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Rocket Man 5

Rocket Man 5 - Chapter 7: Crossing Jordan / Family Ties

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Chapter 7: Crossing Jordan / Family Ties

Anne Catherine Jordan was born in Hampton, Virginia in 1959. There was nothing special or unusual about her the first eight years of her life. She had two loving parents, a little brother named Jeff and a scruffy dog named Scratch. The biggest mystery she had ever pondered was what breed of dog Scratch might be. In her daily life young Annie never felt much fear or insecurity about anything. That all changed the day Mr. Heckburg moved in next door.

Dale Heckburg never spoke to any adults in the neighborhood. When he did encounter any person past adolescence he made sure they knew he had elsewhere to be and soon. When younger children were about he would watch them from hidden corners, behind trees or bushes. His gaze was unsettling as he seldom looked aside or even blinked. For several months no child on the block had the courage to cross his yard, at least until Annie chased Scratch into the hedge bordered back yard and nearly ran directly into the man whose very name elicited chills from kids for blocks around.

Annie had been aware of her heart pounding in her chest as she looked into the unsmiling face of what must have been the nearest living relative of the boogeyman himself. She had no idea if the lack of a smile on this man's face was a good sign or a very bad one. The first time in her life she needed, desperately wanted to break the governing laws of the universe she, like many others who were able, did. The strongest desire she had ever felt in her life so far was to know the thought of this man. No sooner had she thought this than she heard the internal voice of the man next door and his vile intentions. With equal desperation she lashed out to wipe these thoughts from the filthy mind that held them, and to be as far from him as she could be. Annie forgot her dog, running straight for the hedges and bursting, painfully through them to the perceived safety of her own yard. She didn't look behind, afraid that she needed every instant to flee. Upon entering her house she went straight to her room and hid in her closet, unaware that Dale Heckburg would never trouble little girls ever again. Later the same day Heckburg would be found, having been pushed nearly through the back wall of his house by an unknown force.

Annie continued to hear the thoughts of those around her. For many days she was unable to sleep while the thoughts of those who were near were still awake. After sleep finally did come for the inhabitants of the houses closest by, she could find rest only to be awakened occasionally by their more vivid dreams. Many of the things she heard in the minds of her neighbors, teachers and friends caused her great confusion. She understood that her parents made an effort to keep certain aspects of life from her, as they believed her to be too young for such things, but she could hear these thoughts anyway. The first decision she made based on her new secret skill was to keep it as much of a secret as possible. Naturally it was incredibly easy to avoid suspicion, when she could look for signs of it before those clues would be apparent to the subjects themselves.

Upon graduation from high school Anne had honed her skill. She had a much deeper understanding of human behavior than her classmates, teachers, or even the school psychiatrist. She decided to finally reveal her hidden talent to her parents. In order to move to Chicago, and enroll in the Young Champions program she would need her parents to know the truth. Over the years she had gained a good deal of proficiency in mind reading, she could see the images that accompanied the thoughts people had. She had also learned to control her mind blast power. In anger she could directly assault the minds of others. Few people had much defense against this. The ability she had been most careful to hide was her telekinesis. With the power of her mind alone she could lift cars, trucks, even once she lifted a box car from it's railroad track. Unfortunately she did not have the precision at that time to put such a heavy thing back on its rails, so with some degree of personal guilt she had to leave the derailed car sit next to the track. News programs all over the Tidewater area led with the story of mysterious vandalism.

In the spring of 1978 Anne joined the Young Champions program. Having a desire to remain close to home she hoped to be accepted as the third member of Star Force, the newly formed team in New York City. The two founding members had chosen matching names; Mr. E and Mysteria. Mr E's name was to represent the capital "E" the scientific shorthand for energy. His power other than incredible intelligence was to convert one form of energy to another, such as thermal or heat energy to electromagnetism and so forth. Mysteria could enhance the powers of others as well as the strange ability to walk on air as if it were solid. As a bid to fit in to the new team she chose the name "Mystic." Not that she had magical powers per se, but the so called mind readers of the Victorian era had used the word mystic to describe themselves. While a member of the YC she was tested to her limits to see if there were better, more creative uses of her powers. This was one of the main purposes of the group. It was then that it was suggested to her that she use her telekinesis to lift herself. This was a novel and very exciting idea to her, although she had never tried to lift anything living, or more correctly anything that had lived afterward. After developing the needed finesse to lift fragile human bodies she discovered the extreme joy of flying. Other than the expected thrill of soaring above the city and the grand vista of the Earth below, she discovered the silence of being far enough from the thoughts of the muddled masses that came with it. She had long since learned to tune out or ignore the sights and sounds of the many minds around her, but it still was better to have silence than good earplugs.

