The last stop on the list was Centropolis’ clothes-making factory, but the only way they could utilize it would be when the workers were gone, and the car’s clock stated “8:21 PM”.
“Okay, there’s one last step to making your super-costume, and I need to tell you: the way we’re going to do it isn’t totally legal,” Lora sighed.
“What do you mean, mommy? Are we gonna do a bad thing?” Mindy felt a little nervous.
“Well, the people in this factory we’re going to are about to leave and lock the doors, but we need to use their equipment to build your costume.”
“What if we just wait until tomorrow? We could use the stuff during business hours.”
Mom shook her head, “Even then, I really don’t think they’d let us near their equipment. I mean, this factory distributes clothes to several states and I assume every machine in the place is used. So if we go in and just use one or two while the workers are away, it won’t be a problem. Besides, the sooner we make your costume, the sooner you’ll get those powers you like so much! And who knows, there might even be some criminals to catch on the way home!”
“All right, but I still feel weird about that.”
“Don’t worry, Mindy, after this I’ll never break into places ever again...that is, unless they’re enemy bases.”
Lora parked her car discreetly next to the factory and watched carefully to see the silhouettes of the place’s workers enter their own cars and drive off.
All of a sudden it dawned on Lora that if she and her daughter ‘broke and entered’ the factory now, it would make her accidental felony of busting out a professional criminal even worse. This prompted her to change her mind and tell the girl, “Actually, Mindy, you’re right. Let’s do this in the morning.”
Nodding, the two of them decided to simply sleep in the car. Lora put up a barely used anti-sun shield in front of the windshield so people wouldn’t see them from the front.
When they woke up the next morning, it was 11:13 AM. She glimpsed while removing the shield that the workers were returning to the factory. Wanting to carry out her last step so badly, Lora – still as her civilian self – jumped out of the car and asked for a worker’s attention, “Excuse me, wait!”
The man was just about to enter a door in the side of the building, and appeared quite startled. “Aah! What do you want, woman? I need to get to work!”
“I’m sorry; it’s just that I want to do something here. Um...I want to design a new piece of clothing but it’s so complex that I’d need to use some of your machines to make it. Is that all right? I’ll only need half an hour tops,” Lora explained herself.
“No can do, ma’am, only authorized workers are allowed to operate the factory machines. The last thing we need is some inexperienced noobie messing up a single part of our work, now go away!” The man grunted as he turned around again to enter the door.
Well, so much for the nice approach, she sighed in her head.
Lora returned to the car and spoke to Mindy. “Well, apparently the employees won’t let us in, let alone allow us to use their equipment. So what now?”
Mindy looked around a bit, then suggested, “We could sneak in and use it ourselves, as long as nobody sees us.”
“That’s actually what I wanted to do last night, but I was afraid to because of that legal problem I told you about. Bluntly, my reputation as a hero is bad right now, and breaking in would make it worse. What do you think, Mindy?”
“Well, we have a good reason to do this, right?”
“Yeah, you’re right. We’re not hurting anybody, just making a costume like the others here,” Lora looked back at the parking lot and noticed that no one was around, “The coast is clear, so let’s go, Mindy,” Lora whispered to her daughter.
Quietly, with the sun nearing high noon, Ms. Jett first opened the trunk of her car and stuffed the ingredients for her child’s costume into a garbage bag next to them. Then she handed the bag to Mindy for her to carry, and the two of them snuck around the side of the factory and searched in the sunlight for that same door the mean worker left through. They found it, and Lora smiled when she found that it was unlocked. However, the area beyond it was an antechamber for a set of automated double doors locked with a security keypad. How would they get in without setting off the alarm?
“Oh great, we need a code to keep this place’s security from knowing we’re here. How could we get in?” Mom groaned.
“You don’t need a code, just open the door from the other side,” Mindy evaluated in a fairly smart way.
Lora laughed at her own complaining, then asked how she could get around the door. Mindy looked up and pointed to an air vent in the ceiling just wide enough for Lora’s body, while still carrying the bag, and chirped, “There’s an air vent up there in the ceiling, you could get in through there.”
She looked at the vent and laughed, “Good eyes, Mindy! I forgot about how many times PC games use air vents! Once I’m out of the duct, I’ll find a button or switch to open the door on the other side to let you in.”
Then Lora morphed again into Trinity, her entire body gleaming in the dim light from outside through the windows. But as she stretched up to ooze into the vent, Mindy requested, “Hey, can I taste a little more of you? Just one more piece?”
Mom rolled her eyes – invisible beneath the white one-way lenses of her domino mask – and pulled a grape-sized piece of her gummy second skin off of her left knee. Mindy snatched the chunk out of her hand and immediately began chewing it. “No more, okay? That’s just embarrassing, and if civilian boys find out they’ll rip me apart and turn my head into a soccer ball!” Her mom warned.
“Okay, okay, I won’t do that anymore, mom!” Mindy assured her.
