It was a peaceful day in Hellenic City. But it was a fragile peace and one that was destined to be soon broken by the lurking forces of evil.
"I want my mummy."
Screams filled the busy streets as an explosion rocked the central bank and a gang of masked gunmen rushed out, intent on fleeing with their ill gotten gains, confident in their ability to evade the clutches of the law. But wait! Fate does not look kindly upon these felons, for Hellenic City has defenders above and beyond the police.
The robbers skidded to a stop as their getaway was blocked by three figures, the foremost of whom radiated power and nobility, standing resplendent in a golden body suit with blue gauntlets and a bulging codpiece.
"Oh no!" Gasped the leader of the fleeing felons. "It's Ultraman!"
"And his sidekicks, Short Man and Stick Girl." Added another of the criminals.
"Yes 'tis I, your friendly neighbourhood Ultram.." He broke off as Short Man stood on a box and whispered in his ear.
"We're still paying out for that last lawsuit," Short Man reminded him.
"Mmm.. Okay, I guess," Ultraman said, looking somewhat disgruntled, then turned back to the robbers who had been amusing themselves during this exchange by playing scissors-paper-stone. "Ahem," he said, getting their attention, "Anyway, yes I'm Ultraman and we are here to see that your lawless ways do not go unpunished."
"Punish this, do-gooder!" Snarled the leader firing a shot at the superhero, which Ultraman casually swatted out of the air as he and his sidekicks charged into the fray.
Unbeknownst to them, however, their every move was being observed by a shadowy figure who, accompanied by a single lackey who was carrying refreshments, watched them from a nearby rooftop.
"Those fools have played straight into my hands," she hissed. "Let them lose themselves in their petty little battles, they shall be all the more unprepared when they face the deadliest threat of their puny lives!"
"Lex Luthor?" Asked the lackey, just before he was obliterated by a burst of green energy from the figure's outstretched hand.
"No, you cretin," she told the small pile of ashes. "Soon they, and, indeed, the whole world, shall tremble before the might of the Conqueror!"
Short Man and Stick Girl were mopping up the last of the bank robbers while Ultraman struck heroic poses for the benefit of a small crowd of reporters.
"You know, we really need to get better names Short Man," Stick Girl commented as she downed her opponent with her weapon of choice. "Something a little snappier."
"I dunno," said her comrade, pushing his curly blond hair away from his small domino mask. "When you think what we could have been called... We could be having children throw rocks at us in the street like Robin does. At least our names our fairly descriptive, you've got your stick.."
"And I'm, erm, 'altitudinally challenged'. So at any rate it could be a lot worse. Imagine going through life being called 'Bucky' or something."
Stick Girl sighed and shook her head. Somehow she had expected more from the superhero business. It should have been ideal for her, she was brave and inherently decent and had the kind of insane optimism that leads someone to stand up to a fleet of invading aliens and actually believe they can win. But, she found, being the second of two sidekicks tended to leave her out of the loop somewhat and she always felt some distance between herself and her two partners. Their costumes were a case in point. Short Man's outfit was pretty much the same as Ultraman's, only in purple and with a slightly smaller codpiece. Anyone could tell that they were a team. She, on the other hand, had been presented with a skimpy green number which Ultraman assured her was specially designed to protect all of her essential areas. Looking at herself Stick Girl couldn't help feeling that in that case not much of her was essential, although at least she got to show off her abs.
These musing were brought to an abrupt halt when, without warning, black-clad figures came pouring out of the nearby buildings, surrounding the three heroes.
"Holy shit-on-a-stick Ultraman!" Cried Short Man, pointing upwards. His companions followed the gesture and saw a tall, beautiful woman dressed in shimmering black robes descending towards street level on a glowing green disk, leafing through a large copy of 'the Penguin Book of Clichéd Comments for Supervillains'.
"Surrender heroes," she spat with added sarcasm, "Or prepare to meet your doom!"
