The Annoyingly Amazing Lisa: Thunderbolt Trickster! [fic]

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The Annoyingly Amazing Lisa: Thunderbolt Trickster! [fic]

Postby Alice Macher » Sun Jul 04, 2010 6:27 pm

From a concept by Damocles:

Damocles wrote:Anticipating new "Thunderbolt Lisa" superhero spinoff comic....You know you wannit.

Issue #1 (Also available with collectible Stan-hair variant cover!)


When not so mild-mannered Lisa Winklemeyer showed up for her volunteer shift at the animal shelter, her friends were less than pleased.

"What. The #@$*. Are you wearing?" said the even less mild-mannered Penny.

"Lisa," said Aggie, "have you forgotten we're shunning Stan after what he did to Brandi?"

"I haven't forgotten. The thing is, our washing machine broke down this morning, and this--" Lisa indicated her form-fitting white t-shirt with "s"-shaped lightning-bolt insignia and blue short-shorts bearing the same pattern-- "is all I had left to wear."

"And what about that?" said Penny, jabbing repeatedly at Lisa's red baseball cap sporting yet another lightning bolt logo, two locks of light-brown stage hair, and two copper lightning bolts protruding from either side of the locks.

"Shrug. Our shower head's busted too. Couldn't wash my hair."

Aggie sighed. "Fine. Whatever. Let's get to work."

Inside the shelter, Penny was soon on cloud nine playing with the cats, while Aggie poured out chow for the dogs. Lisa found a cage with an occupant she hadn't seen before. "Hel-lo! What's this? Looks like...heyo, it's a coyote cub. They must've found it in the ravine or something. D'aww."

She sniffed and scrunched up her nose. "Ew! And it needs a bath like whoa. I'll do the honors, I guess." She filled a tub with tepid water, grabbed soap and a brush, and took the cub out of its cage. "Okay, Wile E., let's get you clean." The coyote, however, had other ideas. No sooner had the water reached its paws than it bit Lisa on the arm, then ran and jumped back in its cage, which Aggie promptly shut. "OW! Mother *#@er!" said Lisa, loudly enough to set all the dogs barking.

A woman in her mid-thirties, wearing a lab coat and sensible shoes, ran in. "What's wrong?"

Lisa told her.

"Tsk. You should've asked before handling that cub. It's a new genetically-engineered specimen, with enhanced trickster capabilities, we've been looking after for the college research department until it's ready for testing."

"Testing?" said Aggie between clenched teeth.

"Not now, Ag. Let it go," said Penny, placing a gentle but firm hand on her shoulder. Aggie, distracted by a sudden, not-unpleasant tingling sensation, forgot what had set her off.

"Well, no harm done," said the woman. "Looks as though the critter's safely back in its cage. I'll just get the first-aid kit for that bite of yours."

When their shift was over, the girls walked out with Penny, who had offered them a lift home. As they approached the long slope up to her car, an unexpected thunderstorm broke out. "Aagh! My new suede jacket," said Penny. "Run! C'mon!" They struggled uphill, as the lightning grew brighter and more frequent, the thunder faster and louder. Finally, out of breath, Penny drew near the car and beeped it open. ""

"I' Where's...Lisa? ...Lis?"

They turned around. Lisa, two yards down, had tripped over her shoelace and lightly skinned her knee. "I'm--ow--okay. Let me just pick myself up--there. Boy, this just isn't my--"

A blast of lightning struck her, causing the copper "s"-es on her cap to glow. An instant later, a blinding yellow light engulfed her, shutting her out from view.

"LISAAAAA!" said her friends, shielding their eyes. Then, almost as soon as it began, the storm ceased. Slowly, cautiously, Penny and Aggie lowered their hands from their faces and looked. In the spot where Lisa had stood, there was now only a smoldering badge with a head-shot of Stan.

"," said Penny, turning pale.

"Oh God. best friend," said Aggie. She fell to her knees and shook a fist at the distant, silent heavens. "Why her? Take me instead. Take meee..."

Wait a minute, thought Penny. Since when does lightning completely disintegrate what it hits?

Aggie was inconsolable, and more than a tad irritating. "You!" she said, pointing upward. "I only just recently got over my mom, and now you had to go and take Lisa!"

"You called?" said a familiar voice behind them.

