"No!" the two women screamed, rushing over to help.
Merlin coughed up blood while trying to regain his breath, something impossible to do while the plasma ate away at his lungs. He tried to morph, but the pain shredded his concentration.
Looking around wildly for water, he instead spotted plasma immunity and instinctively reached for it, pulling it into himself. Merlin would have sighed in relief as the flames died out, his skin taking on a greenish cast, but he was still in an incredible amount of pain and unable to take a breath.
"You'll be OK, we'll get help!" the redhead swore, fumbling out a communicator.
Merlin stopped trying to breathe for a moment and just stared at her. It was completely hopeless but she was trying to keep his hopes up anyway. It was admirable in a way.
Fortunately, shock began to set in, numbing his senses and allowing him enough clarity of thought to morph into another shape.
"What's that?" the blue skinned scientist asked, his panic fading as Merlin changed forms.
"A green unicorn with wings and a purple mane," the blond-haired boy said, looking confused.
"I- I didn't kill him?" the formerly green skinned young woman asked tearfully.
"No, but it was a close thing," Merlin replied, whinnying in surprise that he could talk in this form.
"What just happened?" the redhead asked.
"I apparently walked into the line of fire, no pun intended, got blasted, stole her powers," he gestured towards the other fighter with his horn, "to keep from dying, and then shape shifted to heal myself."
"So... you're not a young boy?" the blue skinned scientist asked.
Merlin morphed back into his normal form, albeit one with green skin now. "This is my natural form, minus the green skin. My name is Merlin."
"Ron," the blond-haired boy said with a wave, taking the weirdness in stride.
"Kim Possible," the red head introduced herself. "Can we get you some pants?"
The other young woman swept him up in her arms, crying and squeezing him. "I didn't kill you, you're alive!"
"Doctor Drakken," the scientist introduced himself. "Shego, please put the naked pre-teen down now."
"Or wait until I'm older so I can enjoy it more," Merlin added. Seeing the shocked looks on their faces, he shook his head. "I can make myself look older if it'll help."
"You're going to need that sense of humor with my powers," Shego said, setting him back on the floor and trying to pretend she hadn't been crying just moments before.
Merlin examined the power set he'd stolen from her. It allowed the creation of cosmic green plasma while making the owner immune with the added bonus of reinforcing nearly everything by a decent amount. The only downside he saw was that it turned the user's skin color green and didn't have an off switch, though it could be dialed down.
"If I ask how you turned into a unicorn, are you going to answer, 'Magic'?" Ron asked.
"Advanced alien technology," Merlin replied absently as he examined the strange power intently, wishing he had a duplicate he could play with so he didn't have to risk the original. "Though I do a lot of other things with magic." The sudden appearance of a duplicate set of powers along with a large amount of his empowerment energy vanishing came as a bit of a surprise and he smacked himself in the forehead as he realized what he'd done.
"Whoa, what was that for?" Shego asked, grabbing his hand.
"Just realizing that despite reminding myself not to make assumptions, I was still making assumptions," Merlin explained. "Do you want your powers back?" He increased the ability to control the flow of power and tried to add a color option. It looked like only the basic color set was available, but at least there were some options now.
"She's a villain," Kim spoke up. "Sorry, Shego."
Shego chuckled. "It's true, I am," she said with a shrug, completely unrepentant.
"And yet, you were horrified at the fact that you might have killed me," Merlin pointed out.
"Just because she's a villain doesn't mean she's a monster or heartless," Ron spoke up, defending the villain.
"I wasn't trying to say she was," Kim quickly defended, "I was just saying if she had her powers back, she'd use them to commit crimes."
"Very true," Shego agreed cheerfully.
Merlin reached up and tapped her nose while returning her powers, green flowing across her skin once more. "If we were all the same, life would be boring," he told her.
"Can I offer you a hoodie?" Ron asked, pulling a spare one out of his backpack. "I mean, I get the whole nudist thing, but Drakken's bases aren't clothing optional normally."
"Except for you," Shego teased while playing with her plasma, finding it a lot easier to control than normal and greatly relieved to have it back, much to her surprise.
"Not on purpose and I always keep my boxers on," Ron quickly replied.
Merlin accepted the hoodie and put it on. Claiming to be a nudist was just a quick excuse to avoid a long explanation anyway. He underlined the mental note to question all decisions made while under the influence of a Hellmouth.