On completion of the two year training she was warmly welcomed to be the third member of Star Force. The ability to tune out the thoughts of those nearby was a useful one indeed when spending so much time with the newlywed couple. Emotions were another matter. Strong, primal desires were much harder to ignore. Mystic often felt like the third wheel of Star Force rather than the third member. Her teammates did not intend this to be the case, but they were only a few years her senior and not as emotionally developed as she was. As her real life identity she attended college full time and eventually earned a PhD in Psychology. She even started a career offering her services pro bono to the community while not engaged in crime fighting.

Mystic had a strong suspicion that the deepest desires of meta active people would eventually manifest themselves as super abilities. Her own experience confirmed that precisely the power she wished for had materialized when needed. The meta gene had appeared suddenly in the 1920's with no rational explanation. Little was known or understood about the cause or effect of the strange DNA sequence that was possessed by many more creatures than those which showed any discernible effect. The super sequence was present in lifeforms as diverse as the scorpions of the western deserts to human beings. When activated in animals the effect was usually tied to a survival issue. The result usually being an animal with greatly enhanced ability to protect its territory. Human beings were obviously already much more dangerous when protecting what they perceived to be their own. This was why Julie's strong emotional attraction to Terry troubled Mystic deeply.

Baby Helga J. Von Werner arrived in this world on the Seventeenth of May 1978. The overwhelming love for her held by the entire Champions Club complex was like a beacon in the darkness to Mystic. From across the plaza at almost any time of the day or night Mystic could stretch out her finger and point directly at the tiny wriggling infant. By the time she was two little Helga was speaking in full sentences and as mentally advanced as a normal child of seven. Adorably however she still had the motor skills of a two year old and was often nonplussed at her own inability to maintain control of a sippy cup.

Julie had been from birth, surrounded by people who adored her. Their esteem for her had been returned fully. Julie simply did not have a regular association with anyone she did not love. Her strong compulsion toward Terry was beyond these feelings by far. Simple emotional attraction was not, in Mystic's opinion a serious enough problem to warrant her attention. The soap opera of any workplace was a reality endured by almost any organization comprised of humans. What worried Mystic was the strange ability of meta active people to make dramatic transformations when greatly distressed. This alone explained why more people became super villains than heroes. The mind of Julie Von Werner was so far beyond her comprehension that she could not even make an estimate of how powerful it was. Even as a girl of nine years old Julie's mind was a brick wall to Mystic. She simply did not have the power to overcome her mental defense or the courage to try. She knew without guessing that a battle of wills with the ultra-genius would be like arm wrestling with Brawny Bill. The protective instinct of one such as Julie could be a fearsome force if not guided delicately. Julie showed no outward sign of awareness of her own feelings in this regard. She had to be actively suppressing her desires in self protection. Mystic was still without a solid plan of how to proceed but she knew she was out of time, as Julie had been slipping in her emotional detachment with increasing frequency. Soon time would take matters firmly out of her ability to make any significant difference.

Deep under the bedrock of the Champions Club complex, in a place Terry's excellent direction sense told him was under the lake, there were the time stasis cells used by the CC to hold their super enemies until a better plan could be found. Not all battles ended up having survivors to go in the cells, so overcrowding was not an issue. Not only was he granted admittance to this facility before he was accepted by the Young Champions program, he had not yet even applied. The interior of the CCHQ was like being in a huge bank vault. The walls were made of a dull metal a couple feet thick. Even the tremendous weight of the lake above his head was in no danger of rupturing these walls.