Penny and Aggie turned. There, hovering two feet high in front of them, was Lisa.

"Lisa!" said Aggie. "Oh, I could kiss you."

"Nah, you had your chance. But still, wooo! What a rush. All this power inside of me. Check it." She did a quick barrel roll, then touched her feet to the ground, lifted Penny's car above her head, and posed as if she were about to throw it.

"Don't you dare!" said Penny, hands upside her face in horror. "I haven't finished paying that off yet."

"Just kidding. Why would I waste time tossing cars around like some guy on the cover of a 1938 comic, when I can use my new electro-genetic powers to fight crime wherever it may rear its lame-ass head? For with great power comes great irrepressibility!"

"Uh, I don't think that's how it goes," said Aggie.

"Shut up, shut up. Lemme think. I have the super-abilities; I have the costume (though I think I'll lose the Stan-hair, which doesn't really fit my new shtick); now I just need a sobriquet. Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot. Well, a bit less cowardly if they're packin'. Still. My name must be able to strike terror into their hearts. Hm, maybe something having to do with that which gave me my powers. Howww abouuut...Big Flashy-Thing Coyote? Nah."

"How about Zeus Lykaios, an epithet for the Greek thunder god in his canine aspect? I could write you some publicity sonnets," said Aggie.

"Nnnno. But thanks."

Penny thought for a moment. "What about just Thunderbolt Trickster?"

"Perfect! Way to go, Pen. I shall become a Thunderbolt Trickster!"

"Hmph. No one ever likes my classical poetry," said Aggie under her breath.

And thus was born this weird figure of the dye...this annoyingly amazing (or is it amazingly annoying?) avenger of evil, Thunderbolt Trickster.

Next Ish: The Case of the Lax Lambaster!
Last edited by Alice Macher on Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Valerie » Sun Jul 04, 2010 7:16 pm

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Postby Damocles » Tue Jul 06, 2010 4:06 am

100% Grade-A USDA-Approved Awesome.

Thank you, thank you so much.
I'm now convinced that if you play Pat Benatar's "Crimes of Passion" over Penny and Aggie it'll totally synch up.
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Postby Alice Macher » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:57 pm

Issue #2

Greetings, true deceivers! Last ish, we saw teenage Lisa Winklemeyer miraculously gifted with the proportional mischief-making power of a coyote and the proportional strength of lightning. And she can fly and junk too. Taking the name Thunderbolt Trickster, she has sworn to fight crime wherever it lays its hat, that's my home--I mean wherever it rears its head. And so she embarks on her first mission...


"She awake yet?" said Aggie as Thunderbolt Trickster stepped into the gray-walled corridor of the ICU at Saint Sinai Hospital (it was a merger and that was the best name they could come up with, okay?).

"Nope, still comatose. Whoever whacked her with that lacrosse stick really had it in for her."

"Y'ask me, they didn't whack her enough," said Penny. "Shoulda finished the job."

"Hey!" said Aggie. "As scummy as she's been, she doesn't deserve that. As your friend, Penny, I'm asking you to look deep down within your heart and try to find--"

"Lose the attitude, Ag. Yes, we're buddies and all, but sometimes you can be such a sanctimonious pinchmiss."

"Pinchwha? I'm gonna look that up when I get home," said Aggie, fists clenched, "because that doesn't sound like any word I've ever heard of."

"So? Are we playing Scrabble or something?"

Thunderbolt Trickster imitated a coach's whistle. "Guys! This isn't all about you. It's all about me. I mean the case. Solving the case."

"Sorry, Lisa," said her friends in unison.

"Shh! Don't give away my secret identity."

"What secret identity?" said Penny. "You're not wearing a mask or cowl or anything. Everyone knows who you are."

"Oh yeah." Lisa shuffled her feet. "I knew that. Anyway, we're not gonna get far if we don't get some leads."

At that moment, the sound of coughing emanated from Cyndi's room.

"Aha!" said Lisa. "All right, I'm goin' in. If any nurses come by wanting to stick thermometers up her butt or something, stall them."

Cyndi Kristoffer, surrounded by IV poles and vital sign monitors, coughed and twitched her fingers. She didn't look much like the brunette bombshell who once held Belleville High in her hand with her amoral, manipulative ways. The crown of her head was bandaged after emergency neurosurgery; both her eyes were black and swollen, and she was missing two front teeth.