The three heroes shuddered at the sheer corniness of the ultimatum, but held their ground. Stick Girl and Short Man watched the surrounding lackeys while Ultraman locked gazes with the Conqueror, codpiece twitching defiantly.
"Do your worst!" He cried, meeting his enemy on her own ground. She flinched at his banality and, with a feral snarl, ordered her men to attack.
Ultraman set himself, ready to bear the brunt of the assault. "Come and get us," he said, oblivious to Short Man mouthing 'us?' behind his back . "It's Clobberin' Ti... What? Oh come on, surely no one's... Oh, all right." With a disgusted sigh he turned away from his faithful assistants just in time to be tackled by half a dozen professional henchmen. Short Man and Stick Girl found themselves in the thick of the melee, stretched to the limit by the effort it took to hold their own. With an enraged bellow Ultraman surged to his feet, his assailants flying off in all directions, then with unerring aim he hurled a nearby taxi at his nemesis, who still hovered above the battle. With a negligent gesture the supervillainess blasted the missile apart, then directed a fresh wave of lackeys to engage the hero while she remained aloof, awaiting her opportunity.
Stick Girl waded through the battle, doing her best to keep her enemies at bay with swings of her staff, trying to keep close to her partners, but soon found herself isolated as another rush of lackeys covered Ultraman and Short Man ducked through several sets of legs and plunged into the heart of the melee. Looking at the sea of masked faces surrounding her Stick Girl briefly wished that she had taken the media degree rather than the 'YOU can be a costumed vigilante in just seven lessons!' correspondence course. Then she heard a crazed cackle as the Conqueror swooped in and hit her with an energy bolt (this one a rather pleasant pastel shade, being weaker than her normal bolts which were usually lime or neon), then everything went black. By which I mean she passed out. The energy bolts were still green
Stick Girl regained consciousness to find herself chained to a wall in the Conqueror's secret lair and, with instincts cultivated through long training, she quickly launched into her pre-prepared speech for these occasions.
"You may have captured me villain, but you can't hope to beat Ultraman, the greatest hero of our time. The man who dismantled the Felching family crime cartel along with six and a half city blocks, who faced without flinching the terrifying proportions of Doctor Mammary, who overcame the incredible destructive potential of the acid-spitting otters from space and beat the living shit out of Phil Collins! No matter where you hide he will find you and bring you to justice!"
The Conqueror lifted her gaze from her copy of 'The Collected Works of Jane Austen' and gave the sidekick a bored look. "Uh-huh," she said. "And what will you be doing in the meantime?"
Stick Girl fidgeted (insofar as she was capable) under her captor's scrutiny and a little of the fight drained out of her. "Er.. right now I'm kinda hoping it doesn't involve torture," she admitted.
The supervillainess wandered over to her. She had changed out of her robes and was now wearing a battered pair of jeans and a polo shirt. Stick Girl's artistic sensibilities were mildly offended by the fact. Ultraman never took off his costume where there was any chance of someone seeing him and she was irked at being captured by someone with lower standards, but, she supposed, that's villainy for you. She noticed that the Conqueror was still staring at her and tried to hang a little straighter.
"Well," the Conqueror mused, "Not torture per se, but I suppose some of the surgical procedures might sting just a tad."
"Surgical procedures?" Gasped Stick Girl, a woman who could face the hordes of darkness undaunted, but who tended to faint at the sight of a syringe.
"Yep!" The Conqueror chirped and, feeling a sudden urge to show off, whipped back a curtain to reveal a sophisticated and very dangerous looking android. Stick Girl could see the weapons fitted into its body, ready to extend at any moment and rain bloody havoc on anyone unfortunate enough to be in a position to have bloody havoc rained upon them.
"Impressive isn't it." The Conqueror said proudly. "Of course its not done yet, I still have to put it in your skin, but once I do it should be a superb tool in my campaign of world domination."
"Skin?" Stick Girl whimpered.