Looking into the Stasis cell Terry was filled with doubts that so infamous an enemy as Dr. Doomsday could be contained indefinitely by mere machinery. Thats not to say the mechanical wonders around here were not impressive. Quite to the contrary, the gadgetry of the entire complex was nothing short of mind boggling. This had to be the safest spot on earth. The mega-smarties next door have had nearly three quarters of a century to identify every conceivable weakness in their own defenses and devise a way to secure them. The very armor he now wore was testament to the long experience of dedicated inventors finding brilliant solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. Every eventuality had been addressed over the years from his need to breathe to his waste disposal issues. In every case a solution or a very good compromise had been reached. Not but a short few moments ago he had been attacked flat footed by a man with the strength to knock over banks, not in the old fashioned sense, but literally. Dr. Doomsday's chain had been wrapped around his body and he lived to tell the tale, not only lived but delivered a serious beating to the stony giant in short order. Last summer Brawny Bill had been laid low by that very chain. (Not that Bill was the greatest tactician, or even a good one. What Bilanthuslik of Dimension Q lacked in smarts he made up for quintuple in face punching and small bridge lifting.) The new gravity drive controlled his inertia at all times. The power plant he currently wore on his back ensured that any kinetic energy applied to him was met with equal and opposite force. Vast ludicrous force. The two small cylinders on his back supplied more energy than the twin F414's in the Navy's F/A-18E Super Hornet he had left in a smoking hole in North Carolina. Terry didn't know for sure if the last carrier on which he had been deployed had two such power plants(!) Chances were the Doctor was on ice for the foreseeable future, but in the comics the best bad guys always came back.

The apartment set aside for Rocket Man was large and comfortable, if a little dated. It seemed to evoke a certain bachelor-pad vibe reminiscent of the Rat Pack. The walls were covered by the same display panels the rooms downstairs in the control center were. They currently showed the view from the outside of the building as if they were windows in the thick fortress exterior of the building. Terry had never had this much space to live in in his life. He was looking around the room deciding on how best to display his many collectibles, comics, posters and toys. In one corner was a writing desk he had placed his military memorabilia on or around. The display was a tradition usually referred to as the "I love me wall." He had the striped cedar shelves and paneling of the office corner filled with his military awards, certificates, photos, and so on. He would need to import display cases of some kind for the rest of his collection. A knock came from the door that led to the stairway and the control center below.

Opening the door Terry was greeted by the pleasant, smiling face of Mystic. He had never seen her up close before and was first impressed with how young she still looked. She was actually old enough to be his mother. Assuming she was at least the minimum of eighteen when she was in the YC class of '78 she would be about forty-five or so.

"I'll be forty-six in July" Mystic said, turning her face and body from side to side as if to display herself to him.

Strange way to start a conversation. Terry thought as she continued to pivot, now looking at him over her shoulder. She was slightly arching her back with both arms above her shoulders running her hands through her long black hair. Terry wondered briefly why she was posing that way, when he suddenly realized she looked like she was admiring herself in a mirror. Not a mirror exactly but to a mind reader his eyes would serve just as well.

"Not really," Said mystic casually. "I look so much better in your eyes than I do in a mirror." She was now wearing a devilish grin. "Sooo much better..."

Terry felt his face heating like a teenager when it occurred to him what kind of thoughts Mystic would be able to see in his head. He speculated about whether she would be able to scan through his memories to find the most embarrassing ones about her from his early adolescent days. He certainly hoped not, as there were definitely some real whoppers back there where she in particular was concerned.

"Mystic and the Secret Space Fighter" she said in a voice that was triumphantly amused. "What's a BBS?"

"Oh God." Terry said. Not only could she scan his memories she seemed to go directly to the most embarrassing one. In his youth he had spent probably too much time at the computer in his parents basement. He remembered the black screen and the green ASCII text with the square blinking cursor. This was how he communicated with the other pathetic fanboys at the then blistering speed of 14.4 kbit/s. Using his parents dial up modem he could chat with others who shared his interests and even share fanfic written about their favorite heroes. Pimply, pubescent Terry had written just such a story about how a shadowy para-government organization had created a top secret spacecraft to defend the earth against an imminent alien threat. In order to invade the alien homeworld and discover their diabolical invasion plans, the talents of the worlds greatest mind reader would be needed. The one small hitch in this plan was that in order to reach the alien world many spaceships stood in the way. So the ship would require a pilot of great skill and courage to fight off the entire fleet of bug-eyed aliens. The ship being designed as a fighter had only room for a crew of one and the mission was too urgent to take the time to modify the fighter for more seats. She would simply have to sit in the lap of the pilot who had been chosen for his outstanding record and nerves of steel. Lt. Perry Griffin was that man. He was a two fisted rough and tumble action hero known far and wide in the pilot community as the "best of the best."