"Cyndi?" said Lisa, bending close to her face. "Cyndi, can you hear me?"

With a supreme effort, Cyndi nodded her head. Her eyes remained closed.

"Who did this to you?"

Cyndi's lips parted slowly. Her voice was faint and guttural. "Braaaa..."

"Mm-hm. Go on. Bra--?"

"Braaaa..." She fell silent.

"Damn," said Lisa. "Maybe later she'll come to agai--"

A stern-looking nurse burst into the room. "Hey you! Cosplay girl! There was this supersonic blast a few minutes ago, sounded like a coach's whistle, messing with the patients' life support systems. You know anything about it--hey, where'd she go? And what's that window doing open?"

A red-headed blur streaked through the sky, away from the hospital. "That was a close one. Better be sure to use my powers more carefully, or my career'll be deader than Lindsay Lohan's. And with almost as big a criminal record."

--To be continued--
Last edited by Alice Macher on Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Valerie » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:28 pm

I love you. So much.
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Postby Alice Macher » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:55 pm

That evening, Lisa and her trusty sidekicks gathered in the woods to drink spoiled beer--er, that is, to discuss possible suspects.

"And that's all she was able to get out?" said Aggie.

"Yup," said Lisa. "Just 'Braaaa.' So, starting with the probability it was someone Cyndi knows and vice versa--thus leaving out Brad Pitt--and using my amazing powers of deduction, I think we can narrow it down to either Brandi or Braz."

"Well," said Penny quickly, "we all know it's not Brandi, so on to Braz."

"Whoa there," said Lisa, "we can't rule anything out. My source in the B.P.D.'s forensics department (thanks, Aunt Sophie!) tells me fibers from the net of a lacrosse stick were found in Cyndi's hair and on the grass beside her. So it's gotta be a 'Braaa' who plays lax. So Brandi would have the weapon, the know-how, and also the motive, considering how Cyndi *#@$ed over her and Stan."

"If you think I'm gonna stand by and let you perp-sweat one of my best friends--"

"Hold on, Pen," said Aggie. "Brandi's my friend too, and Lis's, but we can't let that stop us from the pursuit of justice, no matter--"

"Heeere we go," said Penny.

Aggie half-smiled. "Okay, fine, I'll stop being a pinchwhatever. Look, Penny, it's not such a stretch that Brandi could've done it. You were there when she knocked Xena out from behind. I know, I know, 'hella aggro' and all that, but we were all under aggro that day: you and Michelle ticked off at Stan, me ticked off over getting a homophobic racist for my first date with a--eheheh, for someone I thought could be a new friend, heh. And yet we didn't get violent."

"Okay, okay," said Penny. "You have a point. Go talk to Brandi, Lisa, if you must."

"I figured, as soon as I heard about Cyndi gettin' whacked, someone'd come calling on me." Brandi crossed her legs on her living room sofa and looked directly at Lisa. "Glad it's you, at least, instead of the cops. But what's up with interviewin' me in the dark with a flashlight in my face? And did you have to wear that S-Stan outfit?"

"Oops. Even though it's my uniform when I'm on duty--and I did at least take the hair off the cap--I guess that wasn't very sensitive of me." She looked wistfully into the distance. "It's a hard, isolating life, sometimes, being a super-powered individual. Sometimes, working 'for great justice' like the Engrish version of that video game puts it, it's easy to lose sight of the small courtesies that--"

"Yeah yeah. I read Batman too, hon. Anyway, I got proof it wasn't me. After talkin' to Stan that day when the debate let out, I ran to my locker, got my books, and then ran straight home. Changed my shirt and played b-ball with my brother Carlos and his friends for two hours straight. Y'know, to get my mind off it and keep myself from doin' anything drastic. They'll vouch for me. Also, I didn't have lacrosse practice that day so my stick was at home."

Lisa furrowed her eyebrows and nodded. "Got it. Thanks, Brandi. You can go now."

"Uh, Lis? This is my house here. --Hey, where'd she go? And why's that window open?"

"I got nothin' to say to you, you tarantula-haired freak," said Braz the next day, bouncing a handball off the side of an abandoned office building on Main Street and somehow managing to hit himself in the head repeatedly. "'Specially not--ow--without a lawyer."

