It was now Fall in New Oslo, and much had happened since the last time the season had come about. Roughly one year ago Elsa Louiselle and Lady Justice had founded the superhero business in the city. A month later Judgement Girl was recruited, as was Jason Humington. It wasn't until late April that they encountered their first villain, the disturbed art student Gorgun, who'd been hired by gangsters to kidnap certain individuals. Gorgun had been arrested by escaped a merely two weeks later, assisted by Jason, who in turn became known as Cold Fusion.
In early June the robot known as Technomagus had escaped the secret military facility below the city. Not long afterwards he captured Lilly Anderson and turned her into Cyberlady, a female android who was considered the greatest threat to the city. Lilly was restored to her human self but Technomagus escaped custody, as did all other villains. In addition to Gorgun, Technomagus, and Cold Fusion, villains such as Tick and Tock, Mister Mannequin, Dungeon Master and Fire Eyes were still in hiding. Even worse, Nighttime, a woman who claimed to be the avatar of an old god, was constantly being connected with incidents during the night. Though some gangs and terrorist cells had been busted, the real villains of the city were still on the loose.
It was in the early days of September that Cold Fusion, a villain who'd been working quietly behind the scenes since as far back as May, was finally on the verge of completing his master plan. Cold Fusion had taken up residence in the local clock tower, having bribed its maintenance crew. As Jason had helped invent and patent the stasis field emitters that were now common to the FBI and other government agencies, he was constantly receiving a portion of the profits from his stock broker, who also invested some of it. Jason had also operated a sort of black market for other villains, selling them equipment so they wouldn't have to risk stealing it. However, Jason's biggest profit had come a month ago when Nighttime had frozen nearly the entire city with her bell, allowing him to rob three banks and steal a great deal of other things.
Perhaps the greatest prize in all of Cold Fusion's possession, however, was the woman he'd kidnapped from the crime lab. Ashley Cornell, a young scientist only a few years older than Jason, had learned a great deal during the time that Gorgun had been captured by studying her ray. Though Jason had designed the weapon, Ashley had managed to use the design and create plans for a much larger ray emitter. Jason had stolen documents from the police station which detailed plans to create a massive stasis field emitter, one capable of freezing entire city blocks. When Nighttime had frozen the city, Cold Fusion had also paid a visit to the crime lab, nabbing Ashley and her research.
“I don't suppose I could get some dinner anytime soon?” asked Ashley from her makeshift cell within the clock tower. The cute young woman, who possessed short blond bangs and strong blue eyes, had just been released from the stasis field Jason kept active in her cell for twenty hours a day. Cold Fusion enjoyed the system, as he rarely had to worry about the needs of his guest. He'd only gotten her two changes of clothes for the month they'd been there and still not needed to do laundry. Needless to say, he was also treating his prisoner well.
“Here you go,” replied Jason, handing Ashley a tray of food. On it was a bottle of water, some vegetable sticks and a couple of slices of vegetarian pizza. Since Jason's total assets were in the hundred millions he didn't mind giving his prisoner something other than stale bread, though he hadn't had time to cook lately.
Grateful, Ashley took the tray and bit into one of the pizza slices. “You almost done your little doomsday device?” she asked casually between chews.
“Now now, I wouldn't call it a doomsday weapon,” replied Cold Fusion, chuckling at the idea. “If I did, I would agree with the use of 'little' in describing it. It isn't a Death Star, but it will do for the experiment...”
“What's the point of making the thing anyways?” asked Ashley, taking a sip of water. “I mean, I do admire your drive and dedication, don't get me wrong. But you are a criminal, and wanted by the FBI as well as the police. What good will it do you if no one will buy it?”
“No one in this country,” corrected Jason, leaning against the cell's bars and wagging his right index finger. “Don't be so quick to dismiss me as a lunatic. I'm working to create exciting new technologies, and at the expense of becoming a criminal in one country I gain funding much easier and quicker than I could if I'd been working with the government. Seriously, how long would it of taken you to build your own giant ray with government funds.”
Ashley had by this point put down the tray on the small table her cell contained, only holding the pizza slice she was working on eating. “I'll give you that, I suppose,” admitted Ashley. “Still, if you don't have a genetic mutation or special device that can even stop superheroes, it-” The young scientist was cut off as Cold Fusion rapidly shoved his hands through the bars and pulled her closer, his own lips meeting hers. It was awkward as both had their faces more or less pressed against the bars, but Ashley was too stunned to notice. She was realized a moment later and stood there stunned, her mouth hanging open.