Lora’s gum/elastic figure oozed like shampoo through the screwed-on grate and slithered as a reddish-pink blob down the duct. It wasn’t far until another down-facing grate, where she dripped out slowly to a tiled linoleum floor at first, then stretched directly out of the vent to reform into her full body. Then she simply pushed a button on this side to open the door. Once Mindy and her mom were both inside, the former looked around for a map of the building. Thankfully, there was one framed behind glass on a wall very close to the door, but they didn’t quite know where to go yet. Meanwhile, as the two of them hid behind a large pile of steel boxes, Trinity stretched her head around to see the various mechanisms which assembled clothes for people to wear in Centropolis and beyond. However, as far as she could tell, the only material coming out of those machines was cotton and nylon. She needed something to make a rubber costume from, but where would that be?
Lora turned around and asked her daughter a favor, “Mindy, can you look at the map and find where any place having to do with making ‘Rubber’ clothing is?”
“Sure, Mom!” the girl carried out that favor immediately.
Tracing along walkways and rooms on the map, seeing that the building was divided up into several different wings serving specific purposes, the one where rubber clothing was manufactured happened to be in the upper right corner, on the 2nd floor.
So as they followed a hidden route to first find an elevator, Lora knew that the last ingredient to the recipe had to be in the area where the suit would be created. When they reached the elevator, they happened to be close to the nearest edge of that wing, and quite far from the parking lot. To both Lora and Mindy’s surprise, however, the door to the rubber clothes production wing was sealed with a notice: “This department has been temporarily closed due to need for new equipment. We apologize for any inconveniences.”
As much as either of their subconciousnesses wanted the girls to go on their way and look elsewhere, the sign saying “latex/rubber clothes production” meant that this was the place to be. Lora – still in Trinity’s form – simply bypassed the door by turning into a pink, gum-like substance and oozed around the seams in the locked automated door. On the other side, she found an emergency handle to pull it open, seeing as that the button to open this door would not function. Mindy took the liberty of turning on the lights and closing the door behind them, and what they saw made Lora smile and rub her hands together: In front of them was a huge but rather dated-looking pressing device. It had the imprint of a human body in both halves, a nearby table at one wall with old shaping tools, inner molds, and other paraphernalia; and a 6-foot-high steel liquid tank connected to a hose in the bottom that fed into the mold’s lower half. Also to the left of the mold was a crate reading “Latex cubes: 20 lbs. total; 1 lb. each.”
“Awesome, everything we need is right here, and no one’s around to bother us!” Lora’s excitement felt on the verge of giggling, and asked her daughter, “Do you feel as excited as I am?
“You bet, I can’t wait to wear that costume and be super-stretchy like you!” Mindy shared Lora’s eagerness well.
To start, Lora yanked out the recipe again and arranged all the ingredients on a long table nearby. Mindy helped by taking a single 1-pound cube of pure latex out of the open crate and placing it on the table.
One of the hardest steps was to open the case of gum and unwrap each stick one by one, however, Lora partially solved that problem by growing several more arms so that she could do this as quickly as possible. To the extent of her strength, Lora had managed to unwrap only about 20 sticks of gum out of 192, almost like the corporation in Willy Wonka that unshelled nuts.
Then she took some measurements and learned that the single pound of latex was about right for someone Mindy’s size, and that only about 16 sticks of gum were necessary – but she stuck to the unwrapped 20. How much bubble gum did Ms. Prisma use on my suit? Lora pondered. With these measurements carried out, she placed the latex cube and many DoubleMint gum sticks into a smaller, pot-sized metal bucket and carried out a little science experiment by placing that filled bucket on top of an old hot-plate cranked up to “Medium High”. With the heat up there after a few minutes of waiting, the latex melted cleanly but the gum took longer. She stirred it around with a long wooden stick like batter or soup and watched over a period of minutes as the mixture took on a minty green tinge from the gum. Stirring some more proved that it was ready, but then came the bit to add the special chemicals.
Each bottle of chemicals had the exact dosage in them so that they only needed to be used once – except for the neutralizing agent, for half of that was to be used on Lora herself. Spraying the tiny dose of Incarnacium into the latex-gum mixture caused it to rapidly bubble for a few seconds even though it was not on the hot-plate this time. Adding the Morphus Elasticae caused it to spontaneously move side to side by itself for just three seconds, then stop. It confirmed that with this particular compound added, once this substance was made into a costume, the superpowers in it would now work for Mindy’s will. Without the Morphus Elasticae, according to Lois Prisma, the costume would be nothing more than just a costume. If the Incarnacium was meant to bring things to life in large quantities but Lora was given a small dose, what would it do?
She put that thought on hold while applying the next compound: The biological neutralizing agent, designed so that the wearer’s hormones – all of them – would be unaffected. Reading the label that the compound could be applied only to the skin and not ingested, Lora unscrewed the cap, first poured the required dosage meant for Mindy into the mixture, then used the same measuring cup to hold another dose and scoop some into her hands by morphing the right hand into a spoon. Realizing how vicious it was, almost like lotion, she simply rubbed the whole dose all over her skin – she morphed her own costume off so that the skin was exposed, but not TOO exposed – and hoped it worked.