"I'm not the police," said Lisa, mentally giving him credit for the creative insult if nothing else. "Miranda rights don't apply here. Just answer the question: where were you last week, day of the election debate, between 3:00 and 5:00 P.M.?"

"@#*% off and leave me alone."

"Wrong answer." Lisa took him firmly by the arm. "C'mon, maybe a change of venue'll loosen you up."

"Now, let's try this again. Where were you during that time?" said Lisa.

"All right, all right, I'll talk," said Braz, blood rushing to his head, as tends to happen when one is hanging upside down by one's toes outside a thirtieth-floor window while sobbing convulsively and wetting one's pants. "I left school right off and headed straight for the library to work on my history paper. Can--can I go now? Please, miss?"

"Don't call me 'miss.' And nah, not just yet. You play lacrosse, right? Did you have your stick with you at school that day? Were you carrying it with you when you left?"

"No, and no. I didn't have practice that day. A-ask Omar. He's on the boys' team too. And he was one table down from me at the library, puttin' the moves on M-Meg. He'll tell you. Well, maybe not about the Meg bit; 'less he feels like frontin'. Anyway, will you let me go now? Please?"

"Fine." She pulled him back inside the abandoned building. "Thanks for cooperating, eventually. Anything else you'd like to say?"

"Just, maybe...Can I please have some clean, dry underwear?"

"What am I, Wal-Mart?"

"Hey," came a slack-jawed voice from across the hall. "Kin you young 'uns keep it down? I'se tryin' t' sleep here."

"What the--?" said Lisa. She waved Braz away and mouthed "Go home." Braz did so, running down thirty flights in what had to be record time. Lisa proceeded cautiously from room to room and found a buck-toothed hilbilly man whittling while propped up against a rucksack. "Uh...hi," said Lisa. "You squatting here or something?"

"Yeah, y' could say that. Name's Cletus Spuckler. Pleased t' meet ya. I'm from Springfield...I forgit what state we's from. Anyways, th' wife an' I been up here since fall, after a certain unfort'nate encounter with one o' them nosy social workers. So we left the young 'uns, all 'leventeen o' them, with their Uncle Jeb what just got out o' prison, an' came up here to lie low a spell." He held up a jug. "Moonshine?"

" thank you. Nice to meet you, Mr. Spuckler. I'd better be--"

"Yup, yup yup yup. This is th' life, squattin' in this here luxury hoh-tell, while Brandine goes scavengin' behind the Dominoes fer empty pizza boxes with cheese in. Real sweet girl, Brandine, forgivin' me for gettin' involved with a dark-haired piece o' jailbait our first week here in Belleville."

"Dark-haired piece of--?"

"Huh, yeah. Pretty li'l filly she was. Named like th' girl in that fairy tale. Rapunzel, wuzzit? Naw. Puss in Boots? Nope. Not that kinda puss, anyhow. Wait, I got it. Cindy-rella. Mebbe without the 'rella.'"

Lisa went a bit slack-jawed herself.

--To be concluded--
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Postby Dominic » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:10 pm

First thought here: OH GOD BRANDI NO WHYoh wait, 'Brandine.' Gotcha. :lol:

You? Are amazing.
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Postby Alice Macher » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:11 pm

Issue #3

Lisa Winkelemeyer, gifted with the proportional strength of lightning and the proportional trickiness of the coyote, dedicates her life to fighting crime as the Thunderbolt Trickster. And now, hot on the trail of Cyndi's mysterious assailant, and having eliminated the two most obvious suspects (no, not eliminated like that), she may be closer than ever to the true culprit in...


Conclusion: Death Plays a Banjo

At sunset, Lisa flew back to the abandoned thirty-story South Central Belleville building where, the previous day, she'd managed, by sheer determination but mostly by dumb luck, a breakthrough in the Kristoffer case. As the old detective-story cliché goes, she thought, it's always the one you least suspect. Which is particularly true when you didn't know that one even existed.

Brandine Spuckler. Hillbilly. Squatter. Victim of her husband Cletus's infidelity with Cyndi. It all fit. Except that Lisa had met Cletus the previous day. And she couldn't figure out why Cyndi, who could've had nearly any guy, and many a girl, she wanted--provided they hadn't gotten to know her first--would give it up for a slack-jawed yokel like him. Unless, that is, he had something she needed.