Mystic threw back her head and laughed loudly. She placed her hand over her mouth and attempted to control her mirth. When her eyes met Terry's she erupted into fresh chuckles. "I'm sorry, but..." she laughed some more. "it's a really cheesy set up to get me sitting in your lap for a long space journey."

Terry did not bother to try to explain himself to her, as he was now quite certain she did not need one. She was clearly just having a go at him and also demonstrating the extent of her power. He took his mocking like a Marine would from a more experienced peer. "Ok, now that introductions have been made." A subject change was past due but Terry could see this was far from the last he would hear about that story. "So other than abject humiliation, was there another purpose for your visit?" Terry wondered if she had concerns about his being a Nazi lab rat.

"I am much more confident in your suitability for this job than you are Terry." She was now looking at some of the older metal toys from the 1950's that he had already put on the few shelves he had assembled so far. "Not only did I get a good look at your thoughts at the meeting, I have also examined just about every other person to come through the organization for the last twenty-seven years. You are way ahead of most of the others who come here much younger and less experienced.

"So you came to look at my collection then?" He asked. "Maybe to autograph some of my old issues of Star Force Adventures?"

She merely gave a half smile and shook her head, but she did begin to browse the nearby longboxes. "Actually I wanted to talk to you about your boss.

"Buck? What about him, is everything ok with him?" Terry was very concerned, using the same method again calculating Buck's age to about seventy-one. Those had been hard years. Terry remembered being recently surprised to find out he was still alive.

"No, not Buck, I was referring to Miss Von Werner."

She was looking at his prized Star Force Adventures #26. one of the truly valuable ones he owned that was not a reprint. It featured the first appearance of Mystic as a member of the team, and she was featured prominently on the cover.

"That costume didn't have a zipper on the front, and if it did I would not have worn it open so far." Her half smile returned as she glanced up at Terry. Her eyes darted from Terry to the cover and back. "Really?" She said looking surprised.

Terry sighed rolling his eyes and wanted a change of subject, or back to the issue at hand...

Mystic actually snickered then. "Issue, hand, see what I did there, I definitely saw what you did. She waggled the index finger of her free hand at him as she carried the comic over to the desk in the corner. She held the vintage issue up by its corner and gripped it between two fingertips making a show of inspecting it for contamination.

"Doctor" Terry said.

"Hmm?" Mystic replied as she sat at the desk and rummaged through the assorted pens, pencils and markers in a coffee cup that bore the logo of the carrier on which Terry had been deployed.

"I believe it's Doctor Von Werner." Terry said hoping the subject would remain changed.

"Ah, yes, so it is. Seems so many people I work with in both professions are Doctors I forget sometimes." She selected a permanent marker from the cup.

"Both professions?' Terry asked, intrigued. He didn't know anything about her life outside Star Force. He reasoned that since she did not wear a mask it was unlikely that she had much opportunity to move around outside the SFHQ without being recognized.

They haven't showed you the face changer yet?" Mystic asked, not looking up for his reply. She opened the acid-free bag and carefully slipped the book out.

"Face changer?" Terry was dubious about the existence of such a thing. She might be having more fun with him, in the great military tradition of sending the new guy to get a left-handed monkey wrench or a can of jet wash.

"There really is such a thing Terry, you'll see it soon enough. Since you don't need a disguise there's no reason to have shown it to you yet. She was tapping the capped marker against her bottom lip thoughtfully.

Watching the thick perma-pen bounce off her lip had a hypnotic effect, as soon as he realized what he was doing he knew he was busted. Again.

Nothing moved except her eyes, locking with his. "You really need to get a hobby." she said in a sultry voice. After a short pause she added, "Apart from that one." She forestalled him asking again why she had chosen to visit with a raised finger. "My other profession is as a Clinical Psychologist."

Terry laughed, "You're a shrink, isn't that cheating?"

"Cheating? No, it is a way to use my abilities to help people who have grave problems. I work with the NYPD talking with victims and suspects, hopefully before they have an opportunity to become desperate enough to actually develop the traits that lead to metahuman criminal behavior."

