As the bright lights and sparkles from Legion’s teleport power faded, the pungent smell of rotting garbage and filth overwhelmed Willow. The air vibrated with the sound of hundreds of emergency vehicle sirens fast approaching.
“Dave,” Willow said hoping the microphone could filter her voice from the sirens, “I’m in a city but I’m not sure which one or what universe.”
“Willow?” Dave responded over the earpiece. “Thank goodness. I’ve been trying to reach you for hours. Is Legion still with you?”
Willow looked around but she was alone. Her ride had vanished. “It’s only been a few seconds to me since I teleported with Legion. And now he’s gone and I have no idea where I am.”
“We’ve been searching everywhere for you with a new gadget that arrived while you were missing. Nico from Cape High sent an omnilocator that he modified to teleport the other devices to us if we can pinpoint them. He said none of the universes are safe with Omni and his goons jumping through them.”
The sound of screeching brakes startled Willow as a large brown truck appeared at the edge of the alley, the driver-side door wide open. A man wearing a brown shirt, brown shorts, and a brown hat stepped out.
“Hold on a second, I have company,” Willow said facing the newcomer.
“Excuse me, miss?” said the man in brown raising his eyebrows..
Willow cocked her head. “Yes?”
“Would your name by chance be Willow?” the man asked.
“Maybe. Who’s wants to know?” Willow answered as she instinctively moved into a fighting stance. This narrow alley would be a perfect place for Legion to ambush her.
The man in brown stepped back with his hands up and holding a package. “Listen lady, I don’t need any problems from you. Go play badass for the tourists on Sunset Boulevard but I have a job to do. I was told to bring this package for a Willow at this address at this exact time. So here it is.”
The man placed the box on the ground before jumping back in his truck.
“And the Jury cosplayer in front of the Chinese theater is way hotter than you,” he said stepping on the gas and speeding away.
Willow rolled her eyes at the driver’s jab but smiled in triumph. She was near Hollywood but where and in what universe? She picked up the package and tore it open only to find a folded letter inside. It was from Omni.
“Dave, listen to this…”
My Dearest Willow,
I have to congratulate you on using Legion of One’s teleportation power to find me. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed but he has his uses. I will deal with his transgressions personally.
On my first visit, I could not believe the paranoia that existed here about the so-called superheroes – the police called them vigilantes, the government feared them, and the human cattle wanted them all dead. The time for heroes has faded here and I basked in the pain and suffering. They don’t know it yet but the grand finale is about to arrive.
After I found the man who gets things done here, he built the tranversal omnilocator so I could leave this universe. Then it struck me that there are countless universes to exploit and I would build an army to rule them all.
Herr Metall controls the tranversal omnilocators here. If you are not on his guest list, you get dropped in Los Angeles where you are reading this now. It’s really rather clever. A shame he is too dangerous to be a part of my new empire.
Enjoy the short time you have here. And don’t bother trying to use your powers, this is a closed universe.
Your biggest fan,
P.S. I’m safely far away now. Let’s just say, I don’t like today’s weather forecast.
A closed universe? She shuddered even thinking about it, which up until today was only a theory – powers and abilities from open universes would not work in a closed universe and the powers from a closed universe would not work in an open universe. How was she supposed to get home without an omnilocator?
“Dave, did you catch all that?” she asked masking the fear rising up inside.
“I did and I’m sorry about your powers, Willow. We’re already tossing around some ideas on how to get you out of there. And I’m looking up this Herr Metall character.”
“You don’t know his story?” Willow asked with a hint of concern.
“Do you know how many superhero stories I have waiting on my computer? It’s a wonder I have a personal life at all with all the reading I have to do for this job.” Willow remained silent. She had the powers and got the glory but there were a lot of people who worked very hard to make sure she went home safely each night. “Here it is. He’s some kind of Nazi-type douche from The Enhanced Series.”
“Ugh, I haven’t read that yet and I’ve never jumped to a world blind like this.” Willow looked at the package address. “Add Los Angeles to the search and find out where I am in the story. Omni doesn’t make idle threats.”
She could hear Dave’s keyboard through the earpiece. “Searching now. Just hang loose and we’ll get you out of there.”
Several people passed the alley entrance and caught Willow’s eye. As she walked closer to the street leading to the alley, she noticed large crowds surrounding news vans and a large black truck emblazoned with LAPD SWAT on the side.