Putting her suit back on, Lora noticed that the costume mixture was ready, and stirred it again just to ensure that the chemicals would blend in purely, like drink mix. Lora turned to look at her daughter and cheered, “All right, the stuff to make your costume is ready, now we just need to give it the right shape in that hydraulic mold over there!”
“Can I help, mommy?”
“I don’t know, that’s a big, old machine.”
“I could pour the stuff you mixed up into that vat next to it,” Mindy pointed to the white steel bucket.
“All right, but you’ll need something to stand on, and because I don’t see any chairs or stepladders around here, I’ll be in charge of that,” Mom pointed out as she handed Mindy the rather heavy pot. They moved closer to the large bucket, Lora morphed her legs into a platform for Mindy to stand on like she said, then stretched her whole body upwards so that she could dump the suit mixture in there. They both watched as it flowed out of one vat into another, freely like barely-mixed cake batter but goopy like syrup. It pooled at the bottom of the vat and seemed eager to drain out the tube which was open for the mold.
They both moved closer to the costume molding machine and Lora noticed just how customizable the platen was. With some dividers, they could separate one item into pieces, and use ceiling-mounted robotic lasers – this mold was a blank template which could be replaced by several others – to etch patterns onto. It seemed that the handheld cutting tools would not be necessary after all – they looked older than the machine itself.
Over near the head of the mold was an old console dated from 2006, but seemed to be fully functional. On-screen was what looked like a painting program with the figure outline in place and a toggle for “male” or “female”. Lora used the console’s touchpad to hit “female” first.
Then she asked her kid, “So how would you like your costume to be? You can make any designs you want with this machine!”
“Really? How do I do that?”
Mom glanced at a white pad in front of the screen and a stylus next to it, “This pad and that little pen thing can draw on the screen as if you were drawing on paper. Then when you’re ready, the overhead lasers will carve that into the mold for you, as far as this stuff seems to say.”
Mindy thought for a bit, then moved over to pick up the stylus and drew out the kind of heroic patterns that would fit a DoubleMint-based stretchy girl; she even remembered to include a domino mask. When she finished, it was a remarkably well-done image. Apparently, the computer aided in straightening out Mindy’s fairly scribbled lines and correcting her moves to make it actually look like outlines. Next, she was allowed to pick colors – the fluid mixture was now black from the latex – and Mindy carefully used a paint bucket tool in different shades of green: Dark green for the boots and mask, 2 shades of yellow green for the torso in a symmetrical double-arrow pattern similar to Alan’s, and mint green for the gloves.
Finally, when Mindy was satisfied with her artwork, she reached over to push a button on the trackpad and select “Create outlines” on-screen. Then she and her mom watched as the robot-mounted cutting lasers “drew” on the mold with their beams, copying Mindy’s aided work into the mold.
Now Lora slid over to a second control panel with buttons and switches which controlled the mold itself. One button read “Activate heating platen”, a pin-switch saying “Material flow control” and other mundane functions lining almost every inch of the panel. Lora began by flipping the flow control switch which opened a valve that would let the compound mixture into the mold. Then she pushed a small blue button that would feed dye into the mixture, as set to green by the other console. Then when the mold’s lower half was almost completely full, she pulled a large lever to lower the top platen onto the bottom one, locking in place. A small red button activated its “heating element”.
Then all of a sudden an automated voice came over the intercom, “Please wait fifteen minutes for product shaping process to complete. Do not lift upper platen while process is active.”
Wow, for technology from the last decade, this stuff’s really easy to use! Ms. Jett thought about how she and Mindy were able to use the room’s old devices.
Now they simply waited for that amount of time to pass by. Lora felt anxious that someone might come by and see all this happening, but since this area was out of order, she somehow felt safe.
Then the same voice beeped when the 15 minutes were up, “Product solidification complete. You may now release upper heating platen.”
Lora jumped over to the 2nd control panel and pushed up the switch which controlled the top platen. As it slowly lifted on aged, creaking hydraulics, she and her daughter stared at the now complete costume. Every detail that Mindy had programmed into the device was there, and nothing seemed out of place or strange. When Mindy approached the lower platen to pick up the costume, she noticed how pleasantly warm and smooth it was. She smelled it deeply and picked up a heavy scent of sugary mint from the large amount of gum mixed into the material.
Lora notified her daughter, “Hey, just a heads-up: If you want your powers to work, you’ll have to take your clothes off first, but that doesn’t include underwear.”
“Really?” Mindy looked at the outfit again.
“Yeah, I don’t know why, but it takes that De-bonding gel I brought to remove a costume that’s skin-tight. Which is why elastic powers can get around it...somehow I can’t describe. And you’d mess up your clothes otherwise,” Lora explained in a slightly awkward manner.
“Well, if you say so, Mom,” her daughter looked at the costume again.
“That bathroom over there makes a good dressing room,” mom pointed to a nearby door marked “Restroom”.