"Desperation does lead to superpowers?" Terry asked, now sincerely interested. This woman would be a first-class expert on the nature of super humans that was not known by the public at large. There was the popular hypothesis called the Langston-Popov Theory, which postulated this very idea.

"Not desperation specifically, but many times a person develops exactly the power they need at the time of emergence." She wrote a couple of short lines on the cover of the comic book and then returned it to the clear plastic bag. "There is a theory about the meta gene being an example of superevolution. The conjecture is that the meta gene causes spontaneous, instant, personal evolution. The effect is often tailored to the situation with which the subject is confronted, being exactly what is needed to meet the challenge."

Terry pondered this not reaching an understanding of how it would be possible. Evolution was slow. It would not even be fair to say glacially slow as glaciers came and went in an eyeblink next to evolution. These effects were sudden, taking seconds or less to transpire. Before he could ask Mystic interrupted.

"Consider the concept of the evolution of evolution itself, what once took eons and random mutations now could be instant and at some level intentional." Her tone was now one of a philosophical bent, her earlier teasing gone, hopefully.

"But there is no fundamental force of evolution to evolve. Its more like a computer glitch or a rounding error in every few billion copies made. Sometimes the effect is useful, sometimes it results in a hideous deformity, and other times still, in no discernible effect at all." He had participated in many discussions on those bulletin board services, and later, web forums on the topic of what might be the cause of the spontaneous appearance of super powers in the 1920's. Many people believed that the changes were the result of the intervention of supernatural or extradimensional beings. Neptune, who resided in the building next door, claimed to be the actual Roman sea god, but there was no way to prove or disprove this. Terry was himself, undecided.
"Whatever the cause, is it's the effect that is why I came to see you." Mystic seemed to be hesitant for the first time since arriving.

"Oh, well you should know then that I'm not actually meta-positive then." Terry said seriously, "My sexiness is caused by genetic manipulation."

Mystic laughed again, warmly. "You have an instinct to lighten the mood for someone who looks like they are having difficulty. I like that about you." She went on, carefully. "How do you feel about Doctor Von Werner?"

Terry's first thought was that Julie had invested in him her every hope in the world, and had clearly done so before they had even met. There were no other candidates with a background similar to his. The only other aviator in the group left Terry with the impression his experience was in multi-engine aircraft, probably Air Force as his landings were always glassy smooth. Kong was clearly some sort of X-Games type with little in the way of a grasp of technical matters. No selectee had more than one of his qualifications as if the others had been selected as an afterthought. Julie had so much as said that she had stopped looking after she had found him. He remembered that she had looked at him with great hopefulness even the first time they had met. When the Von Werners came to his hospital room they seemed to be deeply concerned for him right off the bat. He remembered the look of desperation in the blue eyes behind the small black frames of her glasses. He remembered how much her face had changed when she smiled. She had looked serious and very formal before that. In the time since then he had seen her disheveled and tired, working long hours on the armor. She always made time to speak to him to answer his many questions. Even when there was a technical detail he did not quite understand she explained it to him patiently. At no time did he ever get the impression that she was frustrated by him, even when she should have been. The most important impression he had of her was his very first. That among the group gathered to meet him they all deferred to her. Even as she was at least ten years their junior they treasured her approval.

"I was born not far from there" Mystic's voice came as a surprise. "Just across the bay actually. In Hampton. I've even done some work with patients at Portsmouth."

"So What is it about her that has you concerned? Have you seen something troubling in that giant brain?" Terry wondered if Mystic would need a map to find her way around in there.

"A map, no. I can not read her at all. Not her thoughts anyway, but I can sense her emotions. Those are much more primal, harder to hide unless you practice. Some people, mostly actors and liars of other professions are good at feigning the actual feelings they mimic." She carried the re-bagged and boarded comic back to the box, flipped back a few books and placed the errant issue in the box.

"You can't read Julie? Are there others you can't read?" She could certainly read him with great ease, and even speed, as if she knew her way around his thoughts as well as he did.

"Your mind is as easy to read as Curious George, if not as child friendly." She was wearing the wry grin again. "It only has one track after all." She continued to look through the box of carefully preserved comics.

