Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Meta Corps: Dream of the Youth (Part 4)

Chapter 4

             A cup of hot chocolate held by a long arm floated in front of Lora. A blue flame came from the palm to keep it hot and it was put on the saucer. Lora thanked the arm.
 “What do you mean you backed out, Cindy?” The long arms owner, Helena Christophers asked. “I gave you that clamp so that you could learn to slip through it, not let it collect dust and look like some cog out of Victorian era science fiction.”
 Lora blew some steam from her cup to take a sip; Cindy sat right across from her at the small kitchen table. Cindy held up her hands.
 “I know that, but, like, the peephole makes me dizzy when I adjust it for, umm… under three inches? I have to really work to not barf all over myself when I’m, like, half way through. What do I do?”
 Helena crossed her arms; they melded and stretched into each other while giving off a hard sheen.
 “Did you try and go in by the feet and push that way? The peephole can work both ways; your head doesn’t have to be poking out first.”
 Cindy smiled.
 “It does if you want a smoother childbirth.”
 Lora snorted as she sipped her beverage. She choked what she had down and tried to keep from giggling. Helena glared at Cindy and tried to stifle her own laughter. Cindy just smiled at Helena, seeing through her cracks.
 Helena rolled her eyes.
 “Can’t believe you did that…” She whispered and turned to Lora. Her hair swayed as if it was weighted. It was a very light brown with azure colored streaks here and there.
 “So you’re the new EnWol on the block, Lora?”
 Lora nodded and chuckled.
 “Yep, apparently.”
 Helena nodded and turned to Cindy
 “How did you find her this quickly? Trippi can do it in…” Helena shook her head, “…days. This took about three hours.”
 Cindy shrugged.
 “I just walked out of the bathroom and there she was.”
 Helena’s mouth gapped open, and she looked to the ceiling.
 “Do I even need to know?”
 Cindy shrugged again and mumbled, “I don’t know.”
 Helena went back to Lora.
 “Okay, Lora, Ms. Pink Lemon, I’m guessing that by your lack of changing the default colors, you don’t know what powers the gauntlets gave you, is this true?”
 Lora put her cup down and stuck her tongue out as if to examine it herself.
 “Hot.” She said and looked at Helena.
 “Not really, I’m sorry.” She scraped her tongue on the roof of her mouth.
 Cindy chuckled, her chin resting in her hands.
 “That’s totally what happens when you ask The Dazzling Blaze herself to make you some choco.” She muttered.
 Helena nodded.
 “Well, you can obviously stretch and fly. Can you manipulate ice? Fire? Electricity?”
 “That last one’s awesome when it’s done right.” Cindy said.
 Lora looked into space, puzzled.
 “I don’t know. How can I check?”
 Cindy suddenly had a thought. She butt-in with what she knew in her gut was very important information. She stood up.
 “Helena wait, umm, I don’t think that Lora can, like, stretch or anything. She’s still solid.”
 Helena looked at her with a sly smile, knowing that Cindy could be full of it sometimes. Helena studied Cindy for her own cracks in her sincerity, and could tell that her apprentice was serious this time. Helena’s expression turned from light arrogance to concern. She looked Lora over, instinctually stretching her neck out at a modest length for a better look.
 Helena held out her hand and asked for Lora’s. She presented her pink-gloved hand with her palm and wrist at an angle with flexed fingers. Helena gripped Lora’s hand, unsure of how to proceed. It remained solid when squeezed with some wincing being the only response.
 “Darlin’ I should be molding your hand like its jelly; pushing fingers back into a sphere and everything. I still feel a bone structure. Cindy, did you see her dissolve?”
Lora’s eyes widened and her breath caught.
“Dissolve? Mrs. Helena, what do you mean by dissolve?” Lora asked.
 Helena let go of Lora’s hand.
 “It works like this, when the gauntlets are first put on, they eat away at a person’s body and convert it to, well, goopy silver.” Helena held her Caucasian arm up and the skin turned into a perfect mirror. “This permanent transformation allows us to stretch and take damage unharmed.”
 Helena’s arm went back to normal.
Lora hesitated.
 Helena flicked her hand up.
 “Here, take the gauntlets off and put them back on, maybe it needs to reset. If so, then you should be able to form your clothes subconsciously for modesties sake after converting.”
 Lora’s face flushed and she tried to hide a bashful smile. She tried to ask a question, but it did not come out right against her giggles. Cindy had a wide smile. Helena examined the context and tried to answer.
 “No, I’m not sure if you’ll be naked or not.”
