<< WINNER >>
Cherilly’s World was in deep trouble. An asteroid was lining up for a direct hit close to the heart of the world. If the humans clinging to this planetary outpost weren’t annihilated in the moment of impact, they’d all perish from the fires and radiation that were sure to follow. They desperately needed a superhero.
People on Barathea developed strange powers and superheroes were two a penny. Everyone knew that. So when Cherilly’s data miners went looking, Helen’s name came up. Trouble was, Helen had left Barathea because she was normal.
# # #
She was tidying up after a late meal, considering which of the pioneer worlds might pay her the highest premium after her work on Cherilly’s. She was ready to move on; her boss, Gilmore, was getting sweet on her and she just didn’t do emotional entanglements. Her work with the meteorite would give her both a competitive advantage and an excuse to leave. She was lost in her musings and didn’t expect the knock on the door at this hour. Without waiting for her to open it, the door admitted the visitor.
Tall, black leather clad, with a full face helmet on. The voice of the law enforcement grunt came out distorted by the helmet speakers.
“GOD wants to see you. Now!”
He was obviously used to having people jump to obey orders but Helen was made of sterner stuff than that.
“The Governor of the Outer Dominions will have to wait. I need to feed my pair of katz otherwise they’ll strip the place bare, and start on the structure itself. Then the block will collapse and people will start to panic.”
She called out, “Stalin! Food now.”
The grunt remarked,
“Hell of a name for a katz. What’s the other one called? Pol Pot?”
“No, because that would be overkill!” she replied tartly.
She could see he was getting impatient, twitchy even.
“Tell you what. I’ll come along as soon as I’ve found them. I know where GOD lives.”
The grunt agreed, reluctantly. He had other people to collect and didn’t want to get hung up on one small scientist, even if said scientist had a kick ass figure and a cloud of pale blond hair to die for.
As soon as he’d left, Stalin sauntered out from his hiding place, Ghost hot on his heels.
“A fine pair of katz you are. What do you think GOD wants?”
Unsurprisingly the pair didn’t answer her. They could talk in her head if they wanted, but now they wanted to feed. They were feeding when the second interruption came. Once more the door admitted the visitor without asking first. She was going to have to play with its programming real soon.
This one had class and style. Again he was tall. Any resemblance to the previous grunt stopped there. The orange dreadlocks betrayed his affiliations.
“What does the Pirate King want this time?” she asked, putting just the right amount of world weariness into her voice.
“That would be Lord Cortes to the likes of you. He wants to see you. Now.”
“He’d better stand in line. I’ve an appointment to see GOD as soon as I’ve got my katz settled.”
“It would be to your advantage to see Lord Cortes first,” he insisted, touching his hand to the large curved electro sword stuffed through his waist sash. “Oh and bring the katz. You won’t be coming back.”
# # #
Cortes was, as always, impeccably polite, but firm. “I need to look after you. I can’t let GOD take you. It would ruin my plans.”
“No! I don’t want your protective custody. I’ve got a job to do, and neither you nor GOD is going to stop me doing it. Besides I keep telling you, I don’t have any superpowers; just a lot more common sense than you planetary dominion types.”
She couldn’t just wait in safety for the pirate and GOD to resolve their issues. They all knew what the problem was. The people would have to be evacuated and there simply weren’t enough ships. How could anyone decide who should go and who should stay to die? GOD had been trying to organise the evacuation and it had got totally out of hand. The pirate was cashing in on GOD’s uselessness. Of course, Cortes would have his own exit route sewn up, she knew that.
Both GOD and Cortes seemed to expect her to simply vanish the meteorite. Then no evacuation would be necessary. She had an inkling of how to do it if she had enough time. Her prototype meteorite tractor beam still needed testing. But it would work, she knew it.
She let the katz out of their coop, trusting them to run interference for her and made a bid for the exit. Ghost sprang at Cortes, landing heavily on his shoulder. Cortes instantly threw himself back in his chair. You didn’t argue with a katz especially when it was that close to your jugular. Meanwhile Stalin lived up to his name, wreaking havoc and taking Cortes’ man down in the process.
Helen slipped quietly out of the door and made her way back to her lab. The people of Cherilly’s World needed her. She had a battle with a meteorite to plan and execute. She’d come to this world because unlike Barathea’s superheroes, she had no superpowers. But it seemed the compulsion to save worlds didn’t make that distinction.
“Fine!” she thought. “I’ll cope. But I’ll have to save the world by applying scientific principles and common sense. Ought to be manageable!”