Mindy lightly walked into that room, shut the door and removed her new shirt and pants under the thankfully working light. When only her underwear was left, she turned to the minty green latex costume draped over her shoulder. As she held it, Mindy noticed how it was divided into two parts: The leggings and boots were in one piece, and the shirt + gloves in the other. Cautiously, Mindy started with the bottom and hung the upper part on a hook in the one cubicle. Stepping into it like swim trunks, it was a bit difficult to pull up due to the material’s great stretchiness and how her foot was standing on the part that needed to be pulled up. But within 2 minutes, she got the leggings up. Before moving to the other half, she noticed how the piece she wore felt as if merged with her own skin, as she could barely feel the material from inside, and it didn’t feel as tight as she thought.
Then it was time for the shirt and gloves. This was a bit easier as it was just like putting on a T-shirt, although her face was hard to get off the rubber from inside. Once it was on and her hands slid into the gloves, a strange change occurred inside Mindy: She felt like her whole being was transformed into gum on the inside. But unlike Lora’s costume, there were two extra properties to this one due to the type of gum used in it. First: Mindy noticed how there was a constant minty scent around her and that her body felt a little colder than before. Was this the power to control cold? Second: Because the gum’s brand was called “DoubleMint”, this also somehow gave her the ability to split into clones. With enough concentration and some wide steps, Mindy could clone herself as many times as she wanted, though only for a few hours. Unbeknownst to Lora, this is what the Incarnacium mixed with gum created.
Mindy then left the restroom holding her old clothes and approached her mom, “Wow, mom! I feel like this suit’s...transformed me somehow!”
“I agree, and tomorrow I’ll train you to fight crime like me. I don’t think anyone’s out tonight.”
But just as she placed the costume’s domino mask on Mindy’s face, Lora suddenly ate her words when, impossibly, somebody opened the door from the outside. It was another factory worker, this one having a beard and thick glasses, “Whoever you are, you’re not supposed to be here!” He yelled while preparing to pick up a two-way radio, but Lora stretched her arms towards the man, coiled them around his body, and brought him closer to her.
“Now now, I only came here to make a new costume for my daughter, and we’re just now leaving. Can’t you cut us some slack this once?” Lora spoke to him in a rather sexually alluring way. With some recently applied lipstick made wet + fresh by her powers, she kissed the worker on the cheek and warned, “I won’t be this way if you call the cops. Do you want that?”
“Okay, ma’am. I promise I won’t tell anybody,” the man stammered.
“That’s better, now you can go,” Lora grinned at him as she released her snake-like grip.
As Mindy was leaving the room with her mom, she made one last stop in the hallway at a wheeled coat rack full of winter clothes. She grabbed a red fleece scarf from the end and wrapped it around her neck, knowing that it would make her feel a little less chilly, and make her appearance much cuter as well.
Lora and her newly superpowered daughter returned to the blue Camaro the mom owned, and now Lora had a new destination in mind before school began the next day.
“Wow, mommy. Is that what you said earlier?”
“‘Men can’t get enough of me’? Yeah, as you saw, one of my powers is very overpowering to men. I’m just glad that it worked, though.”
“Where are we going now?” Mindy inquired.
“Well, first we’re going out for breakfast because it’s quicker, then we’re going to the park...to train you.”
“Really? As in...train me to use my superpowers right?”
“Yep; and when you’re trained, then we can really be superheroes by tomorrow! Um, after school though. Don’t forget that,” Mom informed the minty girl.
Lora veered left to pull into a Wendy’s™ and grab two biscuit-egg + bacon sandwiches with a milk for Lora and OJ for her daughter, all via drive-thru. They made quick business of consuming their small breakfast on the road, and now the mom had turned her car to the route leading to the city’s largest park.
Soon, after several lefts and rights through Centropolis’ streets, the car pulled into “Dan F. Anderson Memorial Park”. This huge park was actually divided into two halves split by the road where the parking lot was: One side was designed as a soccer field, the other as a recreational/playground park. Lora had chosen the soccer field, as that side was empty compared to the currently packed other side at about 10 AM.
The two elastic women moved towards the center of the field, Mindy backed up a few feet towards a goal facing the parking lot, then her mom started off like a coach, checking that she was in the form of Trinity and not her normal self, “Okay, Mindy. Let’s start simple: try stretching either arm out as far as you can.”
Mindy flexed her arm out as far as a human’s would allow, then imagined it to be longer and that it could move like rubber, and sure enough, it extended even farther for a certain length before she felt weak and it dropped to the ground, forcing her to reel it back in like a fishing rod.
Mom, being good at math and physics, judged that first move after having examined how far the arm stretched, “9 feet, not bad for a first-timer. Now for something a little trickier: See if you can stretch your legs while spinning in a circle.”
Trying to imagine the result in her head, the minty-clothed girl reached towards the sky, centered the body’s pulling force only on her legs, and just like that, her legs started stretching while leaving the feet still planted. She could hear how they made a funny-sounding squeak as that happened. Then, remembering how many times she liked to spin around the living room when living with her old parents, and watch how the area seemed to spin; Mindy twisted her upper body counterclockwise while still stretching her legs slowly. She watched as how the further she elongated herself, the more twisted her lower body became. Eventually, she was about 10 feet high now, a cute girl’s body on top of a giant green shiny coil spring.