 Lora giggled a bit harder; she was too embarrassed to excuse herself. She looked at the gauntlets and decided to face the situation. Her smile abruptly fell as she undid the hinges. She pried them both off and nothing happened. The pink and yellow outfit remained.
 Helena nodded and Lora let her tension go with a smile.
 “Okay, that’s odd.” Helena said. “There should be a flash and you should be in street clothes. Put them back on. You should be able to stretch afterward.”
 Lora looked at the undone gauntlets and gulped. She hesitated.
 “Oh, umm… Alright. I’m not sure, but here I go…” Lora put them both on as Cindy and Helena watched without proper sympathy.
Lora secured each of the six latches, and fastened the last one ever so slowly. The three waited for proper results.
Lora looked up and shrugged.
Helena sneered. She stretched out to pull Lora’s arm up and examine a gauntlet. Lora let Helena hoist her. Helena found no change in a supposed pliable transformation.
 “This is a little distressing, to be EnWol is to be a silver goop, like peanut butter and jelly. You need to stretch Lora. An EnWol without the elasticity is like a jelly sandwich.”
 “Breakfast?” Lora asked.
 Cindy nodded.
 “I was thinking about that too.”
 Helena clicked her tongue.
 “No, you know what I mean. I haven’t properly eaten in decades. It’s the catalyst of being a quality EnWol. I’ll let Bronson know about this glitch; you need to stretch, Lora.”
 Lora made a fake laugh.
 “Umm, I’m not too excited about that. The idea of my turning stretchy, it… it sounds kind of yucky really. No offense.”
 Cindy wrinkled her nose a little bit and Helena nodded.
 “None taken. The idea of turning into slime is daunting, I’ll admit, but after my first year as an EnWol, I didn’t see any other way of living.”
 Cindy stood up and motioned toward Lora.
 “Wait, I want to know why this even happening. Or not happening, what the crap ever. What’s wrong?” She asked.
 Helena touched her lips.
 “I don’t know.” She caught a grin from Cindy and answered before she got a chance to ask.
 “But no, you can’t try them on for fun, nothing will happen anyway.”
 Helena had hit the mark on the head and Cindy deflated.
Lora looked up at Helena with a look that begged for sympathy.
“What do we do, Mrs. Helena?” Lora asked.
An idea erupted from Lora’s gaze. Helena turned to Cindy, hands on her hips.
 “Cindy, are you joshing me again? Is she really next up in line, or is she just one of your dinky little meta friends?”
 Lora grimaced. Cindy shot up, her height stretching up and down a few inches in effect.
 “What? No! Of course not! I’m a big kidder, but this is like a new presidential elect. I totally can’t joke about this! She is the new EnWol, those are the proper gauntlets for the job. Gaia’s gumball, I even saw her transform with the buh-buh-buh noise that those stupid car stereos make.”
Helena crossed her arms.
“EnWol need to stretch; that’s how the Heroes made the gauntlets. What makes her EnWol and not a normal meta? Elastic metas and EnWol do not share the same fluidity.”
 Cindy blinked. She searched for an answer and made some croaks as she cut herself off.
 “Lora… Lora can fly?”
 Helena nodded.
 “Uh-huh. So can ninety percent of the metas on the planet. What else?”
 Cindy was on the verge of tears and Lora shared the emotion.
 “She… she can commandeer ice and lightning? I don’t know! I saw the friggin transformation. Lora experienced the thing and got that suit from it. I can’t prove any more otherwise. This is totally bogus!”
Helena’s gaze went to Lora’s bright outfit.
Lora got up to round the table and comfort Cindy; she absentmindedly started to clean up her friends platinum hair. Helena took her arm and Lora stared at her, unsure of what was going on.
 Cindy continued.
 “I don’t know what you want. Literally, like, all of the descriptions of the transformation matched. Sonic boom, flashing light, all that except for the… the gooyification.” Cindy said. She wiped her eyes and noticed that Helena was preoccupied. Cindy stood up, trying to figure out what was going on.
 “Mrs. Helena…?” Lora started.
 “What are you doing?” Cindy finished.
 “Don’t move, Lora…” Helena took a wad of Lora’s sleeve in her fist and walked backward. The suit stretched out across the kitchen with ease. Helena peered at the outfit’s detail and Cindy joined her.
Lora stared slack jawed at the distance her costume was getting. Her eyes fluttered.
 “What’s going on?” Lora asked.
 Helena’s neck stretched a little and she looked up at Lora while chewing her lip.
 “EnWol silver. Both the suit and I are made of the same material. Other EnWol are naturally warm, so this can’t be someone else in disguise. Cindy, you were right about her.”
