“Okay, let’s go over the plan one more time.”
The gargoyle let out a sigh that sounded more like two rocks grinding against one another to everyone on the other side of the communicator. Gargoyle stood on a mountaintop, their legs compressing over a foot of snow beneath their weight. He clacked the two skis he had together so they could be heard on the other side of the call. The skis, much thicker than normal skis, clunked and echoed off the nearby peak. “I got it. I ski on signal.”
“Correct,” said the intern, Sammi.
“I think he has it,” Pat’s voice added from somewhere in the background of the control room..
“I just need this to be perfect. It’s the first op I’m running all on my own.”
“I have question,” said Gargoyle.
“What is it?”
“Well,” the intern replied, “we need to get you down to their cabin as soon as we have confirmation that Spartox is actually there. With your lack of body heat, you won’t show up on their detections and by being low to the ground you won’t show up on their air radar, and by coming from the mountain you avoid all of the security concentrated on the road leading to the cabin.”
“Okay.” Gargoyle nodded to no one.
“Okay you got it?”
“Why not cloak?”
“We don’t have any kind of cloaking that will do all we need it to.”
“Pentacloak of Torow”
“What’s he talking about?” the intern asked to everyone else in the control room.
“Oh. Yeah. That’s right,” Patty said. “There is that cloak in the warehouse that reflects light and heat and three other things or so. I forgot about that.”
“Are you serious?”
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me about this until just now. I’m going to screw this up and we are going to lose Spartox and I’m going to lose this internship on my first actual mission.”
“It’s not funny,” said Sammi.
“Well, it kind of is,” said Patty.
“Good one garg,” said Patty.
“No cloak.” He laughed some more. “Just joke.”
Sammi took a deep breath. “Fine, are you ready?”
“Yes. I know plan. I not dumb. I just speak bad.”
Defendant defender surveyed his office. When he had told the courier to unload the findings to his office, he did not realize how much space it would be. Boxes upon boxes, no doubt, filled to the brim with papers that he would have to sift through before the trial.
“What is it Double D?” his sidekick asked as she walked towards him in the hall carrying two cups.
“The prosecution just gave us a ton of material to sift through. They’re trying to make it impossible to find anything relevant to the case. I think we’ll need a lot more coffee. Do we have the materials or should I send someone out for more?”
“We should have plenty.” She hands Defendant defender one of the cups.
“Thank you.” He took a sip.
She looked into the office and realized why Defender was standing in the hall. There was hardly anywhere left to stand in the room with all of those boxes. She squeezed past him and found a place to stand. “I just wish we didn’t have so much paperwork to sift through.”
Defendant Defender spat out his coffee.
“Take it back!”
Smoke appeared before them with a popping sound. Out of the smoke emerged the image of topless green man from the waist up. Below, a floating lamp.
The green torso crossed its arms. “Did someone make a legal wish?
“No, legal genie. You misheard.”
“I never mishear. I believe your assistant? Sidekick? Junior defender?”
“Guardian Girl” she said.
“Whoever they are, I believe said,” The genie opened their mouth and instead of his voice repeating her words, her words were repeated in her own voice. “I just wish we didn’t have so much paperwork to sift through.”
“They recant it.”
“Yeah, I recant it.”
The Legal Genie frowned “Well, I do have a one hour cancellation policy.” However, in order to take part in the cancellation.” The Legal Genie pulled out a scroll and quickly unwound it to find a part at the very bottom. “It looks like to evoke the cancellation of any wish, you must do so from the top of Black Mountain. Weird.” The genie snapped and all of the boxes expelled their lids. The papers inside floated out and rushed out the now open window. The genie followed.
The Defendant Defender downed his coffee. He threw the cup to the floor and ran down the hallway. “With me, Guardian Girl. We must hurry!”
“What is it?”
The remaining members of Spell squadron looked up into the sky to see what Clepsammia was pointing toward. A glowing blue shape loomed in the air.