Then Lora called out, “Okay Mindy, you can stop. Try melting your body back into its normal self!”
“Melting? How do I do that?” Her daughter called out from being up so high.
“Just imagine that you’re melting then think of your normal self!”
Mindy felt stupid for asking that question, as imagination had driven her powers so far! But maybe over time, she thought, she wouldn’t have to rely entirely on imagining.
So, following Mom’s instructions, Mindy willed herself to turn her figure into minty green goo, and dropped down to human height with a big “splash” as her lower body spread out like batter. Then she pulled everything together and re-morphed into her original form.
“Good job! Now we can move into the next stage: Shape-shifting in combat, like you just did. To start, try changing your right hand into a mallet. Every rubber hero likes to use that.”
The little girl looked at her right hand as instructed, and this time concentrated on what it would look like as a mallet. As if like silly putty, the hand morphed in a squishy semi-liquid way into the shape she wanted. It felt somewhat heavier, but not too heavy for a hand.
“Good. Now, try hitting me by throwing that mallet at me with your flexible arm,” the coach advised her student.
Mindy first stepped back a few feet, flexed her right arm back like a pitcher ready to throw the ball, then whipped it forward with so much force that the arm stretched some way across the field to Lora’s spot in the middle. However, it missed by a foot and landed in the grass; Round two left her arm flying the opposite direction because Mindy’s arm was thrust the wrong way. But on try 3, it hit right on target and knocked Lora down from a sharp whack to the head. Slightly unsurprising, the side of her face had a huge dent in it from the mallet as if it was made of putty. But in seconds, it vanished and Ms. Jett was back on her feet.
“Nice one, Mindy! You’re really good at this! And if you’re wondering, that didn’t really hurt,” Lora called back in acceptance.
“Thanks, Mom! I really love this elastic body! It’s something I’ve only dreamed of until now!” Mindy agreed. She was so excited that she almost didn’t notice how her legs were suddenly making her stretch very high and with a very curvy shape. She looked down, and giggled, “Oh wow, guess I was thinking too hard there!”
When Mindy returned to her normal shape, she asked, “Hey, I’ve never really thought of a name for my hero self, and there’s a power I somehow knew was there all along and I want to try it!”
Lora scratched her head for a little bit, then thought, “How ‘bout, ‘Double Mindy’? It matches the brand of gum I used in making your suit.”
“That sounds nice.”
“And what IS that new power you have? Go on, show me!” Lora coaxed her daughter to demonstrate this new ability she possessed.
Without a word, Mindy extended her arms and legs out in both directions and pulled them so hard that she seemed to split apart into that same green minty goo, and when the halves reformed, there was now the real Mindy and a clone of herself! Lora could tell which one was who because there happened to be a number “01” in a dark green oval on the clone’s chest while the host’s was blank. Strangely, when Mindy tried to talk, the clone mimicked her. It made sense in a way, however: Any clone would be linked to the host’s mind, but Mindy thought that with some work, each clone could operate independently. That way, she’d have an unlimited army of green stretchy heroines to help in extreme situations.
All of a sudden, a hardly known yet familiar voice spoke up, “Keep it up, you two! That’s AWESOME work you’re doing!”
The two (actually 3) women turned to the left, and who else would be there than Rubber Girl of the Earth Patrol! Here, she appeared to be operating a video camera on a tripod, and had been filming at least some of this training session for some time.
Lora addressed her, “Hey, um...Rubber Girl. When did you get here?”
“A few minutes after you did, actually; By the way, who are those two green girls over there?”
Mindy yanked hard on her clone, “squished” it back into her body, and stated, “I’m Double Mindy.”
“She’s my new daughter!” Ms. Jett added in delight.
“So why are you filming our training?” Mindy asked in a confused way.
“For the Earth Patrol; and I’m betting civilians and other heroes will be on their way here in a few minutes to see all this. Maybe if something big goes wrong outside of the park, it’ll make the situation all the more dramatic.” Rubber girl elaborated.
“Wow, an audience. I guess that’s okay, so long as teenage boys or news crews don’t start ganging up on me. That was really uncalled for last time!” Lora shrugged.
“Don’t worry; my friends will keep a perimeter.”
So Lora Jett and her daughter continued their training in the soccer field.
“All right, now let’s try something more direct: Try boxing me down by turning your hands into boxing gloves and stretching them fast towards me. Got all that?”
“Yup, I see it,” Mindy nodded as she reshaped both hands into minty green boxing gloves just by clenching her fists.
By flexing her arms forward and backward to build up, the little girl thrust her glove-shaped hands sharply forward in a straight line, and despite about 4 misses, 3 punches made their mark. Behind the two of them in the parking lot, a few men clapped and whistled as that happened. Mindy looked behind her – twisting her neck like taffy in the process – and saw that a few cars were now parked nearby and their occupants were standing around to watch, some with their own cameras. However, apparently Fast Girl of the Earth Patrol had set up some kind of police tape to keep them away from the field itself, which was a good thing.