"Why is your skin still green?" Drakken asked curiously.
"It'd be a bit too easy to defeat you without your powers," Kim teased Shego.
"You have no idea how much I limit myself in our little spars," Shego replied with a smirk.
Merlin tapped Kim on the nose, green flaring over her skin as it drained from his own. "There, you are on equal footing now."
"That's kinda cruel," Shego said, shaking her head. "You should take them back. I'm used to being looked at as a freak. She's not."
"I added on off switch and a tint control," Merlin explained with a smile.
Shego's skin turned pale again and she examined her hands with a smile. "How?"
"Advanced alien technology?" Ron guessed.
"Magic," Merlin replied, while taking a more careful look at the girls. The two women were quickly engrossed in examining how much control they had over the plasma, trying to outdo one another in shape creation. They didn't appear to have any other enhancements beyond the cosmic green plasma.
Turning to examine the two men, he was surprised to see one had some form of primal mystical enhancement while the other had an intelligence boost, but both their powers were color coded blue and interfered in their social skills, albeit in different ways.
"What is your story?" Ron asked eagerly, as they followed Drakken back to the control panel.
"And would you mind putting on some more clothes please?" Drakken added. "I get that nudity is your thing, but it's making me a bit uncomfortable, plus it's against OSHA regulations."
"Sure," Merlin agreed. "Got a catalog of clothing?"
"The latest issue of ESQ, Evil Scientist Quarterly, has a nice selection of the latest trends," Drakken offered, pulling a copy of the magazine out of the inside of his dark blue lab-coat, "but I was hoping to see you fully dressed before the overnight package service arrived."
"Are you going to magic up pants or make illusionary ones?" Ron asked excitedly.
"Magic up," Merlin replied, accepting the magazine and opening it up. He loved the way jaws dropped when he reached into pictures and pulled things out, even if he pretended not to notice.
"Good choice," Drakken said as Merlin pulled out the complete JR evil scientist suit which consisted of a high quality white tuxedo with a black lab-coat and mirrored safety goggles.
"It would have looked better with the colors reversed," Ron disagreed, neither one looking the least bit surprised or impressed.
Merlin found himself pouting as the two argued over fashion as he dressed. As the two descended into name calling, Merlin decided it was their reduced social skills that were at fault. Fortunately, that was easily fixed by a simple mental enhancement, targeting their ability to empathize and understand others reasons and motivations.
The two immediately stopped fighting, suddenly embarrassed by their own actions, while Merlin used the last of his energy to give Drakken a fitness package and the both of them tint control. Unlike Shego and Kim, their powers didn't have any limitations in that regard, which he found ironic since women could actually see more colors than men.
"If anyone knows about being clumsy, it's me," Drakken said. "Casting aspersions on another for a fault I share is the height of hypocrisy."
"Much like my comments on your plans being idiotic," Ron pointed out with a grin.
Merlin smirked and decided to leave, his ability to empower others was exhausted for the moment, insuring it would continue to grow stronger... He paused and considered that fact. Was it possible he was gaining more uses for it as it grew in strength? It would explain some things.
"My good deeds are done for the day. Later," Merlin said, turning to leave and vanishing between one step and the next.
"What a strange little boy," Drakken said, "and yes I realize the irony of me saying that."
"What the?!" Kim exclaimed as her skin turned blue and the green plasma she'd been manipulating vanished.
"What did you do?" Shego asked, concerned.
"Well, Merlin said he added tint control as well as an on off switch so I thought I'd try for blue, but I can't seem to create any flames now," Kim explained.
"And you look like my brother Hego," Shego teased.
Kim opened her mouth to reply and paused. Turning, she grabbed a metal handrail and easily ripped it from the wall. "Tint control," Kim said with a grin.
Shego held up one of her hands and grinned as the green changed to blue. "Game on," she told Kim, while making a fist.
"We're doomed," Drakken said in horror as the two superstrong women squared off.
"They'll bring the mountain down around us," Ron said, "unless..."
Drakken and Ron looked at each other and then down at the self destruct button.
*SELF DESTRUCT IN 30 SECONDS!* the alarm blared.
"Next time!" the two blue skinned women swore before running to grab their partners and escape the exploding fortress.