“Something is happening. There are police and civilians running around everywhere,” Willow reported as she crossed the street.
“Willow, don’t do anything until we know what is going on,” Dave warned like a good mother hen.
“Welcome to MacArthur Park,” shouted a dark-skinned man wearing an Uncle Sam costume on top of a bench, his pepper-colored goatee matching the hair color sticking out from underneath the brim of the hat.
“Come over here, Miss Purple,” Uncle Sam said waving at Willow, “you look ready to fight evil and walk the red carpet in that hot little outfit.”
Willow could not help but laugh. The people here had a much different attitude towards superheroes than back home. “Thanks, I think,” she replied. “What’s going on? Why are the police here?”
Uncle Sam pointed all around but Willow only noticed the sound of sirens growing louder. “You hear all that, Miss Purple? That’s the sound of our salvation. The L.A.P.D. are keeping one of the Enhanced corralled until big green himself, Atomic Power, arrives. Then, you are going to see one seriously good ass kicking.”
Willow followed Uncle Sam’s pointing to an area a few blocks down the street. Although the police had cordoned off the street at the park, there were bodies lining the road and sidewalk for several blocks.
“What about those people?” Willow asked. “Who’s helping them?”
Uncle Sam smiled like a father to his innocent child. “You see down that road is a real mean cat named Steel Spike and that boy is pure evil. No one can get near there without him throwing something at them. And it’s usually something very heavy. We simple mundanes are no match for him.”
Willow looked up when a sonic boom rattled the windows and set of car alarms around the park. Uncle Sam jumped up like a kid at the candy store.
“And there he is, ladies and gentlemen,” shouted Uncle Sam. “I told you Atomic Power was coming. I told you.”
Although she was not sure what to expect, Willow visually followed Atomic Power as he approached the city, his green colored armor glowing and shrouded in yellow and green flames with a trail of energy behind him stretching for hundreds of feet. He quickly descended and hovered outside of what looked like a bank building several blocks down the main road.
She could barely hear Atomic Power as he demanded Steel Spike surrender. Within moments, dust obscured the battle as the titans hurled each other into various buildings. Everyone stopped when the air suddenly turned a bright shade of green. From the smell and sound of it, Atomic Power unloaded on Steel Spike with an energy blast.
“Light his ass up, big A. Fry that ugly mo-fo!” Uncle Sam and the crowd cheered like their pro football team just scored the winning touchdown. Willow felt disgusted watching it.
“Dave, there are a lot of injured people here and I don’t see any capes around to assist. The police can’t get close enough to do anything with the two supers beating the hell out of each other and destroying everything.”
“Stay where you are, Willow. You are not a super in that universe. Let the locals handle it.”
Willow shook her head. “It’s my job. Anywhere. Anytime.” She looked down the block where Atomic Power and Steel Spike were still fighting when she heard the distinct crack of a bullet from a high-powered rifle echoing between the buildings. Are they serious? “I think a police sniper just took a shot at Steel Spike.”
“That’s a ballsy move to shoot at a super. Usually, it just pisses them off.”
She looked around as the crowd at MacArthur park started to celebrate with high-fives. This was just like a party to them. “I don’t think this is an uncommon event in this universe.”
“It’s Los Angeles, Willow. That place is different no matter what universe you are in.”
Someone shouted, followed by a chorus of horrified gasps and screams that broke up the laughter and celebrating. The SWAT officers at the mobile base appeared at the vehicle doors and hatches and stared down the street.
Willow tried to peek over the heads of the crowd but she could not see anything but a green strobe light. Several onlookers bumped into her as they tried to escape the crowd. Within moments, the park descended into chaos.
“Something’s wrong,” she reported to Dave while dodging Uncle Sam as he retreated. “The crowd is starting to panic and there’s a bright green light pulsing down the street. Dave, what happens in the story?”
“Pulsing green light? Oh my God. Stand as still as possible!” Dave shouted with more authority than Willow had ever heard from him.
“I may not have powers in this universe but I’m still one of the good guys. I need to help,” Willow said over the rising noise from the crowd.
“Nico said hold very still for this to have any chance of working,” Dave snapped back.
“What’s going to happen? Dave?” Only static answered.