Lora smiled, “Okay, Mindy. Now to change things a little: I try to find you, while you change into something that’ll be hard for me to spot in this grass. That shouldn’t be too hard because your costume is green – and so is your hair, by the looks of it. Your goal is to ambush me before I can find you.”
Mindy glanced at her long dark hair and noticed how it had strangely turned dark green and bore a smooth & shiny glint to it, just like her mom’s! Then the girl remembered her next task, and tried to think of what would be good to turn into as a way to hide from mom. A bucket? A teddy bear? Soccer ball? She pondered. I’d have to be something mom wouldn’t notice easily, but what?
“Mindy, it’s like Hide and Seek. I’m going to turn around, close my eyes and count to 20. Try to morph into something I won’t be able to find easily,” Mom began to sound impatient.
The girl then figured out that because this field was empty, any new object would give herself away. However, there was one feature that was normal to it: The goal posts. While Lora was counting into 10, Mindy turned around and jumped in front of the nearest goal. Looking it over carefully, she decided to merge with the white metal frame of the goal. This time with her eyes open, she jumped in front of the goal and stretched her body wide so that every inch would cover the frame. Within 5 seconds, and just when Lora was about to say “Ready or not, here I come!” Double Mindy was now seamlessly coated onto the goal post. Her eyesight was still intact, and she could see mom on the field walking around, slowly looking side to side for the kid.
Then, giggling in her head, Mindy sprang from her hiding spot, peeling off the goal’s frame like paint and spreading out flat over her mom’s body. The parked observers cheered as she did this.
“Gotcha!” Was all she could say after pulling that trick. She heard her mom laugh for a little bit, then Mindy reformed back into her 4-foot body.
Rubber Girl cheered, “Wow! I haven’t seen anyone do these kinds of tricks in years, as far as I’ve seen in New Lake, anyway.”
Then Mindy wiped her knees and said, “Hey, Mom, are we done yet? I wanna try going on a real mission, with a villain to fight and everything!”
“I’m sure there will be some problem we two could fix up--” Lora’s sentence was slurred down by the distant wail of sirens. Everyone looked to Kenner Street that ran past the road this park paralleled on, and briefly spotted two ambulances and a police car driving fast with their many flashing lights on.
“Anyone know where those ambulances are going?” Lora asked some of the audience members.
Size Girl answered that, “I happen to have police scanner in our car, and a few cops in the police car were saying something about a fire starting in a hospital.”
“Well, that sounds like a good place to start a first mission!” Lora whooped in triumph.
“Won’t we need a car to get to that place?” Mindy whined slightly.
“We still have mine, remember?” Lora pointed to her car.
“Oh yeah, I forgot.”
Lora and her daughter returned to the blue Camaro and this time Alan – who had also showed up via a bus - joined them in the front seat.
“Hey, Uncle Alan, why are you coming with us?” Mindy inquired confusedly.
“Because you aren’t the only ones in the family with superpowers, though I can’t show you yet in the car, okay?”
The little girl just nodded.
Soon enough, Lora’s car managed to catch up with the 2 ambulances and their cop escort on Pegasus Street, heading straight for Centropolis’ “Medical Town Hospital”.
From what she and the passengers could see out the windshield, one of the facility’s “buildings” was on fire. Then as the Camaro followed a small street leading into the complex itself and rounded the corners to get close enough to that spot, she noticed a white ambulance – one of the two seen on the road - with an unfamiliar symbol on it: It had a gold capital “E” with the Red Cross taking up the lower gap. Near it stood a blond-haired man loaded down with rescue equipment and barking into a headset. Lora simply parked the car into the nearest available space and jumped out, followed by her brother and child.
Out there, they could hear what the man was saying over his radio, “Agent Blackwood, what’s the status report?”
A bit fuzzy but still audible through the headphones, a woman’s voice on the other end copied, “14 patients and 12 doctors are safe and have oxygen. They’re coming outside as I speak. Be advised that 1 nurse has a minor fracture from falling down a flight of stairs, and 4 patients are still not fully healed from influenza.”
“I copy, be there in 3 minutes. Fire choppers are inbound; Emergency Man out,” the blonde confirmed with a nod.
“‘Emergency Man’? Isn’t that one of the heroes you and the scientists studied at that lab?” Lora heard that name and reported it to her brother.
“Yes, his real name’s Adam Nightingale and so far his powers, if any, have inconclusive results. Our notes seem to dictate so far that he has latent speed powers because of how quickly he’s known to reach someone in trouble right after getting a call,” Alan confirmed the question.
“You’re right, he does have speed powers. Did you see how fast he ran into that building?” Mindy pointed at Mr. Nightingale.
Lora looked back and saw, just for a split second, how that man was still standing there in the same spot, then in the next he vanished in a dark red streak into a door leading to the burning building – which by now looked very critical. But, as he said, helicopters arrived with hoses and pumps carrying water and gases. After Lora stared at them a bit, she turned to her partners and shook her head, “Whatever these people are doing, it’s not enough from how the fire looks at this point. We need some way to get as many people out of this building as possible, but how?”
Alan cleared his throat, “Before I forget,” he took off his leather jacket and revealed his heroic bodysuit underneath.