Not taking the bait Terry moved on. "Why can't you read Julie? Is she one of those awesome liars?" She would have to be a good one if so, as she didn't seem to be dishonest ... but then...

Mystic Interrupted, "The Idea of trying to read her mind is about as tempting as wrestling the Omega Beast - naked." She waited long enough to let Terry get the image.

Terry quit all attempts to keep his thoughts clean. If she was going to keep throwing red meat in front of him, he would not feel bad about being tempted. He deliberately took a lingering gaze that slowly moved down her body. Her hair fell to the middle of her back in gentle waves. She now regarded him with her dark blue eyes carefully as he took in the rest of her. She had a very good figure for a woman of any age much less one in her mid forties. She had been gifted by more good genes than the meta one.

"That, and about a million sit-ups." Mystic said.

Terry pondered why she alternated between the topics of his boss and his sex drive. Was she trying to establish a connection? To what purpose? To get him fired for sexual harassment?

"There it is!" Mystic said, the exasperation plain in her voice.

"Looking for a particular issue?" Terry asked.

"An issue, yes but not a comic. I was wondering why you haven't seemed to notice Julie's increasing interest in you.

"You came here to tell me that Julie likes me? Why not just pass me a note in math class or rub a dandelion on both of our noses?"

"That test only proves you like butter, if I meant to make a juvenile suggestion of the existence of a romantic relationship, I would have accused you and Julie of being seated in the limb of a deciduous hardwood plant osculating." Her eyes twinkled.

As Terry was preparing to ask again why the grade school shenanigans, Mystic continued.

"It is most definitely not immature Terry. I have spent the last twenty odd years in the company of a man considered by the public to be the most intelligent man on earth."

Terry settled himself long enough for her to explain further.

"When we come here, to the RMF building, his intellect is unremarkable. There are at least eight people downstairs in this very building who are more mentally adept than Mr. E by far."

She paused again to let that point hammer home. "To the eight of those people, Julie is a living wonder." She paused again as that point hammered hard enough to cause him to want to sit down. "Her thoughts are not mysterious or shrouded to me, but as unreachable as Dimension Q, wherever that is.

Terry replied numbly, his voice sounding automatic. " ... s'where Bill's from." Mr. E was who Terry had thought was the biggest Brain-a-tron in the world. In the comics he had regularly outsmarted Brain-a-tron who was the fictional source of the name given to intelligent people. If Julie was indeed as gifted as that, then her understanding of the very mechanics of the universe were beyond his ability to conceive. Meta active people could have more than one emergence, often heroes who had worked with their powers for years found new ways to use them. In some instances new powers entirely would evolve. If Julie had such an incident what could be the limit of such a power? Could she rewrite the laws of physics themselves?

Mystic pressed on. "I believe that, to Julie, the RMF represents family in the most personal possible way. When she set out to find the 'perfect man' to wear the armor she must have, whether deliberately or not, also chose the perfect man - to be the male with whom she would establish her family. Did you know she has not left the building except on business since the death of the last man to have your job? The only life that appeals to her is here inside these walls."

Terry thought the walls themselves might be a powerful metaphor, a symbol for Julie of the safety of the family group.

"Now you understand the nature of the problem, how shall we prevent the heartbreak of Miss ... Doctor Von Werner, and the resulting end of the fabric of reality itself?"

She was humorously overstating the issue, he hoped. He had the choice of making no attempt to involve himself with the cheerful, beautiful, dedicated woman who had fought for him from the moment she had read things written about him on paper, or ... he could be completely dedicated to her until the day of his preferably far off death. "But why the oh so harmless flirting?"

"I wanted to see how much self control you had." Mystic said innocently. She actually batted her eyes.

"You would think a mind reader would be a better liar." Terry folded his arms across his chest.

"Well, I did only develop that idea when you opened the door ... But it is a good one." She walked toward him saying in a husky voice, "You know we could stop the progress of her feelings in their tracks by having a very public, torrid, steamy, passionate affair..."

"You would be willing to do that to save the universe?" Terry asked the woman who was only inches in front of him.

"To save the universe? I would do - anything." She was leaning forward looking up at him demurely. "If you prefer, I happen to know Arcanegel found you quite interesting, if you like them younger than me. She's only twenty short years old." Her head was tilted to the side as she made puppy dog eyes at him. "Of course you know her background being from such a liberal family, I heard that the Headquarters of Unity is clothing optional. She's very open minded. She might, to save the universe, even - share."