"Well of course. I can't have it wandering around like that, people would spot it a mile away. It doesn't matter that its lasers have a four mile effective range, I'm a perfectionist! And once it looks like you I can use it to annihilate the one true threat to my plans!"
"It sure as hell ain't Buffy."
"Holy blistered cocks Ultraman," Short Man gasped as he dragged himself into the Ultrabase. The fighting had been particularly vicious after the Conqueror had departed with her captive and the other sidekick was definitely feeling the effects. "How are we gonna find Stick Girl?"
"Fear not!" Ultraman proclaimed. "The Ultrascanners will analyse every inch of the city in a matter of minutes. As you know there is a micro transmitter concealed in each of our costumes for just such an eventuality. And once we know where she is we can free our comrade and bring down the Conqueror by mid-afternoon at the latest!"
Stick Girl watched sadly as the last wisps of material burnt to nothing.
"You didn't have to do that!" She protested.
"Try to be logical. How am I meant to remove your skin with your costume in the way? Besides, I hate that colour."
"But all of your energy bolts are green!"
"Not by choice! It's all the result of a freak accident involving freemasons, a burning torch, a vat of chemicals and a bad case of crabs (not my own). I didn't have a say in any of it! I used to want to teach kindergarten, but try getting a good job when all of your latent psychoses have been awakened by the trauma of a painful transfiguration and you tend to obliterate people when they piss you off!"
"Wow, when you put it that way it does sound kinda rough."
"You don't know half of it!" The Conqueror exclaimed, encouraged by the unexpected sympathy. "Once you've wiped out an entire police department because one of them gave you a parking ticket, unfairly I might add, then a life of professional villainy is really the only career left open to you."
"Oh, that's so sad," Stick Girl commiserated, "I've often said that the government should make more effort to support the unexpectedly superhuman but what do they do? Nothing, not so much as a helpline!"
It had been a long time since anyone had shown this much concern for the Conqueror's well being. In fact the last time had been when she was five and she had grazed her knee. Now, faced with genuine compassion for the first time since leaving the school nurse's office, she felt a bubble of warmth growing beneath the layers of homicidal mania. Its growth was assisted by the entirely different warmth she experienced as she looked at Stick Girl's unclad form, the sight of which was causing sensations that she had only experienced previously when devising plans of world domination.
"I think the most irritating thing is having to use this damn silly alias. When I started villaining on a large scale I tried to use my real name and nobody would take me seriously, even when I killed a lot of them. It's the same with the costume. Apparently to be a proper supervillain you have to look like either a swim suit model or an explosion in a parachute factory."
"I noticed you chose the latter."
The Conqueror shrugged. "Spandex gives me a rash," she explained.
"Well, I've gotta say, you do good things to that robe," Stick Girl assured her.
"Really. It's got.." She searched for the right word, "grandeur the way you wear it."
Another shrug. "Best I could come up with at short notice. I had to assassinate the head of the UN security council by that Tuesday and I couldn't just show up in my jeans."
"Yeah, the UN's kind of a suits-only affair."
The Conqueror paced about for a while, hemming and hawing to herself, then turned back to her captive. "If I unchain you are you going to run away?" She asked suspiciously.
"You mean you don't want to pull off my skin anymore?" Stick Girl said hopefully.
"I still might." The Conqueror insisted. "I just thought we could, you know, talk a bit more easily if you weren't hanging up there." She trailed off, looking a little embarrassed.
Stick Girl smiled brightly. "Sure! That'd be great." She sighed in relief as the manacles released her at the touch of a button and plopped down next to the Conqueror on a comfy sofa. "So, what is your real name?" She asked.
"Heather," the Conqueror told her shyly. "What's yours?"
"Uhmm.. Bethany, but to be honest I prefer Stick Girl to that, and I'm not even particularly fond of Stick Girl."
"Well, I guess it's not the most flamboyant of aliases."