“You think that’s our cold culprit?”
“I am detecting no spells or magic coming from the object,” said Spellbinder. “Are we sure this is our kind of thing?”
“A glowing blue shape shows up in the sky and turns desert town into winter wonderland? I think that’s firmly in our wheelhouse.”
“Wherewolf, is anything similar happening anywhere else?” asked Lady.
“No, the temperature change seems entirely local.”
“Do we . . .” Clepsammia kicked some snow. “Do we fight it?”
“We need to do something. It looks like it’s moving or getting bigger.”
“Spellbinder can you track it’s movement?”
“I suppose so even though it is the least of my mind’s capabilities.”
“I know, but none of us are as good at you at those oh so complex calculations.”
“You flatter me.”
“I wish I didn’t have to.” Lady looked up and spotted a new helicopter passing over them. “Looks like we’re going to be on TV. Wave for the cameras.”
The helicopter circled them a few times before taking more interest in the blue shape sharing their air space.
Lady rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Jon, Cleps, keep an eye on the birdie. We don’t need people dying if that thing—” The shape lurched forward and intersected with the helicopter. One of the blades snapped and the copter started to dive.
“On it,” yelled the Clepsammia as they both sprung into action. Jon cast a spell through a hand held mirror which turned the snow into a slide to get him to the helicopters impromptu landing site. Clepsammia jumped onto the slide behind him and then her hat swallowed her a second later. That hat continuing her momentum on the slide.
“Well that’s another dead end.”
Dial-up turned around and shot off another burst of electricity. The gelatinous form following froze in its tracks as arcs of energy coursed through it. This paralysis allowed Dial-up to squeeze past the jelly mass. They ran away from the stunned foe.
“I never thought I’d prefer the lab to this maze, but—”
Another piece of sticky substance leapt out of a side passage and absorbed Dial-up into its form. Dial-up almost instinctively shot another electric burst but then realized where he would be in relation to its target and decided better. Instead Dial-up struggled until it was able to reach its own body. They switch a finger from normal finger standby mode into small knife active mode. It cut into a spot in its abdomen and started to leak a fluid. The fluid turned the semi-fluid surrounding it into a solid. Dial up struggled again and the mass broke into pieces around it.
Dial-up was free, but wouldn’t last long without it’s coolant to keep it from overheating. Dial-up switched its senses to a more active scanning mode and walked away from the defeated slime. It shouldn’t run unless it had to. Dial-up opened up a communication to Broadband. This dialogue took only a few second in real-time and actually heard would be high pitched squeals and beeps. As they were both robots this was the most efficient way for them to communicate with one another, but for the purposes of this story and podcast, I will now relay it as if you also could speak robot:
“Where are you?”
“At the lab.”
“I told you not to leave when we’re on a mission.”
“But I can be there in just a moment.”
“What happened to your tele-body?”
Broadband does not reply.
“Did you trash it already?”
“I stepped on it.”
“You have to be more careful. We even modified your torso to have a little garage to park it into if you’re nearby.”
“Maybe we need to get a body you keep at the lab and can’t take on trips. Would that help you from stepping on it?”
“Well, can you come help me out? I’m leaking coolant and this isn’t a place where I want to go down.”
“Already on my way.”
Dial-up and Broadband’s conversation only took a few seconds, but in the time it took to recount their conversation Broadband had arrived at Dial-up’s location. Broadband tore through the ground above Dial-up and scooped them from the pipes they had been investigating for the past hour. Broadband brought Dial-up to their chest and Dial-up entered. Dial-up found what they needed in the makeshift workshop that would patch them up until they could get a more permanent fix for the damage they caused to themself. Dial-up paused a beat. For any organic lifeform this would have been the moment where they sighed with relief, but not having lungs, Dial-up merely took a moment to process everything before they continued to do what needed to be done. They took the elevator in Broadband’s spine up to Broadband’s head and sat down in the command chair.