Terry had the worst thought he could have had at the time. He thought that Mystic had been replaced by her fictional "Evil twin" (From SFA #83). The Doppelganger was like Mystic in every way except for her impossibly slinky black dress that no woman could actually wear even if she did have telekinesis.

"Oooh, Evil Mystic? I have seen a few copies of Star Force number eighty three, only the very bravest of fanboys has ever asked me to sign that one. I liked that dress so much I actually had one made, would you like me to wear it for you? You would be surprised at how useful TK is for keeping clothes on, or - taking them off."

It was then Terry realized he had been wearing a bathrobe this entire time, beneath which was only the uber-thin "sock" that he needed to wear under the armor suit. He felt something unseen very gently pulling at the knot tied in the front of the robe. He grabbed the slip-knotted belt before it came completely undone. If she leaned in any closer they would be touching. a quick glance down confirmed that the part of her that would make contact first was naturally the part that extended farthest forward. Terry cleared his throat. He could not find a reason why he was resisting her advance, was he unsure if she was sincere in her offer?

"Very sincere Terry, all you have to do, is accept." Her tone was as sultry as it was possible to be.

Here was a woman he had as his fantasy since he had fantasies, simpering for him. She had also offered to get the unbelievably sexy Arcanegel to sweeten the deal. Terry would not have bet a penny against a million dollars ten minutes ago that when made such an offer he would even need a microsecond to consider it. He felt a powerful desire to grab the small woman and see just how indestructible that metaweave suit was.

Mystic's reaction to this was telling. Her eyes which had been lidded nearly closed were now widely open, the pupils fully dilated. She had started sweating and her quick panting breaths doomed the distance between them intermittently. The most obvious effect was that she was now shaking, not a subtle trembling, but a full body jitter.

"You - like that idea don't you?" Terry was astonished to see the unmistakable evidence of her absolutely genuine love of the idea.

She blinked twice and began to fumble for words.

Terry stopped her from speaking with just a finger across her lips. This brought his forearm into contact with her in a very personal way. "Now I know something about you." He felt victorious. Now he had a button he could push on her. As Mystic stepped back and attempted to compose herself Terry went on as if nothing had happened (except that something spectacular had happened). "I don't like to make major life decisions in the heat of the moment, unless the needs of the situation demand it." He spoke directly to her, meeting her now eye to eye. I will give your offer serious consideration." Now the wry grin was his. He gave consideration how he could even the ground further between Mystic and himself, just for sport of course. There was a scepter that had been used against Action Man many years ago which could nullify the powers of metahumans in a certain radius. Terry wondered if the champions Club still had the magic device in safe keeping. The return of the uneasy expression on Mystic's face told him it was so. He would also need to see if he could talk to his former handler George. He would tell him he wanted to keep the deactivator he needed to remove the metaweave costume he wore as "Candidate J." George was ever eager to please.

The look on Mystic's face was priceless. Her eyes were wide open, her lips tightly shut, her chin down, looking up at him sheepishly, she resembled a little girl who had been caught stealing.
"Please ... don't ... tell anyone about..." She glanced around nervously.

Terry knew when next they met, Mystic would be prepared as well. This was war. He was looking forward to a great relationship with his first fantasy woman no matter what decision he made. He still marveled to himself; why am I deciding are you kidding me?

"I suppose I should feel rejected that my very best efforts could not tear you away from even the idea of a relationship with Julie." Mystic pouted dramatically. "Still maybe you might change your mind. I could maybe get Arcanegel to help." She turned and walked toward the door. Her gait put one foot directly in front of the other as she sauntered back to the stairway door. It was Impossible not to notice how this outlined her hips as she took slow deliberate steps. "Enjoy your comic book" she said once more looking at him over her shoulder. She opened the door and exited chuckling softly.

Curious, Terry went to the box and found the issue exactly where it should have been. (No filing system is too complicated for a mind reader after all). Terry extracted it from the box and read the bold black handwriting on the front cover:
To Perry,
Thanks for the ride!

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Updated 10-08-2015 at 04:04 PM by Zavaraxis

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