Lisa touched down in front of the Main Street building, entered, and flew up the thirty flights of stairs, knocking against the wall a few times, twice with her head. Apparently my powers don't include night-vision, she thought. Then, reflecting on the "Thunderbolt" part of her title, she had the idea to brush her hands rapidly together a few times, and hey presto! Miniature ball lightning. Carefully enclosing it in a small jar from her utility belt, she proceeded to walk slowly down the hall of the top floor, peering into each room.

"Kin I help you?" said a twangy voice behind her.

Lisa turned. There at the end of the hall stood a buck-toothed woman with red hair tied in a single pigtail above her head, wearing jeans and a green collared shirt tied unsexily just beneath her chest. Her hands were behind her back.

"Brandine Spuckler, I presume?" said Lisa.

"Who wants to know? You with Springfield Child Services or summat?"

"No. I'm the Thunderbolt Trickster."

The woman scratched her head, then turned her head and yelled behind her. "Cletus? Is tonight Hallywe'en?"

"No, Brandine," came a voice in response. "T'aint. That's the first day o' Christmas, don'tcha know."

"I thought so," said Brandine, turning back to her unwanted visitor. "We don't got no candy fer you tonight, missy. Now git. This here's private property. Not our'n, technic'lly, but still. Gwan, beat it."

"Hold up, hold up," said Lisa. "I just need to ask you: do you know anything about a certain Cyndi Kristoffer?"

Brandine's face darkened. "You jus' said the wrong thing, kid. You mus' be that soupy-hero I done heard tell 'bout, goin' around askin' too many questions. Well, here's yer answer." She whipped out a lacrosse stick.

Lisa smiled. "So it was you who assaulted her."

"Thass right, Sherlock Maclaine. That teenage skank done boinked my husband. Or common-law partner, or whatever he is; I forgit. An' alla time, it was just t' git his moonshine."

"What would she want with that?"

"My guess'd be 'cause it's so strong, just a shot of it'll knock ya straight inta La-La Land for a spell or three. Could be useful for druggin' someone."

"Hey now, I resent that," said Cletus from down the hall. "Thass only the finest spirit in th' whole tri-county--"

"You stay out o' this."

"Yes'm," said Cletus, downing another shot of moonshine and heading straight to La-La Land for the rest of the issue.

Lisa recalled Stan telling her about the time he found himself in Penny's bedroom, in a fog, the morning after her party. He suspected Cyndi, or someone working on her behalf. And then there was the time he caught her and Samantha red-handed trying to drug his soda, at school no less. Just like the time Lisa served as Britney Spears's wig after she shaved... What?! She shook her head. Jeez, I gotta stop watching Family Guy.

Turning her attention back to Brandine, she said, "Be that as it may, you've just confessed to a felonious assault, so I'm bringing you in. Come along."

"I don't rightly think so, missy. Or have you forgotten about my web-stick here what I stoled from yer schoolhouse?"

Lisa chuckled. "Oh, please. Not only do I have super-powers; I'm on the girl's lacrosse team (and I don't play "ironically," whatever that means, Tharqa). I think I know a little something about blocking and dodging sticks."

"Yeah? Well, it just so happens I done souped this up summat since then. Block an' dodge this." She flipped a switch on the back of the stick, causing three curved metal blades to shoot up and spin around rapidly, tearing the net to shreds.

"Whoa, that is so not NCAA regulation," said Lisa, jumping back. "Listen, Brandine, I really don't wanna resort to violence if I can help it. Can't we just--"

"Shut up an' die!" said Brandine through a ghoulish grin. She took a swing upside Lisa's head. Lisa jumped back again and felt her scalp. No blood. She sighed with relief and lowered her hand, which now contained one of her pigtails.

Lisa looked up slowly. Her eyes narrowed, glowing red. "Big mistake, bitch. Now it's personal."

She spun in the air like a drill and aimed herself at Brandine, flattening her against the wall. Though winded, Brandine held on to the stick, boosted herself up with it, turned it on again, and made ready to slash Lisa's throat...only to see the wood crumble to splinters in her hand. Lisa grinned at her opponent's gaping expression. Technically, what I just did there constitutes tampering with evidence. But then, she tampered with it first by motorizing--oh $#!%!

