “I'll take this one tonight,” she decided. “You'd better hurry in choose, because we've only got an hour until the driver will be here to pick us up...”
Little did Lilly know that her driver had been unfortunate enough to encounter Cold Fusion as he fled a third bank, the villain having not realized that the magic Nighttime had used had worn off. The driver had been frozen by Cold Fusion's own power and she was now in the care of the hospital, the limo meanwhile stolen by the villain.
Sure enough, an hour later Lilly descended the stairs of her mansion dressed in a very elegant yellow dress. The two straps went around the back of the neck, showing a generous amount of back and a modest amount of cleavage. To complement it Lilly wore blue dress shoes, a diamond necklace with matching earrings and carried a leather purse. Victoria, meanwhile, wore a more traditional dress that stopped below the knees only offered a hint of cleavage, no real back exposed at all. She wore her leather heeled boots with the dress, which despite Lilly's initial objections turned out to be a good combination. At her insistence she also wore her heroine uniform underneath the dress instead of traditional undergarments. “I just want to be ready in case something happens again,” explained Vicky.
“I'm not going to argue,” replied Lilly as the pair passed through the front doors. The plan was that the limo would be waiting for the pair right outside, so Lilly was understandably confused when neither the car nor the driver were present. “Someone just got her ass fired,” muttered Lilly as she reached into her purse and pulled out her cell phone. “I was hoping we'd only arrive a few minutes after the doors opened, but it looks like we could be really late now...”
* * *
In hopes that the city could recover from the shock of events of the previous night, Mayor Rushmore had encouraged the charity ball to continue. The night's events included a bachelor and bachelorette auction as well as other such events. Other guests besides the mayor included Miguel Chavez, James Anderson and Robert Oliver, all local entrepreneurs with daughters roughly the same age. Maria Chavez was currently enrolled in a modeling school while Jennifer Oliver attended law school with Lilly and Victoria. Elsa Louiselle had gotten an invitation but declined, too sidetracked by the arrival of the new villain.
The ball began at six when guests began to arrive. In light of the recent attack by Nighttime extra police had been called in, including Chief Meyers. By seven the building was filled with at least one hundred guests and another thirty people charged with security or catering. It seemed to be going well as the bachelorette auction began.
Standing guard to the dressing room where the women who would be auctioned off stayed were recently promoted sergeants Tilly and Davies. Despite some odd experiences together the pair remained partners and, though no one else in the force knew, had gotten intimately involved. Carl was a bit too busy thinking about what had happened between him and his partner the night before, as was Alice, since they'd been frozen in bed together, just like Lady Justice and Nathan. Thanks to their wandering minds neither police officer noticed the small cloud of gas near their feet, only to inhale it when it rushed up into their nostrils.
Nighttime had of course known of the ball, it having been a major news item for the past week, and decided to attack. She'd waited until the guests had arrived and then decided to make a flashy entrance. Smiling, the villain walked to the door guarded by the two uniformed officers and neither batted an eye, both immobilized by the avatar's gas. With no interruptions, Nighttime opened the door and entered the dressing room.
The women in the room, some models, though most pursued more noble professions, had no time to react to the presence of Nighttime before they all breathed in a different cloud of gas and instantly fell asleep. A speaker box in the room was announcing the next bachelorette, so Nighttime headed for the curtain, stepping over two slumbering women as she did so and preparing another cloud of immobilizing gas.
Mayor Rushmore had been the one using the microphone and had been standing next to the curtain, her free hand directed towards the entrance while her other held the microphone to her mouth. No one near the stage had a chance to even react in surprise as the gas washed over them, entering their bodies and causing them to be instantly frozen in place. The people more towards the back of the room had a bit more time, but few had been able to do more than widen their eyes before they too stopped moving. In less than three seconds the entire ballroom had been filled with the magic gas and Nighttime laughed in triumph.