Mindy was wowed, “Cool! What powers do you have?”
“Size changing, little girl.”
“He didn’t get that through his costume, unlike us. Instead, he used some kind of chemical that allowed him to control growth from the inside,” Lora added. Then he picked on her question, “The most direct means would be to form some chutes or something in front of the windows, but fire can severely harm you in that state. I guess I could reach in and pull some people out like King Kong, but they’d be scared to death.”
“Yes, but neither of us will be able to do anything without some way to put out the fire...” Lora’s voice trailed off as the mechanisms in her head changed gears. Her eyes shifted towards the new ally, Double Mindy, and right there, she came to a Eureka moment, “Mindy, do you have more than 2 powers? I’m pretty sure that the big amount of mint in your costume would be useful somehow.”
“I don’t know, doesn’t mint clean, not just freeze?” The kid’s eyes lifted in confusion.
“It’s still cold. And maybe that’s why you’re wearing that red scarf there?” Alan supported the idea.
Mindy thought for a few seconds, then voiced her thoughts, “Yes, when I put on this costume, I felt a little cold on the inside, but what good is that?”
Alan leaned close to the girl and softly told her, “Listen, we don’t have much time to think about this. Those people are going to get hurt really bad if we don’t do something quickly. Now, I know how some heroes generate things, so if you just hold out a hand, focus all that cold on it and force it forward, I think that should be able to put out the fire. Try it.”
Mindy closed her eyes, let the minty-fresh chill rise up through her system, then channeled it into her right hand and willed it to gush out in a forward stream. To her surprise, she could see it leave her body in a way similar to breathing out on a cold day. But that was only a short puff, now Mindy needed to figure out how to synthesize as much of this DoubleMint chill as possible to put out the fire in support of the helicopters.
Then a plan formed in her head as if she was drawing on paper back at the children’s home: If Mindy split into a clone squad and snuffed the fire with her ‘mint powers’, then Alan would be able to clear out more people. Lora would form into the aforementioned safety slide and bring them to safety. They wouldn’t be able to do everything, so hopefully Emergency Man and his team had their half of the job under control. She felt wowed at how she came up with this. A mission like this was quite a way to test everything she learned at her training session.
With everything set in her head, Double Mindy voiced her idea to her mom and uncle. They liked the plan, and let her go first. This time, she did something rather ingenious and ran all the way across the parking lot to the other end of the building, then back. But it wasn’t just her body that was moving: At intervals, her body split into clones as Mindy ran for the other end, and the same when running back, made so by friction. When she stopped, there were now exactly 24 clones, with Mindy herself as the leader, making 25. Lora and Alan watched in excitement as the little girl, knowing exactly what she was doing, led her own elastic militia to finish off putting out the fire. Circling the now seriously burning hospital building, the 25 minty green-suited girls stretched up to all the different areas in the building where fire was visible, and each in different ways – some through the hands, others by breathing, etc. – fired cold cleansing blasts of air until the fire was greatly reduced by 80%. The choppers covered the remaining 20%. Then the clones returned to normal height, Mindy stood out in the center, and a mental command influenced those clones to jump into the air, backflip, and land square on the “leader”. This caused her to change into a massive green blob, then re-shift into her normal humanoid form.
Mindy’s parents applauded her performance, and Lora offered her congratulations, “Good job, Mindy! What you just did applied everything from your training to a real situation, which means you are now a full superheroine, not just a sidekick!”
“And now we can help rescue the people trapped inside – and maybe figure out what caused the fire!” Alan nodded as he grew while walking towards the building.
Lora took her position below a row of windows, and morphed into the shape of what seemed rather less like a fire escape and more like an inflatable party slide. Also, Mindy noted how her mom’s shape-shifting forms so far have been the same color as her bodysuit, so now she decided to change that and make it a stylish pattern of light purple and green rubber dotted with tiny yellow shapes, and with only a pink patch on the side where she could stick her head out to look around.
Alan, deciding not to grab people directly and run the risk of killing them in his fists, simply coaxed them to jump out the window onto Lora’s slide construct so they would be able to leave safely. When about 2 dozen patients and doctors made it out, Lora reassumed her human form.
While this was going on, Emergency Man and his team were also hauling out victims of the fire. As those patients and doctors were being escorted to a safe zone, the leader turned to notice the Jetts’ work and smirked, “Well, it’s nice to see some backup, whoever you are.”
The mentioned heroes turned to see him, and promptly stepped closer a few feet. Alan started, “I think you’ve met us before, Mr. Nightingale.”
“How do you know my name?”
Lora answered, “You and several other superpowered people were rallied to help save New Lake City a few days ago.”
“Oh yes, that’s right. But I never caught any names. You are…?”
Alan quickly presented, “I’m Alan Jett, this is my sister Lora, and her new daughter, Mindy.”
“We need to come up with nicknames to protect our identities, like you. Although, I think ‘Emergency Man’ is a little too obvious. My daughter and I have nicknames, but not my bro. Mine’s Trinity – for being both elastic, a woman, and seductive – maybe; the kid’s is Double Mindy – based on DoubleMint gum.”