Just in time, she caught the triple blade which Brandine had thrown at her as if it were a shuriken. Summoning her immense strength, she blunted it and tossed it aside. "Not so hot without your lax attack, huh?"

"Aaaarrr," said Brandine, rushing toward Lisa, who punched her in the jaw.

"What the hell," said Lisa. "You're already slack-jawed, right? Can't hurt--ow!" Brandine hit her in the stomach.

"You're lucky I ate a light dinner," said Lisa, landing one punch after another as they headed toward a picture window. Brandi countered by biting her on the shoulder. "Ow! No fair biting," said Lisa, kicking Brandine in the cleavage and sending her staggering backward and out the window.

"No!" cried Lisa. "Not like this."

Brandine was oddly stoic as she plummeted past the fifteenth floor. "This ain't too bad so far," she said.

"Euch, last time I heard that line, we were still on the eighth Doctor," said Lisa, swooping down beside her and scooping her up.

"Cletus an' I cain't afford no doctors," said Brandine, "so we just go see the vet every two years." She grinned sheepishly. "Oh, an' thanks."

"You're welcome. Still going to jail, though." She headed straight for the nearest police station.

At Saint Sinai Hospital three days later, Lisa, Penny and Aggie checked in on a certain patient, now fully conscious. "Lisa, I suppose I should thank you for catching that Spuckler woman," said Cyndi.

"All in a day's work," said Lisa, her hair tied in two braided pigtails, for now. "Just do me a favour and don't crush on me. Please."

"So, Cyndi," said Aggie, arms crossed. "Have you learned something from all this?"

"Ag, for the love of God," said Penny, rolling her eyes.

"No, no, it's all right," said Cyndi. "I have learned something. Something that will change my life and affect how I treat others."

"Really?" said Lisa.

"Yup. I've learned that there's someone in town who's selflessly devoted to avenging wrongs committed against anyone, no matter how much of a nasty, scheming bitch that 'anyone' is."

"And?" said the others.

Cyndi just smiled.

"Life doesn't wait forever." --Lisa Winklemeyer
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Postby Shadrach » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:57 am

Brilliant. Just brilliant.
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Postby Valerie » Fri Jul 16, 2010 4:20 pm

*standing ovation*
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Postby MudFlap33 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:58 pm

Valerie wrote:*standing ovation*

Ditto this!
adamiani wrote:Hormones are the real unsung heroes of this series!
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Postby Alice Macher » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:22 pm

Hee. Thanks, everyone. Glad you enjoyed it.

There will be more. Oh yes, my childer. There will be more. :twisted:
"Life doesn't wait forever." --Lisa Winklemeyer
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Postby Damocles » Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:29 pm

Lovin' it.
I'm now convinced that if you play Pat Benatar's "Crimes of Passion" over Penny and Aggie it'll totally synch up.
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Postby Alice Macher » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:06 pm

Issue #4

Ah, the teenage years. A time when nearly everyone wonders at some point whether they fit in, be it with the "jocks and cheerleaders" clique, the "SF/fantasy/RPG geek" horde, the "bohemian artist" klatch, the "stoner" forget, or some combination thereof. A few unfortunate souls never quite fit in anywhere. And then, at Belleville High, there's a certain teen who blends in rather too well with others' expectations, as we shall see in the next Thunderbolt Trickster tale...


"Sorry, Darren," said Bethani (spelled with a heart dotting the "i") in front of her locker between third and fourth period. "You're just not the hunky jock I imagined you to be when we started dating the other week. I think we should--"

"I know, I know. We should just be friends," said Darren, sprawled prone on the floor after having tripped on her heels from walking too close to her. Again.

"Actually, I was gonna say we should stay as far away from each other as possible. Thanks for buying me lunch and stuff, though. Bye, hon, love ya. Hey Omar, wait up."

Darren got up and brushed himself off, jabbing himself painfully in the nipple in the process, when Needleneck came by. "Another one bites the dust, huh, Darren? I keep telling you, dating's not worth it. Stick to food. A tray or two of Dad's Vanilla Shoppe burgers is the cure for what ails you."