The avatar stood beside the mayor for a moment, looking at the older woman with a smug expression before plucking the microphone from her grasp and pushing Paula, causing her to land on her back but remain in the same pose. Nearby also stood Chief Meyers, who's arms were crossed with a neutral expression while she wore a black china dress with a picture of a red rose on it. Nighttime proceeded to push Wanda over too. The villain then turned to face the frozen audience and held the microphone close to her lips. “Your so-called structure of power is a joke,” declared Nighttime. “With ease I just toppled two of the most powerful people in your city. You all represent the plague that humanity suffers from. You delude yourselves by thinking only of wealth, catching aside your faith and values for something that can so fleeting. I have been sent to punish you for your foolish actions.”
Nighttime cast aside the microphone and stepped off the stage, only to float in the air, just above the heads of the crowd. The avatar then called up a gust of wind which plucked up the helpless Maria Chavez, the beautiful Latino woman wearing a short purple and red strapless dress. Maria hung in the air near Nighttime, her face showing a heart-warming smile as she stood in a neutral pose, having not been given time to react to the appearance of the villain. “You all praise women such as this,” spat Nighttime, stepping to circle Maria, though she stood only on air. “You worship beauty as well as money, and use your fortunes to try and buy it. You have become lost to simple pleasures and temptations.”
With that Maria was dropped to the ground, crashing into four other people and all of them toppling over like mannequins. Nighttime paid no heed and returned to the stage. “My powers have trapped you here, and here you shall stay for quite some time,” the villain announced. “You will have nothing to do but sit here for weeks, months, perhaps even years, only to contemplate your fate while I return the others of the city to the proper faith.” Indeed, while everyone had been frozen, they were still conscious, though unable to even blink.
Outside the building, unaware of any problems, Lilly and Vicky had arrived, Nathan and Jessica having given them a ride in Nathan's new car. “Thanks for the ride,” said Lilly in appreciation. All of her friends had been busy or already at the ball, as was her father.
“No problem,” replied Nathan from the driver's seat of the convertible. “I knew I'd need to haul people around again, I'm just glad you guys are mobile.” The group laughed at that statement.
“Why don't you guys come in for a few minutes?” suggested Victoria. “There's free food, plus Mr. Anderson did invite you in the first place...” It was true that James had invite both superheroes following their rescue of Lilly when she'd been turned into Cyberlady. Originally Jessica had been planning to go on patrol instead, and Nathan hadn't been keen on going without her.
“Since we're here, why not?” decided Jessica, getting out of the car. She was still dressed in her superhero outfit, as she was beginning to feel like it was always needed. Nathan wasn't exactly dressed right either, wearing a sleeveless shirt and a pair of blue slacks. None the less Lilly had no objections and the four headed inside.
Nighttime had just made her way into the lobby of the building, checking to make sure the people there were also frozen by her magic. Sure enough the police there were all immobilized, as was a female caterer who was carrying a tray of calamari. Nighttime had stopped to pluck some of the food from the tray when the four late arrivals entered, causing her to drop the finger food and get it and cocktail sauce on the frozen caterer's white blouse. “So the city's so-called defenders have come!” cried Nighttime floating off the ground and glaring at the new arrivals with a look that could kill.
“Saeko!” cried Lady Justice as she went into a fighting stance. Victoria ducked down to pull off the dress covering her uniform while Nathan's fists shot up and Lilly put a hand to her face in fear for her father, her other out wide.
“My name is NIGHTTIME!” screamed the avatar as a bell suddenly appeared in her hands. Before anyone could react the instrument rang out and the four froze in place, their consciouses fading, unlike those exposed to the gas. “You cannot challenge me!” cackled Nighttime. “I am the chosen one of Shina-To-Be! You shall be punished for this!”
Elsa and Claire had chosen an inopportune time to arrive, having detected Nighttime earlier and coming to help if they could. As the pair entered Nighttime unleashed a cloud of gas upon them which she'd been planning to use on the other four. Elsa and Claire both reacted in horror as the gas entered their lungs. For a second neither said a word, but nothing had happened.
“What did you...” muttered Elsa, only then to realize her feet were stuck to the floor. Looking down, Elsa saw in horror that her feet, shoes and all, had turned to stone. “No!” cried Claire, slowly losing mobility and watching in horror as her hands turned to stone before her eyes.