“Hold that thought,” Jason told her, hitting the button that reactivated the stasis field. Immediately Ashley was frozen, the slice of pizza in her left hand, her right empty, a look of sheer stunned shock on her face. “Mmph, I think the pizza made that all the better,” chuckled Cold Fusion as he moved away from the cell. The truth was he was quite fond of Ashley, finding her to be a good intellectual match and a good conversationalist, at least on the few occasions where they didn't talk about how crazy his plans were. He just hoped his new invention wouldn't force them to part, which is why he'd kissed her just then, just in case that became a reality.
Ever since going into his own as a villain, Cold Fusion had been working on a way to harness the weather. He'd eventually determined how to create a ray capable of causing a blizzard, but it was too small to prove useful, causing snow to fall only over a single house, and not nearly at the temperature he wanted. Fortunately with Ashley's designs for a giant ray emitter Jason had found a way to harness his invention properly. However, not only would the ray cause a great deal of snow to fall, but with the addition of his own genetic material would make the blizzard literally freeze all that was covered by the storm.
Preparations complete, Cold Fusion hit the button on his remote which retracted the the face of the clock tower, not too much but enough so that the barrel of the aptly named Focused Blizzard Ray would hit the desired target point. Jason glanced at Ashley once more, who still stood frozen in her cell. “I hope everyone's got their mittens handy,” he joked as he pressed the button..
* * *
Judgement Girl was sitting outside Starbucks with her new boyfriend Dan Masters. The young heroine wasn't aware that two weeks ago he'd gained powers and become Dungeon Master. Fortunately for her Dan had decided to only use his powers on rare occasions, and even learned how to take off his sunglasses without having them wear off. Victoria, completely oblivious to the fact that the only reason she was interested in Dan was because of mind control, was happily telling him some gossip. “So I was talking to Nathan today and you'll never guess what he's thinking of doing!” exclaimed Vicky as Dan listened intently, sipping his coffee. “He actually went and bought an engagement ring! He isn't sure when to give it to her, but it looks like he and Jessica just might have a future together...”
“That's nice to hear,” offered Dan, actually not too interested in such things, but none the less interested in Vicky and thus what she was talking about. The two continued to chat for a few minutes until Vicky felt a snowflake land on her arm. Looking up, Victoria and Dan saw that it had begun to snow. “That's odd,” muttered Dan. “It's only September. Heck, we only get snow for three months anyhow.” Paying no mind to the few innocent flakes, the young couple went back to their conversation.
About a minute after the snow began to fall, however, no one was able to ignore it, as a sudden shock-wave of freezing temperatures near that of absolute zero shot throughout the city, aided by a gust of wind created by the Focused Blizzard Ray. People had little time to react as their blood froze in their veins and their body functions abruptly halted as well. Dan's coffee became a solid as Vicky, who'd been using her hands to help enforce what she was saying, had icicles form on her fingertips and arms, a thin layer of ice covering her body as she went into a form of hibernation.
Throughout the streets and buildings of New Oslo people were flash-frozen, their bodies hibernating as layers of ice formed around them and snow continued to fall. Cars became frozen to the roads, birds fell to earth while resembling sculptures from a contemporary art museum. Lilly had been at home in her family mansion, ironically sitting beside the fire place while going over one of her books from law school, and became fixed to the chair as layers of ice coated her. Elsa had asked Claire to go pick-up the Chinese take-out for dinner and had been frozen with the money in her hands, handing it to the restaurant's cashier. Nathan had been driving down the road in his open-top car when he too had become a living ice sculpture.
When the Focused Blizzard Ray had been fired Elsa's computer had detected it. She was in the lab with Lady Justice and Lockdown, having them help test a new paralysis ray which could use a sort of anti-gravity field to reel in a target once captured. An alarm had gone off and Elsa had raced to the terminal with Lockdown, leaving Lady Justice, who'd been struck by the new ray while standing straight with her hands on her hips, in her immobilized state. “Uh oh!” cried Elsa. “Something or someone has caused a meteorological disturbance!”