"Screw flamboyant, I'd just like it if every low-grade thug we fought didn't feel the need to say 'Want some of my stick, girl?' Even some of the big name villains like the Mind-Melter or Mister Fister get an uncontrollable urge to make pornographic comments," the sidekick told her indignantly.
"Unpleasant," Heather agreed, "Although I bet your costume provoked more than a few of them."
"Hey! That costume was especially designed to protect my essential areas."
The Conqueror gave said areas a long look. "Yeah," she said, "It'd be a crying shame if those got damaged."
The superhero sighed wearily. "I know that Short Man, but I'm sure it'll only be a few minutes longer."
"You said that half an hour ago."
"C'mon, it's bound to work eventually, we just need to be patient. And when it does it'll lead us right to Stick Girl."
"What if she isn't wearing her costume? This whole thing could be a dead end. My God! What if she's being tortured right now while we're stuck here watching the computers?"
"Don't be ridiculous Short Man. I've told Stick Girl over and over how important it is for a hero to look the part. What could possibly make her remove her costume?"
"I've often wondered," Short Man said dreamily. He was torn away from his pleasant daydreams by a harsh buzzing sound.
"The Ultralarm!" Cried Ultraman. "There's trouble downtown. Sorry old friend, looks like the search for Stick Girl will have to wait."
"Yeah, like we were rushed off our feet looking. What's the problem?"
"Well according to the reports..." His face paled abruptly. "My God!"
"What is it?"
"Doctor Mammary has returned!"
"Cool... Er.. I mean oh no! How can we hope to defeat someone so... large. And impressive. And squeezably soft. And.."
"Short Man! You know very well that, on the right chest, those are awesomely destructive weapons. Hellenic City might not survive an extended battle. Nevertheless, we must go where we are needed! Here we come to save the..."
"Mighty Mouse says that one."
Ultraman stamped his foot petulantly, putting a large dent in the solid steel floor. "And do you know what I say to Mighty Mouse?!"
Stick Girl was attempting to persuade the Conqueror that there were alternatives to professional villainy that she could explore. The Conqueror, meanwhile, had entirely forgotten her android, having decided that Stick Girl's skin had definite possibilities left where it was. She had been planning to deliver a speech at the annual supervillains convention entitled 'Conquering the World: an Idiot's Guide', but right now she was more interested in a piece she called 'Hands up who got laid last night. Only me? Losers!' Evil comes in many shapes. For now she was struggling to keep her fantasies at bay well enough to follow the thread of the conversation.
"Nah, cats are all right but it's the things like chinchillas or guinea pigs. Nasty, crawly little buggers. They make my skin crawl. Besides, all it would take would be some senile old dear asking if her poor Tiddles would be okay a time too often and I'd put the damn thing down on general principle. The cat I'd send to a shelter or something."
"Politics, maybe? You know, the power-lust and all that?"
"Too much conflict involved, and you know how I tend to resolve conflict these days."
"You could be a writer! Then you could just sit in front of a computer, not get enough sun, suffer from malnutrition and never deal with annoying people. Your obliteration count would go right down."
"That's a really good idea."
"Unfortunately I can't write for shit."
"Oh... well you could always write fanfiction... no, wait, there's no money in that. Erm... Oh! Got it!"
"You could be a superhero!"
"Think about it. Supervillains are more durable than normal people so you could feel free to unleash your more violent urges on them."
"Yeah but superheroes are pretty durable too. They're also smug, which makes 'em even more fun to beat up."
"You'd have the respect of all the people you saved."
"I always find that respect is a poor substitute for naked terror."
"You know what your problem is?" Stick Girl said in exasperation. "You need to care about people other than yourself."
"Well since 'caring'," she made the inverted commas gesture with her fingers, "seems to be a must for heroes we can drop this line of discussion and move to another topic. I'm inherently sociopathic and damn proud of it."
"You could start small. Have you ever considered keeping a pet?"
