A van pulled up in in a handicapped space in front of the auditorium at the base of the Stranger Industries building. An apparently chubby brown haired woman got out from behind the wheel and walked around to the back doors. She opened it, revealing a wheel chair ramp. “OK, Marilyn. Let’s get you out of there,” the woman said to the other one sitting in the wheelchair inside.
“Thanks Heather,” Marilyn replied as the straps were removed and she drove her chair down the ramp. “Let’s head inside.”
“Sure thing,” Heather Brown replied as she fell in step beside Marilyn Seong’s wheelchair. They made their way through the people streaming in and out of the auditorium. When they got to the entrance, Heather pulled out some papers and showed them to the attendant at the desk there and received passes in return. Then they entered the large room. Inside was filled with displays of robotics from companies all over the world. The largest one was the one that belonged to Stranger Industries, which was one sponsoring the event.
“Wow, this is really something,” Heather marveled, trying to take in everything at once. “It’s sure cool that they sent you an invite for this.”
“Yes,” Marilyn replied. “I’m glad they thought my research was impressive enough to send one.” She raised a hand to hold one of Heather’s. “And that they included one for a guest too.”
As they headed down an aisle, looking at the exhibits, they didn’t see the couple coming the other way. The woman was wearing grey coveralls with a tool belt covered with exotic tools. Her brown hair was in two ponytails. She was gesturing broadly with all her arms as she talked animatedly to her companion, a young man with blond hair who was wearing jeans and a T-shirt with a stylised bull on the front. As the two couples drew close to each other, the man saw she was going to run into Marilyn. He tried to warn her but she didn’t notice until she fell over the wheelchair and landed on Marilyn’s lap.
“Oh, I am so sorry,” Polygirl said as she pushed herself up. “I wasn’t watching where I was going because I explaining what these things to Gordon and I should have been and …”
“It’s OK,” Marilyn assured to the frantic young woman. “I can understand how a person can lose their focus in a place like this.”
Heather couldn’t stop staring at the young woman. “Your arms …” she said.
“What?” Polygirl said, confused. She held her four arms up and looked them over. “Is something wrong with them?”
“No. It’s just … don’t you have any problems with people about them.” She felt her own extra arms, hidden under her fat suit and sometimes had a mind of their own, twitch and concentrated on getting them to remain still.
“No” Polygirl replied as she lowered her arms. “Especially around here, ‘cause I’m one of the head techs here.”
Marilyn perked up when she heard that. “Wait. Are you Dr. Wilson?”
Poly giggled and said, “Technically, but I prefer Polygirl. And this is Gordon,” she continued, gesturing with one hand to her companion.
The wheelchair bound woman raised her hand and said, “I’m Marilyn Seong, and this Heather Brown.” Heather gave a little wave.
“Seong? From the Ohio Research University?” Poly asked. ”I read your last paper.”
“Really? What did you think?”
As the two of them began to discuss technical details, Gordon moved besides Heather and said, “They’re probably going to be at that for a while. I’m not really that big into all that scientific stuff.”
“Me neither,” Heather responded. “Well, at least not what they’re talking about. I’m more into biology.”
“Oh,” Gordon said, somewhat embarrassed realizing he was the least educated of the four.
Poly and Marilyn talked for a few more minutes and then Poly asked, “Hey, have you two had lunch yet?”
“No,” Marilyn said. “We were hoping to look around a bit before we went to get something to eat.”
“Well, Gordon and I were going, because I’m really, really hungry. How about you join us and then afterwards, I’ll give you a behind the scenes tour?”
Marilyn looked over at Heather, who nodded. She then said, “That sounds good. Do you know the High Brow Café?”
Poly nodded. “Yup, it’s a couple of blocks away. We’ll see you there.” The two couples split up, with Heather and Marilyn going back to their van. A short time later, they arrived at the restaurant. Poly and Gordon had arrived there before on a souped up scooter. The four of them entered and found a wheelchair accessible table. They ordered, with Gordon getting a small portion and Poly ordering more than the three of them combined.
Through the meal, they chatted, mainly Marilyn and Poly about robotics. When they were finished, Poly afforded to pay for everything, but Heather said, “Don’t worry about it. We can cover ourselves,” as she pulled out a gift card.
“Oh, you’ve been here before?” Gordon asked.
“No. They arrived in the mail soon after we got the invite,” Heather explained. “We figured that Stranger Industries sent them.”
Poly shook her head and said, “No. The company didn’t do anything like that.”
Heather and Marilyn traded confused looks and Heather said, “That’s weird.”