 Cindy smiled.
 “Ha! The Blaze got smoked.”
Helena rolled her eyes. She returned to her normal shape and then let her arm stretch back to Lora with the costume.
 “This hasn’t happened before; it’s probably a glitch in Bronson’s work.” Helena said and brought her arm back.
 “How do we fix this?” Lora asked. She smoothed her sleeve out and then tugged it herself.
 Helena shrugged.
 “Well, if this can’t be fixed, than you’re going to have to let the bad guys kick your trash if you want to be a Pink Lemon. It doesn’t look like you want to finish your transformation though, so I don’t know.”
 “I’d like it.” Cindy said.
 Helena nodded.
 “Yes, I know that you would like it, but you also said that you wanted to be your own hero without the EnWol powers too.”
 Cindy shrugged.
 “Well, I don’t mind either way.” Cindy trotted back up to Lora and wrapped her arm around her shoulder.
 “So, how are we going to test what her offense is if her defense is shot?” Cindy asked.
 “I was trained in a self defense class with Cindy by my side. I can fight people away if I really need to.” Lora said.
 Helena nodded.
 “Yes, but how are your long range attacks? Even as EnWol silver, we can’t get some people by stretching alone. We have to have a secondary power. Florence can generate electricity, I can shoot fire,” Helena’s thumb flicked up and a blue flame erupted from the tip, “and Nita Rafaela can control ice. All work to help immobilize a threat for easy capture.”
 Helena looked to her kitchen cabinets and stretched her arms out.
 Cindy nodded.
 “Yeah, you gotta have something, Lora.” Cindy said. Lora nodded with a frown, a little unsure of herself.
 Helena grabbed a bowl, filled it with water, and retracted her arms to set it next to Lora’s cup of hot chocolate. Her feet never moved.
 “Okay, let’s see if I can remember how Nita described this…” Helena drummed her fingers on the table in thought.
 Lora studied the water. As it settled, it rippled toward her, like small-scale waves at the beach. As she leaned in for a closer look, the water became more agitated. Lora passed her hand over the water where a bulge followed it.
 Cindy started to ask what her friend was doing, when Lora made a much closer pass. The water leaped onto Lora’s hand, making the bone-dry bowl wobble across the table. Lora shrieked and stood up so quickly that the chair fell on its back. A shaken Cindy and Helena stared at her, her hand in particular.
 Several crackling spikes of ice immobilized her outstretched hand. It clunked onto the table, spreading inches of frost in all directions. Lora’s breath caught and she held her chest.
 “What did you do?” Helena asked.
 Lora shook her head.
 “I don’t know. It was… attracted to me.”
 She looked at the ball and felt at a random spire. She gave a nervous chuckle.
 “That is a pretty cool trick though.” Her fright was poorly disguised.
 Helena shrugged.
 “Well, that’s that then. You and your partner can control ice. Wherever your partner is, anyway.”
 “What partner?” Lora asked.
Helena put Lora’s hand in the bowel and warmed her hand.
 “A Pink Lemon needs a Crimson Cherry. The EnWol Duo always comes in pairs, with Clive Ogden being the exception. I don’t doubt that you will be getting some help, Lora.”
 “Do you think that Ms. Cherry will be able to stretch too?” Lora asked.
 Helena shrugged. Lora’s fingers were free up to the second knuckle.
 “Or a Mr. Cherry, it’s impossible to say which until we meet them. I don’t really know if they will be able to stretch or not. The individual gauntlets have their own power source for each person, so it’s unlikely that the glitch would go across both sets.”
 Cindy chuckled and leaned back in her seat.
 “Well, I think it would be cool to be EnWol. Fly around and stretch…”
 “But, you do that already, Cindy. You don’t need the other pair.” Lora said.
 The last bit of ice fell from Lora’s hand. Helena took the bowel away to dump out the water and Lora flexed her aching hand.
“Well, why not up the ante?” Cindy asked. “Be a legal and true hero, kicking bad guy butt and shocking them silly. I totally think that I would make a good EnWol. Maybe I’ll be Lora’s Cherry. Going around with her, and fighting. Bam!” Lora jumped as Cindy’s fists flew above Lora’s head and back.
 “Poof! Boom! I bet that I could do it too. You think it will be me, Helena?”
 Helena shrugged.
 “The gauntlets read off the feelings of the wearer; it depends on Lora’s subconscious thoughts and how capable she thinks someone is. This is for compatibility. With her quip about how you can already stretch and fly, Cindy, I doubt that they will show up for you at all.” 

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