"I used to have a torture pit full of snakes, scorpions and black widows."
"Erm.. Did you put much effort into caring for them?"
"No, they all killed each other. Didn't even notice until I first threw someone in there. Talk about disappointing."
"You said you didn't mind cats! Maybe you could get a kitten."
"Actually," the Conqueror began, trying her best leer (which wasn't actually very good, her facial muscles being unaccustomed to anything except an enraged snarl, but what can you expect from someone who, to date, had only experienced ecstasy in the form of a body count). "I wouldn't mind getting a little p..."
"Great!" An excited Stick Girl cut her off. "I think my next-door neighbour's cat gave birth last week. Maybe I could get you one." She grinned happily, working out the logistical requirements of cat care. Let's see, food, two bowls, milk or water (aren't most cats lactose intolerant? Have to check that one), basket...
"Look, I'm not sure I could really deal with a pet," The Conqueror said, sidling closer. "But, you know, I have heard stories of criminals, villains and other morally deficient types being turned around by the love of a good woman." She trailed her finger tips along Stick Girl's bare arm in what she hoped was a seductive manner. "Now I was thinking that if you're really interested in redeeming me that a physical expression of love, involving nipping, sucking, fondling, maybe with a little light bondage and... excuse me, are you listening?"
...scratching post, little ball with a bell inside... Stick Girl's wandering mind snapped back into place. "Sorry," she said. "Do you have anything to use as a litter tray?"
"No!" The Conqueror wailed in frustration. "I don't have a litter tray! I don't need a litter tray and I hope to God I never even see a litter tray as long as I live! I'm not asking for much you know, just unlimited wealth, the nations of the earth kneeling before me and some experience of sensual pleasures beyond the feel of an enemy's bowed neck beneath my booted heel. And believe me, right now two of those are optional!"
"Wow, you want wealth that much?"
"No I... AAARRGGHH!" She shrieked, burying her head in her hands. "I'm doomed to a permanent inability to control my darker impulses. Never to know peace. Never to be invited to the best parties. Never to know the joys of friendship, of trust or of sharing a post-coital smoke (although in my case it'd probably be because I set fire to the sheets)." Then she appalled her captive by bursting into tears.
"Oh! Don't cry!" Stick Girl said, the protective instincts that made her a good hero coming to the fore. "Please, if there's anything I can do to help I promise I'll do it but..." She found herself face to face with a suddenly grinning Conqueror.
"Anything?" She purred.
Doctor Mammary had previously been an exotic dancer named Stella 'Piglet' McLynch, although she would never explain how she got her nickname. Desperate to give her career a boost she had been unable to afford the breast implants she so desperately desired. Overwhelmed by bitterness she had turned to crime, stealing funds and educating herself in the twin arts of plastic surgery and weapon design until, as Doctor Mammary, she had set out to kill the overpriced surgeons who had cost her her chosen career. After her first attempts had been foiled by Ultraman she had added him and his sidekicks to her list and had now returned to tick them off. In all senses of the term.
"Surrender criminal!" Ultraman shouted, launching himself at his foe. Doctor Mammary laughed at his assault and, with a mental command, inflated her right breast to titanic proportions, causing the hero to ricochet into the side of a building. Attempting a sneak attack Short Man ducked under several cars and came out behind their enemy. But the Doctor heard him coming and, whirling to face him, trapped him between her bosoms. Feeling himself sinking into the pliable tissue the sidekick struggled frantically for air, until a flex of artificial muscles catapulted him the length of the street.
"You fiend!" Ultraman cried, struggling to his feet, "Your evil shall be punished. So swears Ultraman!"
"Not today hero," the Doctor told him, "or should I say victim! " As she spoke she unleashed the latest addition to her armament-packed attributes. Ultraman was bombarded with a spray of thick, sticky liquid which clung to his costume and rapidly hardened into a solid shell. The hero struggled but the cocoon held him fast. The villain moved towards him, intent on murder.