Meanwhile, outside, two figures were observing the foursome from a nearby rooftop. One was a muscular man in a skintight red and blue costume with a mask that covered his entire head except for his mouth and chin. On his back was a rack which held a number of two foot long metal spikes.
The other was an amalgamation of human and centipede. He was ten feet long, with four feet of that coiled on the ground. His body was colored brown and red. Along both of his sides were a multitude of centipede legs. He also had two spindly arms, which ended with a hand with two fingers and a thumb, on the upper part of his body. His face was nearly human except for his compound eyes and mandibles on either side of his mouth.
The man in the blue and red costume pulled out a phone and dialed a number. As soon as the call was answered, he said, “They’re here, but there’s a complication.”
“How so?” a silky female voice replied.
“They’re with a couple we’ve identified as local superhumans.”
The line was quiet, and then the woman asked in a slightly annoyed tone, “And you can’t handle them?”
“Didn’t say that,” the man replied. “It’s just that we’re only paid to deal with your two ‘friends’. So either the plan gets changed, or you kick in an extra 35% for us to handle them.”
The line was quiet again before the woman responded. “Very well, the money will be transferred to your account. But I EXPECT not to be disappointed.”
“Trust me, you won’t be. We’re professionals.” With that, the man terminated the call and then said to his companion, “Nice lady. I bet you’d like her, Myriapod. You got a lot in common.” Myriapod didn’t respond other than clicking his mandibles in annoyance. “All right, let’s tell Delindy and ‘Wind the plan has changed and get in place.”
A few minutes later, Heather, Marilyn, Poly, and Gordon came out of the restaurant. As they headed to their vehicles, the man in the blue and red costume suddenly stepped out in front of them and slashed down at Heather with one of his spikes attached to the back of his forearms. It tore through not just her clothes, but also the fat suit she wore to hide her extra arms. It split open, revealing them as well as her Spinnerette costume that she wore beneath it. “Who ..?” she said in confusion.
“The name’s Memo Spike,” the man said, crossing his forearms in front of him to display his weapons. “And these are the tools of my trade.”
Then they heard a hissing sound and looked over to see Myriapod clinging to the side of a building. He leapt down at them, only to meet Gordon’s fist. Heather noted with surprise that he had gotten larger and more muscular. The centipede-man hit the ground, but quickly recovered and flipped over. At the same time, Memo Spike prepared to charge.
Marilyn looked up at Polygirl and said, “Get me to the van!” Poly nodded and guided the wheelchair away. The two mercenaries let them go. Heather shed the remnants of her disguise and pulled the mask up over her face. She didn’t know how this guy knew who she was, but she didn’t want to let anyone else find out. Memo Spike lunged at her with one of his spikes, but she shot a webline from the spinneret at the base of her spine and dodged the attack. Meanwhile, the flattened Myriapod scurried towards Raging Bull, who repulsed him by slamming a fist against the ground.
Polygirl had gotten Marilyn to the van. Inside, the wheelchair confined scientist pressed a concealed button. Mechanical arms emerged and removed her clothes, revealing the chestplate beneath it. It was helping her overcome the symptoms of her ALS and appear in better health than she actually was. The arms then placed the rest of her Mecha Maid armor on. She hadn’t really wanted to reveal her identity to Polygirl, but she didn’t really have a choice at this point. Plus, she felt she could trust her, even though she had only known her for a short time.
As Mecha Maid rocketed from the van to help Spinnerette and Raging Bull, Polygirl pulled out her Guardians communicator to call for back up. However, before she could activate it, a shuriken struck her hand and she dropped it. Before she could pick it up, the tip of a blade appeared in front of it. She followed it up to find it being held by a young man in grey ninja-like garb. His mask covered the lower part of his face while leaving his eyes and black hair exposed. “I’m sorry,” he said almost apologetically, “But I can’t let you get anyone else involved.
Mecha Maid charged towards Memo Spike, but before she could reach him, her heads up display flashed a warning. She stopped suddenly and a lamppost swung through the space she nearly occupied. She saw that a large, muscular woman holding. She had chalk white skin with green hair, eyes, and lips. She was wearing a skin tight white costume that had a green stripe running down one of the sides. “Human germ!” she yelled at Mecha Maid. “Prepare to face defeat at the hands of Delindy the Destroyer!”
Meanwhile, Spinnerette shot a webline at Memo Spike. He blocked them with his weapons, which resulted in them being stuck together. “Why are you doing this?” She demanded as she kept out of his possible reach.
“Now why would a group of mercenaries be doing anything,” he replied sarcastically.
“Someone paid you to attack me?” she asked.