“What does that mean?!” demanded Lockdown, suddenly concerned. Lady Justice could offer no input, being frozen in place and, as the paralysis ray was based on a stasis field, unable to process a thought.
“It means we'd better activate the lab's environmental shield!” Elsa explained in a panicked voice. “I made the thing years ago but it never seemed to have a use save against lightning strikes, seeing as it can't do anything about heavy wind!” Elsa typed a few keys and Lockdown heard a device somewhere in the lab click on.
“So will we be safe?” asked Lockdown.
“Only if whatever it is that's going on doesn't involve a hurricane or tornado,” muttered Elsa as she tried to figure out the nature of the problem. “Dear god, the temperatures outside have dropped to over one hundred below zero on the celsius scale!”
“A blizzard?!” gasped Lockdown. “Good thing you turned on the shield, otherwise we might of froze to death...”
“Not quite,” replied Elsa. “According to scans, everything outside the lab has been flash-frozen. All living things are in a state of hibernation, even those that don't normally do such a thing. They'll be alright, at least for now, but I don't know if there's any way to undo this...”
Lockdown sighed and stepped away from Elsa to let her work. It was then that she finally realized they'd left Lady Justice paralyzed and quickly fired the reversal beam, causing Lady Justice to blink and look around in confusion. “Why are you guys over there?” asked the heroine. Lockdown brought her up to speed while Elsa worked at her terminal.
“I've got it!” Elsa cried half a minute later. “An energy beam was directed at the clouds above the city and they became altered to produce snow. However, the beam also seemed to influence local wind and created some sort of temperature wave that swept over the city, which is what froze everything. Only one person could of found a way to make temperatures that low in secret...”
“Jason!” exclaimed Lady Justice. “Of course, his freezing power! Let's figure out where he is and shut down that machine!”
“That won't be too hard,” replied Elsa. “The beam needs to remain in constant generation, at least at this point. I've backtracked to the source, which is located in the old clock tower.”
“We really need to check the old, supposedly abandoned buildings more thoroughly,” muttered Lockdown. “So what will happen if we go outside, past the shield you put up? Will we freeze too?”
“Only if Jason touches you, unless he's invented a ray that copies his powers,” explained Elsa. “Still, you may want to put on some warm clothes, since we need to somehow hike a kilometer in a frozen urban wonderland in temperatures around fifty below zero...”
* * *
It took the two heroines and their scientist companion a good thirty minutes to get properly equipped before departing. The initial problem was that no amount of clothing would be enough to keep them warm for the hike, so Elsa had modified a few personal shielding devices to emit heat, allowing them to walk around in their normal outfits. The shields could resist temperatures up to one hundred below zero, but unfortunately Cold Fusion's power could go even blow that, so they'd have to be careful.
Ready to go, the three encountered their first problem as soon as they opened the lab door. While it had been protected, the rest of the building had been frozen solid, ice coating the floors, walls and ceilings. This made doors hard to open and soon Lady Justice had to alternate between floating to avoid slipping and using brute force to smash open frozen doors.
As the group moved, Lockdown looked up at Lady Justice. “Don't think like that,” she told the other heroine. Lockdown was telepathic, and had just sensed her friend's fears about Nathan and Judgement Girl.
“It's hard not to, since for once I'm not a victim of the bad guy's power or weapon,” Lady Justice pointed out, attempting some lame humor to get herself to relax. Of course, Lockdown reading her mind wasn't helping.
“Sorry,” offered Lockdown, hearing Lady Justice's thought about the mind-reading. “Oops!” she added next, and this time they both laughed.
After a good forty minutes of slips, slides, and falls, the trio finally stood before the clock tower. Looking up they could see their target: the Focused Blizzard Ray. The weapon was still firing at the sky, the blizzard having not become self-sustaining yet. The heroines were just glad that the heat shields they carried were melting the snow that hit their skin, making it only a problem when it obscured their vision. “Lets trash that thing,” said Lady Justice.
“Can't you fly up there from here?” suggested Lockdown, hoping not to embarrass the superhero.
“Not with winds like this,” answered Lady Justice. “The problem is when I fly I'm as light as a feather, making as easy to get blown around as a feather. Lets just take the stairs.”