"And I keep telling you I don't have your metabolism." He sighed. "Why does this always happen to me, Needleneck? I didn't ask to be seen only the way others want to see me." In his mind's eye, he could see a succession of dating disillusionments.

"Sorry, Darren," said Krystal. "You're just not the 'goth-lite who hangs with the Libby' type I imagined you to be."

"Sorry, Darren," said Kimiko. "You're just not the cyborg-in-training type I imagined you to be."

"Sorry, Darren," said Aggie. "You're just not the clone of my bishonen ex-crush I imagined you to be."

"Sorry, Darren," said Fred. "You're just not the coy gay guy I imagined you to be."
(Actually, Fred said this when they were working on a geography presentation. That's right, Darren got this line even when he wasn't looking to date.)

"Sorry, Darren," said Betty. "You're close, very close, but not quite who I imagined you to be."

Sorry, Darren... Sorry, Darren... Sorry, Darren...

"Darren? You in there, man?" said Needleneck.

"Huh? Yeah. Anyway, I've had enough. Maybe I can change the way others see me...with science! I'm booking the lab after school for some experiments with body chemistry. And you're gonna help me, Needleneck."

"Whoa. Are you actually making a decision on your own? I got a bad feeling about this."

"So," said Aggie, doing jumping jacks next to Lisa in gym class that afternoon. "Tell me more about this island you're going to for the summer."

"It's a private community of super-powered individuals," said Lisa, concentrating on not denting the floor with her electro-genetic strength. "Just off the coast of Greece. Girls and women only, by a three thousand-year-old tradition."

Aggie's eyes got big. "What's it called?"

"Thamazoncira. I figured my super skills could use some refinin', so I'm goin' there for an intensive six-week boot camp regimen: Amazonian martial arts, strength training, binding games--"

"Buh-binding games?"

"Yeah. Where we take turns lying face down on the ground and getting tied up so we can--"

Aggie somehow fell over backwards in mid-jump.

"Ag? You okay?" said Lisa.

"I'm fine. So, um...this allowed to bring a guest?"

The next day, after school, Darren and Needleneck, wearing lab coats, gloves and goggles, toiled in the science lab. "Hand me the vial of my pheromones," said Darren. Needleneck did so and watched with growing apprehension as his friend poured it into a beaker heated over a bunsen burner. "There. I've added it to the B-Z reaction solution, which is oscillating nicely. Now to attach the electrodes."

Needleneck gulped and handed him a length of wire. Darren carefully inserted one end into the membrane forming in the beaker, and attached the other end to his scalp. "And now," he said, sweat running down his forehead, "to catalyze the neuro-pheromonal reaction, pass me--the radium."

"Not--the radium?!" said Needleneck.

"Good God, man, just do as I say! --Sorry, old bean. Under pressure, you know. They laughed at old Blank Slate Darren, didn't they all. Well, they won't be laughing when they see the new, improved, consistent-personality Darr--will you hand me the damn radium already?"

"Okay, okay," said Needleneck, passing the element over with tongs. "How did a high school chem lab ever get this stuff, anyway?"

"Beats me. The important thing is that it's the final piece in the neurotransformative formula I painstakingly worked out. And now I add it to the solution. --Ahhh, I can feel the current rising, rising, ris--"

There was a lab-shattering kaboom.

"Oh, man," said a soot-blackened Needleneck. "Giuliani's gonna have our hides for this. Guess we'd better go back to formula, huh, Darren? Wha--put me down!"


Needleneck, hanging by a fist, stared into the face of his lab partner, or tried to. "My God. Darren--you don't have a face anymore. Nor any hair."

"Darren? Darren's dead, my friend. You can call me: the Emulator. And as you can see, I'm a lot...handier."

He put his free hand on top of Needleneck's head and squeezed...

--To be continued--
"Life doesn't wait forever." --Lisa Winklemeyer
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Alice Macher
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Postby Alice Macher » Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:36 pm

"So then what happened?" asked Lisa, on duty and therefore in costume, as the boy seated across from her tucked into a tray of Dad's Deep-Fried Double Bacon Cheeseburgers.