“Not just that, but to set this whole thing up,” he said as he ejected the stuck together spikes and then reached back to the rack to get a new one. “I was also supposed to tell you that the woman whose name you stole hasn’t forgotten about you.” And then he attached it to his forearm and pressed a button. A tongue of flame shot out, almost hitting Spinnerette who was shocked by the revelation that the first villain she had fought, the so-called Evil Spinnerette, was behind this.
Raging Bull was trying to pound Myriapod, but wasn’t able to hit the fast scurrying centipede man even though he was ten feet long. Mydiapod was doing everything he could to avoid being hit. He scrambled over to where Delindy was laughing off the missiles Mecha Maid was firing at her. “You can handle this one,” he said as he moved past her.
The muscular woman turned towards Raging Bull who was charging at her. She greeted him with an uppercut that knocked him back. Gordon shook his head as the punch had rattled him. He realised that she was stronger than he was, so he let his anger level increase. As a result, he grew larger. He looked at Delindy and let a blast of steam out of his nose before charging her again. She tried to strike him again, only for him to dodge it while seizing her arm and used her momentum to flip her onto the pavement. As she picked herself up, she laughed and called to him, “Yes, that’s it. Prove yourself to be a worthy opponent!”
Meanwhile, Mecha Maid had once more turned to help her girlfriend, but Myriapod had scaled the front of a building and jumped off of it onto her. He began to try to wrap himself around her. The shock of the impact shook her, and she had to struggle to maintain flight. It didn’t help that Myraipod kept moving around. Once she had righted herself, she began to struggle back. She didn’t have any weapons that could deal with threats at this range, so she had to use her strength to keep him from constricting her.
Back at the van, Poly had her upper set of hands in the air while one of her other hand rubbed the other, which had been the one that was hit with the shuriken. “So, that’s a nice sword,” she said nervously.
“Thank you. I made it myself,” Silent Wind replied. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you unless you do something really stupid. I’m the most reasonable member of my group. And they’re not going to hurt your friends seriously. We were simply paid to harass your new friends.”
“That’s … good to know,” she replied uneasily as she casually move her lower set of hands close to one of the panic buttons hidden in her jumpsuit.
Just then, beepers on all the mercenary villains went off. In response, Silent Wind pulled a small ceramic sphere out of a fold in his clothing. He threw it on the ground, creating a smoke cloud. When it cleared, he was gone. Delindy, who had been trading blows with Raging Bull, faked a punch to the left and when he went to block it, she drove a precise blow into his gut, driving the breath out of him. Myriapod stopped trying to wrap up Mecha Maid and pushed off of her, sailing towards Spinnerette. She was caught off guard as he landed on her and so was unprepared when he spread his mandibles and bit her shoulder.
Spinnerette let out a scream and fall to the ground. “Heather!” Mecha Maid yelled as the centipede man scurried away. She sped over to her fallen lover. Polygirl did too as one of her duplicates recovered the Guardians communicator and called for back-up. Gordon got to his feet, holding his abdomen, and staggered over.
“It’s … it’s not as bad as it looks,” Spinnerette gritted out through her teeth. She pulled back her costume to reveal two puncture wounds on her shoulder. “I think he injected me with some kind of poison, but I’m immune to it.”
Hearing that she was OK, Mecha Maid turned to confront the villains, but they had departed. She switched to the tracking systems in her costume, but it came back it unfortunate results. “Damn it,” she said out loud.
“What is it?” Polygirl asked as she looked up from tending to Gordon.
Mecha Maid turned with a frown. “The area is filled with a high but not dangerous level of radiation in the area. It’s scrambling my tracking sensors.”
Just then, several other members of the Guardians, the superhero team that Poly and Raging Bull were part of, showed up. They started searching for the villains, but they were long gone by then. Meanwhile, Polygirl invited Spinnerette and Mecha Maid back to the Guardians’ headquarters to treat Spinnerette’s wounds.
While they were at the med bay there, Heather said to Marilyn, “You know, I think we should stop going on vacations. After this and what happened in Canada…”
“Shut up,” Marilyn replied, playfully swatting her. Then she turned to Poly who was examining Gordon and said, “Sorry you had to get caught up in this.”
Poly shrugged. “It’s OK. These things happen, especially in this city.”
“Are you all right?” Heather asked Gordon.
“Yeah,” he said as he got off the exam table. “Just got the wind knocked off out of me.”
“Well, the expo is nearly over by this point, but if you’d like, I can show you around my personal lab,” Poly said.
“That sound’s good,” Heather said and Marilyn nodded in agreement. As they headed to the exit, she said, “Maybe sometime you could come and visit us in Columbus.”
“OK, but hopefully it’ll be less ‘interesting’ then today,” Gordon said, causing the others to laugh.