Jason was working busily to ensure that the ray would not give out before the artificial blizzard was complete. He hadn't realized that the addition of his genetic power to the machine would cause the city to freeze so fast, but he considered that an added bonus. Since the shock-wave had covered the entire city in a few seconds, he felt confident that he was the only one unaffected. He was just getting the newest batch of data to print when he found out just how wrong he was in his sense of security.
“Give it up, Jason!” roared Lady Justice as she kicked open the door to the room, causing it to fly against the Focused Blizzard Ray. Cold Fusion locked up in surprise as Lockdown emerged from behind Lady Justice and fired her ray. Jason was hit, but as a scientist he had taken the time to develop a special immunity device to combat stasis fields and paralysis rays, this he was not stunned.
“Now to face the winter of my displeasure!” taunted Cold Fusion, reaching for his own ray, the new hand-held ice one he'd created before the Focused Blizzard Ray. Elsa was ready, however, and fired a dart from a tranquilizer gun at her former assistant. She missed Jason but encouraged him to seek cover. Cold Fusion dove behind the ray, as it was the only real cover he had besides his terminals. Lady Justice increased her mass to near floor-cracking portions and lumbered over to the ray, promptly driving her fist through the base of it.
“Time to warm things up!” retorted Lady Justice for the earlier quip. Instantly the focused beam that was directed at the heavens ceased, causing the blizzard to begin to dissipate.
“Curse you!” roared Cold Fusion. The mad scientist ducked under his machine and lashed out at Lady Justice, managing to grab her left ankle before she could get clear. The heroine's eyes went wide as Jason's freezing touch kicked in, causing her leg to go numb as ice formed around it. Down on one knee, Lady Justice wrapped her arms around herself as she felt the chill go higher up her spine until she could no longer move, a complete ice sculpture.
Unfortunately for Cold Fusion Elsa was given enough time to fire again and a dart struck him in the right arm. Lockdown eyed him suspiciously but felt his mind fade out, indicating the tranquilizer had worked. Sure enough, Jason collapsed right next to the newly frozen Lady Justice. “Sweet dreams,” whispered Elsa.
“Ugh, remind me never to let you be the one to take out the bad guy,” muttered Lockdown, not a fan of the cliché. Looking outside the two women saw that the snow had ceased, the clouds already parting in favor of the early September sun. “So should this get the town back to normal?” Stephanie asked next, concerned about all the people who were still frozen.
“Now that the blizzard has stopped, yes,” answered Elsa moving to the still form of Cold Fusion. “The lab's environmental shield should be able to reverse the effects for the entire city in a few hours, though I wish Lady Justice hadn't smashed the ray. It may have been dangerous, but it really was impressive...”
Just then, as Elsa bent over Cold Fusion, Lockdown felt something. “Look out!” she cried, but it was too late. Jason suddenly snapped up and grabbed both women by the leg, causing Elsa to drop her gun. Both were immediately held in place and quickly lost conscious thought as they were frozen solid. Elsa's arms and free leg where back in a vain attempt to shake loose, her face full of alarm. Lockdown wasn't much different, her left fist raised as if trying to punch her captor.
Cold Fusion chuckled in triumph and stood. The dart that had hit his arm had become frozen with only enough tranquilizer getting into his system to make him dizzy. Knowing Lockdown was a psychic, Jason had decided to play possum until the moment was right.
“Well now, it looks like I'm the better strategist too, huh Elsa?” Jason taunted as he mocked the frozen scientist. “This isn't the first or second but third time I've managed to slip past any safeguards you prepared.”
Glancing at Elsa's belt Jason saw the heating unit, which had overloaded due to Jason's touch, though it had given those who'd worn it a couple more seconds before freezing up entirely, hence why they could react.
Next Cold Fusion examined the Focused Blizzard Ray, and immediately started cursed. “Fuck you, Wendell!” roared Jason, turning and giving the frozen Lady Justice the finger. “Thanks to your heavy fists it'll take me a week to fix this! Since the city will be unfrozen before long I now have to abandon it! Dammit, you'll pay!” Steamed, Jason tried to decided what to do. Then he came up with a way to salvage from the disaster.
Grinning, Cold Fusion walked over to Elsa wrapped his arms around her waist, dragging her towards the cell where Ashley was still frozen. “You're going to have company,” he told his first captive.
With the city still needing time to warm up, Cold Fusion is guaranteed to escape! But what plans does he have for his captives?
To be continued in Robotic Revolution...