“Safe and sound,” chirped Broadband to Dial-up.
“Not yet, buddy.” Dial-up turned Broadband’s attention to the hole they had created to excavate Dial-up. Through the hole oozed a mass of slime. Each individual creature glomming onto the next until the mass of them stood nearly as tall as Broadband itself.
“I love it when I can pick on someone my own size.” Broadband wound up and threw a punch at the creature. Exploding slime in every direction from its impact.
Lady talked at Spellbinder, but she was actually speaking through them. Spellbinder was much more durable than a cellphone on a mission.
“Lady? We’ve never worked together in any real capacity, but you may know me as Aqualion or Aqua Lion.”
“I’ve heard of you. What’s up?”
“I saw your team on the news. I . . . that town in in great danger. You have to evacuate everyone.”
“You know what this is?”
“Yeah.” He took a deep breath. “I encountered it a few times before.”
“What is it? We can’t find any intel on it.”
“I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I do know you can’t fight it. It exists on a different plane or something. It’s got too many dimensions. You have to evacuate that town or they’ll all die.”
“Thanks for the head’s up.” Lady nodded and Spellbinder disconnected the call.
“I hate that, you know.”
“You were listening in, right?”
“You scan the nearby dimensions and planes earlier?”
“Doing so now.” Spellbinder’s eyes flickered different colors before settling on one. “Simple fifth dimensional being. Nothing magical about it.”
“Fifth dimension is entirely our wheelhouse though, you do have to admit.” Lady looked up at the slice of the being she could see in this dimension. She watched as a huge flock of birds approached. The cold probably had all of their instincts out of whack and they’re trying to go south for the summer. She got ready to wince as their passing would freeze all of them to death, but continued to watch. She watched but the flock never stopped. They passed right through the slice of glowing blue sky and continued on their way as if freezing was not obstacle. She wondered how that was possible, but Spellbinder pulled her out of her introspection.
“What’s the plan?”
“Mist, any goggles in the manor?”
A form of mist congealed near the duo and spoke. “Various enchanted spectacles in the armory.”
“Just normal ones will do.”
Ms. Mist disappeared into herself.
“When she brings them back, you’re going to enchant them with with a way to see fifth dimensionally.”
Lady held Jon Morris and Clepsammia in her thoughts so she could reach them through the mist communication network they had. “Mist is going to be bringing you some goggles or glasses momentarily. They’ll let you see what we’re up against. Join us once everything is safe there.”
“Roger,” said Jon’s voice in her ears.
She didn’t realize how much she had missed Ms. Mist until he she had returned. She turned to Spellbinder to see him already enchanting the glasses. She grabbed a pair from his hands and Ms. Mist grabbed the other three and dissipated once more.
Lady put on her glasses. “Ready Binder?”
“What do you mean the mountain is closed?”
Defendant defender leaned out of his car’s window.
“Sir, the mountain is closed. We suggest you turn around.” The man outside the car put his hands on his hips.
“Dee,” Guardian Girl whispered from the passenger seat. “They’re armed. Look at the way they the ones in the back have their hands.”
“Alright, we’ll be turning around then.” Defendant Defender rolled up his window. “Yes, they are armed, but we are sworn to never take the first step in escalating any action. We must only defend.”
“Are we not neglecting the defense of our client by letting any chance of him surviving this trial be whisked away by some genie?”
Defendant Defender mulled over her words. “This is quite the capital t capital c Tough Choice, isn’t it?”
“Not for me.” Guardian Girl applied a domino mask to her face and then opened the car door and rolled away. The men blocking the road immediately opened fire. She flipped out of her roll and kicked one of the men in the face. As he fell to the ground she twisted around and put her arm between her and the remaining attackers. She tapped her watch and a glowing shield activated moments before the bullets speeding in her direction reached her. The bullets ricocheted off of the energy shield instead of ripping through her body and before she could come up with a plan to take out the remaining men, Defendant Defender had tackled them from behind.