Alan jumped in, “And as you saw, I can change size. Because the chemical that gave me my powers modified my hormones, I guess the nickname might be ‘Growth Hormone’, but I don’t know.”
“Okay then. I just wanted to say thanks for assisting me. I wasn’t totally confident that my team would be able to rescue everyone in the building on their own,” Adam nodded.
“By the way, just WHAT caused the fire? I’d like to know, sir,” Mindy begged while stretching up to see him eye to eye.
Agent Blackwood, a woman with a red ponytail, heard that question and answered them closely, “It just so happens that someone had sabotaged some of the medical equipment, disabled the sprinkler system, and that caused the fire.”
“What? How on Earth could that have happened?” Lora scratched her head.
“Our teammates found a dead man’s body near a bunch of machines with lots of exposed wires, so I’m thinking the fire was a suicide attempt that went too far.”
“That’s weird. I’d expect someone to take some bad drugs if they want to die in a hospital,” Alan shrugged.
“So what will become of these other patients and doctors?” Lora changed the subject.
“Oh, they’ll be fine. I don’t think they’ll be staying here for a while, though. I must say, this mission’s been kind of an ironic one – why would you start a fire in a place that’s meant to heal you?” Emergency Man gestured to his ambulance.
“Maybe because whoever killed themselves didn’t WANT to be healed,” Agent Blackwood stated the obvious.
Lora cleared her throat, “Well, it was nice meeting you, Mr.--”
“Call me Adam, less formal. And one more thing: Can you guess what my last name is from?”
Alan ran a list of connections in his head, “Yup, you’re the descendant of Florence Nightingale.”
“Interesting, but we really need to go. My kid has school tomorrow and you know what that means,” Lora voiced her concerns while yanking on Alan’s right wrist.
“I don’t have any kids, but I bet it’s as hectic as my job,” Adam guessed. “Well, hope that works out!” He stepped into the ambulance’s cab and started to page another agent on his radio.
As Emergency Man left, the 3 Jett siblings returned to their own car and Lora drove them all back to the part of town she knew.
Then Alan notified his sister as she and Mindy were about to enter the apartment building’s front gate after they parked, “Hey, you know that I’m going to be fighting crime as much as you two do as well, so I think that might have us needing a team name.”
“A team name? Well, all I can think of is something like ‘the Jetts’ and that would give away our identities.”
“‘The Super-Siblings’?” the man threw one up.
“Possibly,” Lora started to jump topics, “I don’t feel like the same heroine I was when Meredith was around, so I’m at a loss.”
“But a kid is better than a sidekick. And besides, as she demonstrated at the hospital, Mindy’s more versatile than that pink dragon!” Alan noted.
Mindy just blushed.
“And why exactly did you want to be a superheroine in the first place?” the same man nudged Lora in the cleavage.
“Excuse me!” For what he just did, Lora threw an elastic slap to her brother’s shoulder. “If you MUST know, it’s because I want to fix the things that go wrong because they bother me for being wrong, like...oh, I don’t know, take back stolen money because it doesn’t belong to the robbers! And Brother, what motivates you to follow in my footsteps? Enlighten me.”
“On the contrary, I’ve been fighting crime longer than you have, Lora. As a matter of fact, I do it for the thrill and also your motive as well.”
Lora reminded her daughter, “Sorry, Mindy. We don’t usually hit each other and YOU shouldn’t hit anyone either, especially at school! Got that?”
“Yeah, mom,” Mindy simply nodded.
“So if we’re a team now, do we need a base? I can’t afford to move out of this place with a kid and send her to school at the same time.”
“Then don’t, we’re not the Fantastic Four or anything. I’ll be the one with the headquarters…or command post, something.”
“Good, I guess we’ll be going now,” Lora slinked closer to the gate and simply oozed through it. As Alan was preparing to mount his motorcycle still parked here, Lora turned back and called, “By tomorrow, we’ll be a complete team of heroes, even if school is a slight hindrance!”
“Be careful, tomorrow is Friday the 13th!” Alan shouted as he prepared to drive off.
Then the elastic woman and her child reentered the 4th-floor apartment itself, she morphed back into an average woman with blond, not red hair, and the last order of business came in the form of a question, “Mom, how do I take—um, turn back to normal?”
“Just think that you’re that way, and it’ll happen. But you’ll actually need to put on some new clothes this time. At least that’s what I do. Didn’t you see how I changed back?”
Mindy indeed recalled that moment from mere seconds ago. She took a fresh set of pajamas that her mom provided, concentrated on what she wanted to be – this time without her eyes closed – and soon enough Mindy’s suit melted away under her skin, allowing her to put on the sleeping-based clothes without complications.
It took no more than 2 minutes to eat a small dinner and perform her nightly hygiene procedure. When Mindy finally settled down on the pull-out bed, she drifted off to sleep peacefully, aware that the past few days had been the most revolutionary point in her life. Not only was she free from a boring, sad life at a building full of unfamiliar girls, but she was now a true superheroine, just like she dreamed of in comics. “Watch out, villains, Double Mindy has arrived!” Lora thought coincidentally.