"He suddenly turned away and just ran off. I have no idea how he saw where he was going without eyes, but there you have it. Come to think of it, even before the accident he'd run as if he had no clue where he was going." He finished his third burger and started into the fourth, fifth and sixth. "I'm worried, Lisa. It's been two days now and he's nowhere to be seen or heard. best... fuh-fuh-fuh friend..." He burst into tears, though continuing to munch away in between sobs.

"Hey, Needleneck," said "Dad" Pate, the Vanilla Shoppe's proprietor. "When are you gonna pay up your tab already?"

"Aw, go easy on him, 'Dad,'" said Aggie, patting her acquaintance on the shoulder. "His best friend just lost his face and his mind, and is wandering around God knows where. He's probably lost and disoriented, and possibly gotten injured even more."

"What Aggie says," said Penny. "Besides, wasn't it Needleneck who stopped Mr. Lodge's--I mean Mr. Kristoffer's--company from foreclosing on your mortgage and saved the Shoppe? Like, six times?"

"True, true," said Pate, "and I'll always be grateful for that. But maybe you three can pick up his cheque for today, at least?"

"Sure, no big," said Lisa. "Right, Pen? Ag?" The two girls nodded, and "Dad" went back behind the counter.

Lisa noticed the tray of burgers was empty. "Hey listen, Needleneck, thanks for helpin' us out at what I know's a hard time for you. Can we get you another round?"

"N-no thanks." He belched loudly. "'Scuse me. Back in a few moments. Nature's calling." He headed for the men's room.

The ever-attentive Pate handed the girls the cheque. As they reached for their pocketbooks, Aggie said, "So, Lis. What d'you make of this? And please, don't do the Airplane joke about making stuff out of paper; that's gotten old."

Lisa thought for a moment. "Well, this sounds like it might be a case for the Thunderbolt Trickster--"

"And don't talk about yourself in the third person," said Penny.

"Sor-ree. Geez. I was sayin', it might be a case for me, what with the standard-issue Freak Lab Accident (thank you, TV Tropes), the sudden insanity, and Darren still being able to talk and see after his face went bye-bye. Oh-Tee-Oh-Aitch, he hasn't actually done anything we know of, apart from accidentally blowing up the lab, squeezing N.N.'s head for a few secs, and then taking off. So I dunno. May just be a matter for Missing Persons, the cops, and the shrinks."

Aggie laid down her share of the cheque and shed a tear. "Poor Darren. He may've been a 'big ol' sack of eh,' as Lis puts it, and yeah, I admit I was only fooling myself when I thought he was The One. But he was a sweet guy, really, who never meant anyone any harm. I--I hope he's safe. I hope he hasn't hurt himself. More than...usual..." She blew her nose.

Penny smiled. "See, this is what I like about you, Ag. Sure, your politics are so 1960s, and yeah, you can be holier-than-thee --thou? thou, at times. But underneath it all, you have the biggest heart of anyone I've ever known." She rested her hand on Aggie's.

Aggie sniffled and smiled back, gently squeezing Penny's hand. "Thanks, Pen. Not as big as your heart, though. 'S why I like hanging with you."

The two of them sat lost in each other's eyes for a few moments. Then their heads, as if through their own momentum, began to incline towards each other ever so slightly, drawing closer, closer...

"Hey guys," said Lisa in what had to be the s***tiest example of timing since the Bay of Pigs Invasion, "we better get going. That trig homework ain't gonna do itself, and I may need the help of our resident math nerd here."

Penny and Aggie snapped to attention as if waking from a dream, nodded, and headed toward the front door. "Thanks again, Needleneck," yelled Lisa.

"No, thank you," he said in return, having emerged from the washroom a couple of minutes ago, after throwing up all six burgers, and having then observed the Penny and Aggie soap from a distance. He grinned a dark grin. Ye-e-es, he thought. I can use this. Use it...indeed. Thank you, Needleneck old chum, for the 'loan' of your face and bodily shape, if not your constitution for that vile offal you call food. But soon, very soon, the Emulator must needs put on a new face for his naughty little games. And then another, and another. "MWA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!", he laughed aloud, causing "Dad" Pate to look up from the grill with a puzzled expression.

"Er...sorry, just remembered something funny I saw on Hot Lights. Later, 'Dad,'" said the Emulator in Needleneck's voice. He made a hasty exit.

--To be continued--
"Life doesn't wait forever." --Lisa Winklemeyer
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Alice Macher
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