In the Conqueror's lair an alarm went off. After some moments an arm feebly extended itself from a tangle of limbs and sheets and blasted the clock to smithereens.
"Fuck off.. 'm exhausted," the Conqueror mumbled drifting back towards sleep, then bolted upright as a different alarm kicked in. "Right!" She said, struggling out of bed, "If I have to obliterate the entire goddamn base to get some rest then that's what I'm gonna do."
"Whuzzat?" Stick Girl questioned, almost managing to raise her head from the pillow.
"That's the computer I have scanning the news channels," she was told. "Don't worry, I'll just blow it up and we can get some sleep. Or more sex. Whatever. Shame we can't really combine the two really. I just take it as more evidence that God's a bastard."
"Look, why don't you just turn the alarm off? Or better yet, see why it's ringing then turn it off."
"Oh yeah! Sorry, destructive impulses got the better of me." She wandered out of the room and after a few moments the alarm shut off. The Conqueror drifted back and slumped onto the bed.
"What was the alarm for."
"Oh, just Ultraman and Shorty getting the crap kicked out of them. Nothing important."
Stick Girl leapt to her feet. "NOTHING IMPORTANT?" She shrieked. "How can you say that? Those are my friends, we have to help them."
"Help them? The very suggestion's obscene! I know I promised to be good but really, that's pushing it well past the bloody limits!"
"Ooohhh I don't believe this!" Stick Girl spat as she stormed around the room looking for something to wear. "I don't believe I actually thought you were going to change! Now I find out that you were just taking advantage of my youth and naïveté and gymnastic ability. I must have been crazy to actually have sex with you!"
The Conqueror had mostly ignored this speech but she caught the last part and was chilled to the bone. "Whoa there!" She said, "The way you're talking anyone'd think you didn't want to do it again. Now obviously we both know that that's impossible but..." She cut off as an enraged sidekick got right in her face.
"I. Will. Never. Have. Sex. With. You. Again." She hissed.
"Since I can't actually turn back time I'm going to go and help my friends and then I'm going to try and forget I ever demeaned myself with you, and if you could arrange that I will never be reminded of your existence I would be very grateful!"
"Wait! I obviously misheard you the first time. You said we had to help your friends but I, somehow, thought you said we had to rip their bastard do-gooder lips off with a pair of pliers. And naturally I didn't want to do that since, like I told you, I'm going to be a good guy from now on and not brutally torture people, even if they are sanctimonious, self-righteous pains in the ass. Instead I'm going to spend the rest of my days protecting the weak and helpless, and the rest of my nights, well, hopefully..." she gave Stick Girl a plaintive look.
The sidekick sighed ruefully. "To be honest I would have missed the sex myself. Come on, we need to hurry. And I really need to find some clothes."
Ultraman watched as Doctor Mammary stalked towards him, insanity evident in the crazed glare of her eyes, the flecks of froth on her lips and her truly uncoordinated wardrobe. Khaki with neon pink polka dots. In itself it was sufficient to make grown heroes quail. With a colossal effort Ultraman shattered the cocoon that imprisoned him.
"Ultraman smash!" He roared angrily, preparing to unleash his full might against the villain. Suddenly he was brutally hit by a lawsuit from Marvel Comics and was sent sprawling. Doctor Mammary stood over the fallen hero, holding her breasts aloft, ready to bring them down and crush the hero once and for all when a commanding voice sounded over the impromptu battlefield.
"Tremble Villain, before the might of Heather!"
Doctor Mammary turned to face the new arrivals looking somewhat bemused and not remotely intimidated. "Tremble.. Heather... Nope, they just don't fit in the same sentence. Sorry."
"See? I told you!" The Conqueror said to her companion, who was wearing one of her spare robes with a hole cut in it like a poncho and was praying like mad that the wind didn't pick up.