The scientist struggled to move but a moment later the petrification had reached her head and she became a full statue. Elsa hadn't gotten better off, managing only one last scream as she too was completely turned to stone.
“Now you four shall join them,” announced Nighttime. “My magic will turn you all to stone forever. Without anyone to come use your trusted science to restore you, you'll remain as statues until the end of time.” Nighttime prepared to form another cloud of the gas, feeling invincible.
“I don't think so,” called a calm voice. Then a white ray shot forth from the avatar's left and struck Nighttime, instantly causing her to drop her bell as she felt her muscles lock up. The villain then fell to the floor, no longer floating. Her mind then faded out as if falling asleep.
From the kitchen doors appeared a tall and very attractive woman in a shimmering blue dress. She had wavy brown hair with the occasional strand which was a bit lighter, hazelnut eyes, crimson lips and a rather perky pair of breasts. The woman also wore black heeled boots like the ones Judgement Girl wore, though since the heroine was completely frozen she couldn't notice. In her hands the woman held a black raygun.
As soon as Nighttime had lost consciousness those frozen by the gas began to slowly regain their movement. The mysterious new arrival noticed this most in the waitress, who'd proceeded to pluck the calamari from her blouse. The two women turned to stone also regained their natural color and molecular coding, becoming flesh and blood once more. Both looked around in confusion as the mystery woman approached them.
“My name is Stephanie Walters,” explained the woman, holstering her weapon in a hidden strap on her left thigh. “I'm also known as Lockdown. I'm with the FBI. You're Doctor Louiselle, correct?”
Elsa, still recovering from being turned into a statue once more, managed to nod. “Yes I am,” she managed. “I take it you were responsible for getting us back to normal?”
“That woman's power appears to only work when she's conscious,” explained Lockdown. “Since she'd figured you'd never go back to normal, I'd say she doesn't sleep naturally anymore. Still, it seems that bell of hers works differently.” The FBI agent nodded at Lady Justice, Judgement Girl, Nathan and Lilly, who all still stood frozen in the lobby. The ballroom was now alive with sounds of confusion. “I'll go explain to them what happened, we can talk more later,” said Stephanie as she headed to deal with the crowd. “You two keep an eye on Nighttime. I'm sure you can ask an officer or two to cover her with tranquilizer guns or something until I get back...”
* * *
The FBI had, in recent years, founded a team of agents that possessed genetic mutations. Stephanie Walters had become able to read minds, even manipulate them in a subtle way. Following the recent appearance of super-powered villains in New Oslo, the FBI had decided to send Stephanie in to try and capture them so they could be studied. She'd arrived at the ball shortly after Nighttime and decided to hide until she could use her paralyzing raygun to take down the avatar.
The four frozen by the magic bell were unfortunately stuck in their frozen state until the effects wore off, for Elsa discovered none of her devices would help them. She and Claire decided to take the four back to the lab using Elsa's van, thus keeping them safe while they remained in the vulnerable state.
Two hours later Lockdown was in a prisoner escort van with the paralyzed Nighttime, the latter in the typical bulletproof glass cell. The cell had also been equipped with a stasis field to ensure the prisoner could not try to escape. However, the FBI hadn't counted on someone breaking into the van from the outside, though the vehicle had been given an escort.
The transport van suddenly stopped in the middle of the road, as did the four escort cars. The brakes had not been applied, but Tick and Tock had frozen time for the entire area. Moving quickly the two goblins opened the doors to the truck and stepped inside to where Lockdown sat, completely frozen in time. Tick snatched the keys to the cell from Stephanie's hidden leg-strap and passed it to Tock, who in turn deactivated the cell's stasis field and opened the door. Immediately Nighttime blinked and took stock on the situation. “What do you two want?” demanded the avatar.
“Our master sends his greetings!” exclaimed Tick. “He does not wish for us to be enemies, and to show it sent us to free you!”
Nighttime smiled and bent down, picking up both Tick and Tock. “Thank you, little demons,” said Nighttime in a somewhat sexy voice, kissing each one on the forehead. “Perhaps I should not be so rash to dismiss you after all, since your power does seem to exceed my own...”
Continued in An Unlikely Alliance...