“Tough choice to get involved?”
“Once you step into the line of fire, it’s clearly defense.” Defendant Defender ran back towards the car. “Now hurry. We only have minutes before—”
A loud boom echoes across the sky.
Guardian Girl stopped to look around “What was that?”
“We must not be distracted. We’re on a mission. To the peak!”
“You said clear skies.”
Gargoyle watched snow starting to fall all around him.
“The weather reports are showing all clear. Should be no clouds or anything nearby.”
“Snow.” Gargoyle held out his palm and let the snow collect.
“Well that won’t change the plan. It can’t snow enough to cause any real problems.”
Gargoyle dumped the snow that filled up his palm. He turned around and saw the snow doing something unusual. It was falling but not from a cloud. It was in a stream of snow coming from the other side of the mountain. It was floating up to above the peak and then falling down as snow normally does. Gargoyle took a moment to think of how he could relay this information over the comms when a poof of smoke appeared before him.
“Ah, it looks like you made it in time,” said the green half-man before him.
“Wait, no, who are you?”
“Nice to meet you, are you here on behalf of the Defendant Defender?”
Gargoyle shook his head.
“Gargoyle, who are you talking to?” Asked Sammi over the comms.
“Genie?” He asked the man before him. The genie nodded. “A genie.”
“Oh. Okay. Well. I don’t think this ruins my plan yet? We still have no visual on Spartox so we’re just waiting for that. Okay?”
“You make snow?” Gargoyle asked the genie.
“Well, on accident. You see I had intended to move some paperwork out here to inconvenience Defendant Defender, but . . . Well there were complication on the way and all of the paperwork has been frozen and is now more snow than anything remotely paper-like.”
Legal Genie looked at his wrist and a watch appeared on it and he tapped it. “But it looks they won’t even make it before the time is up, so we’ll just say I did this after and I won’t be in breach of contract.” The genie winked at Gargoyle.
“Okay.” Gargoyle opened his mouth to ask another question, but the sounds of gunfire interrupted him. He turned around. “Go now?” He asked over the comms.
“No. We still have no visual on Spartox.”
“Gunfire down mountain.”
Gargoyle heard nothing for a moment. “No change in plan,” she finally said.
“No, but it’s the decision I’m making. Just hope it isn’t the wrong one.”
Gargoyle turned and looked at the building amount of snow on the peak. “A lot of snow.”
“Well,” said the Legal Genie, “It was quite the mountain of paperwork. Figuratively and now literally.” The Genie chuckled and Gargoyle stared at him. “I guess it isn’t literally a mountain, but it is topping a mountain. Wordplay you know?”
“You must not like jokes.”
“I love jokes.” Gargoyle continued to stare at the genie. “Funny jokes.”
The genie smiled and made a pointing gesture between the two. “I like you. We’ll have to do a team-up sometime.” The genie winked at Gargoyle.
Gargoyle opened his mouth to respond but was once again interrupted by a loud sound. Though this one was much closer than the gunfire. A large figure streaked through the sky close to the peak of the mountain with such speed that it created a sonic boom. This boom resonated through the sky and down the mountain. Birds fled the trees and everything shook. The newly settled paperwork acting as a new coat of snow for the peak trembled. The snow was settled no more. The stack and stacks of frozen paper bits scattered from the peak and down all the sides.
Gargoyle turned around and put on his skis. “Going now.”
“Wait no, we still have—”
“Avalanche,” replied the gargoyle. His skis sank slightly in the snow, but he was able to push off ahead of the snow tumbling behind him. Gargoyle dodged trees in his descent. They wouldn’t damage him, but they could damage the skis or slow him down enough to let the snow catch up. He sped down and kept his goal clear above all else: the capture of Spartox. He just hoped Spartox wasn’t elsewhere.