"But you aren't trying to conquer the world anymore. Calling yourself the Conqueror wouldn't make sense." Stick Girl argued.
"That's not the point! Do you have any idea how long it took to come up with something even half-decent? I went through dozens of aliases, stupid things like 'the Annihilator' or 'the Destroyer of Nations.'"
"Well actually that last one had a nice ring to it. I think you could have carried it off."
"Too long winded. Besides, once you've actually destroyed a nation you can't have any more fun with it. Far better to have it intact but reduced to grovelling servitude."
"I never knew being a supervillain took so much thought!" Stick Girl marvelled.
"Of course it takes thought," Heather said, looking rather hurt. "It's the villains that always have to have a plan. The heroes just show up on the day and try to beat us up, the lazy bastards."
"Excuse me!" They both turned to see Doctor Mammary tapping her foot impatiently. "There is an etiquette involved in these situations," she said sarcastically. "Butting in on other peoples' slugfests is the height of bad manners, or didn't you know?"
The Conqueror had, as has been mentioned, a particularly violent temper and many and varied were the things that could send her flying into a savage rage including, but not limited to, being ignored by barmen, Christmas trees that shed needles all over the carpet, country and western music and people who chewed their fingernails. But above all else she was driven into a towering fury by the thought of anyone questioning her sense of decorum.
She slowly turned to face Doctor Mammary, her face and posture radiating menace. She held her hands up in front of her, casually batting balls of sickly-coloured energy back and forth. "Didn't I know?" She repeated, meeting her adversary's suddenly worried gaze. "Do you want me to tell you what I do know?" Doctor Mammary didn't answer, seemingly mesmerised by the play of the Conqueror's energy bolts. The Conqueror smiled. Nastily. "I know the boiling point of silicone," she told her.
There was a flash of green light and a sizzling sound, followed by two loud pops.
"Are you sure you won't reconsider?" Ultraman asked, his hand resting on Stick Girl's shoulder as he looked at her with fond pride.
"Thanks for asking boss, but no. Heather's new to heroing and she's going to need someone to show her the ropes. Besides, you still have Short Man for backup, you'll hardly notice I'm gone."
"Don't sell yourself short," the older hero told her. "I'll definitely notice." Leaning closer he whispered conspiratorially. "For one thing Short Man really can't carry off that little green costume of yours."
Stick Girl's mind swiftly shoved that image into the depths of her subconscious and she smiled up at her mentor. "Look on the bright side Ultraman, with me and Heather around the two of you can take some time off. Relax a little."
"That's a good idea!" Short Man said, wandering over. "We haven't had a vacation since that trip to the Bahamas five years ago. Remember? The sun, the sand..."
"The five star hotel..." Ultraman continued dreamily.
"The honeymoon suite.." Short Man saw Stick Girl and Heather looking at him. "It had the best bar in the hotel, OK?" He said defensively.
"Well Ultraman, it's been interesting meeting you," the former Conqueror said, as Stick Girl and Short Man said their goodbyes, "but we really have to go. Stick Girl has a special Superhero's training schedule set up that she wants us to spend the rest of the day working at."
"Good conditioning is important," Ultraman said approvingly.
"Yeah, she says stamina and flexibility are the two qualities she wants me to work on. Are you ready Stick Girl?"
"Ready," said the sidekick.
They said a last few farewells, then Ultraman and Short Man watched Hellenic City's newest hero walk with her sidekick into the distance.
"Actually," the sidekick was saying, "I'm thinking of changing my own alias. Stick Girl just doesn't feel appropriate anymore."
"Well we're gonna have to think of something quickly. Heather and Bethany really isn't going to cut it."
"We need something nice and heroic for you. How about 'the Liberator'?"
"Who would I liberate? Slavery isn't that big a deal anymore. Although I could see myself liberating you from your underwear."
"You burnt my underwear, remember?"
"Great! Saves time. Come on!"
If you can read this you don't need glasses.