by Dan S.
Members of the Alliance of Mystery Heroes get together on a Friday night to watch a movie
|This isn't actually a story or even a chapter; it is the prologue for a story that features Zing, a character who doesn't have an active role in the prologue - setting the scene for her origin story.
Here's the story - Movie Night: The Super Speed Zombie Machine
It was movie night in Dr. Aeon's tower sanctum of Torr Neverwhon, o more accurately, it was Sturdiman Serial night. Sunset Aeon had long since finished her housekeeping chores; simple specialized magical cantrips long-since perfected for mundane tasks. Her Sanctum was neat as a pin, she had available ample refreshments such as popcorn and adult beverages, and most importantly, her magical Sturdiman Movie Maker simulacrum had finished generating tonight's exciting episode, The Super-Speed Zombie Machine, with special guest star The Rush.
Most of her guests, some of the members of the Alliance of Mystery Heroes, would be arriving in a half hour or so, but unless she missed her guess (an extremely infrequent event), the Sapphire Speedster Flux would be arriving in mere seconds. They had a quick chore to take care of before the party.
That's cute, she grinned at her own inadvertent joke. EVERYTHING related to Flux is quick!
Flux's super speed had been gradually increasing for years, which initially had been a good thing, but recently she'd begun having difficulty with controlling her power. As her powers were magical in nature, she had turned to Dr. Aeon, one of the most powerful mages in the world, for advice. Sunset had quickly diagnosed her.
"On my other-dimensional home world of Thalus, this is a rare but well-known condition. Most Thalusians have the power to absorb ambient magic, called mana, and then control and release that energy as magical spells capable of affecting the world around them, which gives almost everyone the ability to do magic. Some of us, such as me, have unfortunate conditions called manarexia, an extremely limited ability to absorb mana, or manasteria, an extremely limited ability to release mana. Too much magic absorbed and not released can cause dangerous changes in the physiology of those with the condition."
"I've discovered that the reason Earth humans don't exhibit these conditions is that there is so little mana in this environment. However, since you gained your super speed powers and joined the Alliance of Mystery Heroes, you have been hanging around powerful magics on a regular basis, your body has been absorbing more magic that you can release, and now you are starting to experience those dangerous changes."
"What will happen to me? Is there anything I can do?" Flux's voice was higher pitched than normal, and her words were spoken so quickly they were hard to understand.
"As a Doctor in Thaumagurgy, I know several spells that can remove the excess mana and return you to normal," Sunset had assured her friend. "I need some time to make preparations - why don't you come early on Friday night and we'll take care of it. It will only take a few minutes, and you'll be back to normal. Probably, from now on, we should schedule regular sessions maybe once a year. It will probably take years for you to absorb a dangerous amount again, but it would be safer to be sure."
She'd made her preparations, gathered the ingredients, and set about re-creating one of the treatment spells. After all, her spell books had been left behind when she had been exiled to Earth so she had slowly been writing new ones - and translating each spell from Thalusian to Atlantean, which she had discovered was the best Terran language for spell-casting.
The magical wards around the tower warned her when Flux arrived. The Sapphire Speedster ran up the side of the tower and vibrated through the aged stones. The short woman's form was blurred as if she were out of focus, and her greeting to greeted her friend was even more high pitched and jumbled together than at their last meeting. "It's a good thing we're doing this now; I misjudged how fast I am now, and accidentally ran around the world on the way here."
If she had not already cast the spell of Fluent Interlocution, Dr. Aeon would not have been able to understand her Alliance of Mystery Heroes teammate. As it was, she gestured to a previously prepared mystical diagram inscribed on the floor of her study, made some arcane gestures and spoke a quick few words in Atlantean, ending with an emphatic syllable: "Indistructible Eiseledy, siphon the excess mana from this woman.
/ XUVALU /"
For a brief instant, Flux was surrounded by a golden glow, which faded almost instantly, and when it vanished, she was back in focus, and her voice was back to normal. "Thanks, I feel just great I hope you have tequila this time If not, I'll run out and get some I could stop for some tacos on the way, too I hope the movie has that dreamy actor Jay Allen in it again What do you think of my new hairdo Did I tell you I've got a new dog What do you think of that new Elvis song Did you hear that Turquoise City is getting a team in the American Football League?"
"You're back to normal, all right, Betty Boop!" Dr. Aeon stunned her friend with a popular culture reference. She added affectionatly, "Always talking 90 miles a minute with an attention span of a half second!" "Let's go start the popcorn!"
"It's incredible how true to the serial these episodes you make are!" Sandy Trask, also known as Storm Bird, praised the movie. "And all the actors look and act so real and true-to-life, especially the supporting characters."
"I know people who act just like that Oley Jimson kid, starstruck hero worshipers who hang around and cause nothing but trouble," Maskadette added. No one knew her real identity; some speculated that she didn't either.
"You could probably make a lot of money, selling them. Since the publisher stopped publishing Sturdiman, I've heard a lot of people talk about how much they miss the serials." Raptor was about a decade younger than most of his teammates and often the most practical one.
"It would be more accurate to call this a "real time simulation," Sunset corrected her teammates. "I've set up a miniature world where magical simulacrums of all these characters actually go about their lives, even when we're not watching. I've spend years refining the simulation to this point, and I agree with you, it's just like watching another episode created by Monarch Pictures - except the flight scenes are real, not animations!" She grimaced. "I've approached people about releasing them, but the Actor's Guild has objected to my using their likenesses without them getting paid..."
"Quiet, you guys!" Zenith hissed. "It's time for the cliffhanger!"
On the mystical screen they were shown a laboratory where Mousieur Soudain had just finished strapping a struggling Asian woman to a table under what looked like a giant electrical tube, wrapped in glowing coils which were in turn wreathed in vapor.
Sturdiman bust through the wall like missile and smashed the machine to smithereens, followed closely by the Rush, who closed with Soudain before the other speedster could react. Almost off the edge of screen, the woman on the table vanished in an implosion of golden light. Then the view switched to Queen Quartz, who slammed home a foot-long knife switch, and the picture vanished in a tremendous explosion. The view faded to black, and credits began to scroll down the darkened screen. There was even a teaser for the next episode, "Immovable Object"!