It felt good to help people out, Merlin decided smugly. He'd helped some people and discovered a new use for one of his abilities, and a hole in his defenses, because apparently plasma completely ignored any resistance to fire he had.
He wrinkled his nose at the stench of the warehouse around him. He'd focused on a purely scientific world that didn't allow for any 'super science' shenanigans as he'd stepped between worlds. Since Harry Potter was simple science and hidden magic, he'd be one step closer to his goal and he could take a break and recheck all his assumptions so far.
"I have all of eternity, why do I spend so much time rushing around?" Merlin asked himself.
He felt a barely perceptible tug at the core of his being.
"Oh yeah, giant monster coming from the sea to step on me," he said with a sigh. "And Harry Potter style magic has a greater rate of fire and versatility than any other type I'm aware of."
"Definitely quicker than what I..." he trailed off. Merlin had learned the magic traditions of the Logrus and the Pattern, but John was the one who knew of Harry Potter. He'd forgotten he was John Flint!
"I've been John Flint for a lot less time than I remember being Merlin of Amber," he noted. "I'm using all of Merlin's skills for John's goals because Merlin... despite centuries of knowledge and training, is more mentally restricted than John."
He took a couple of deep breaths, ignoring the smell, and centering himself. "I can accept the identity of Merlin, but I have to think like John, which I've pretty much already been doing, so this was just a waste of time," Merlin said with a chuckle.
"It's nice being crazy enough that your own insanity doesn't bother you," Merlin said cheerfully, "or to quote the Tick, 'Sanity is a one trick pony, all you get is one trick, rational thought. But when you're good and crazy, chum, the sky's the limit!'"
"Hey Loony," someone called out from behind him, "gimme all your money!"
Merlin turned and saw a young man who couldn't have been more than nineteen, dressed in a stained gray hoodie and faded blue Levis with the knees torn out. Reaching into his lab-coat, he shifted shadow and grabbed a bundle of five hundred dollar bills and tossed it to him.
The teen caught it and just stared in shock.
"It's fifty thousand dollars," Merlin said helpfully.
"B-but what do I do with it?" the teen asked, looking completely overwhelmed.
"What were you planning to do with the money you got from me?" Merlin asked curiously.
"Get something to eat, maybe grab a motel room for a night if there was enough," the teen answered nervously.
"OK, now if you'd gotten five hundred from me, what would you have done?" Merlin said gently.
"Get Julie and hop a bus to somewhere where I could get a job and she didn't have to..." his voice trailed off.
"Buy a cheap car that will get you away from here," Merlin suggested. "Just grab her and go, don't let anyone know, don't take anything you can replace. Drive west and find a college town. A young couple with money won't even raise an eyebrow. Hit the local community college for some classes and check the job postings."
"I-I could do that," he said with a slowly growing smile.
Merlin reached into his jacket and pulled out a wad of smaller bills. "Hide that stack until you get there, use this and don't flash it around."
He accepted it looking a bit uncomfortable. "Thank you for... letting me mug you?" he offered.
"Don't mention it," Merlin replied. "Get you and your girl some place you can actually make it and we'll call it good, OK?"
"Yeah," he said, hiding the cash on his person and pocketing the knife. "We can make it!" He turned and vanished into the dark.
Not wanting to be interrupted again, Merlin subtly shifted his form into what he thought of as his Lon Chaney impression, a very light mix of wolf and man. The smell of the place was even worse to his sensitive nose, but between his heightened sense of smell and hearing, it was easy enough to search the place and ensure it was empty.
Most of the place was filled with rotting trash that had been dumped in there over the years. A rather common sight in the slums, the fire escape outside was the only way to reach the second floor and it looked like it was hanging on by a single bolt.
Stepping back inside, Merlin took a deep breath and focused on the Logrus, the symbol of chaos. The shadows rose and he pulled the interior of the warehouse into them. Concentrating on what he wanted the place to change into, caused his surroundings to warp and shift.
Releasing the breath he'd taken, Merlin relaxed, the shadows drawing away to reveal the interior of a pizza place and arcade center he'd enjoyed as a child, or at least a nearby version drawn from the shadows.
He grinned at the animatronics singing their hokey song on stage. He was in the mood for some pizza and mindless video games to relax with.
"Join us, be our friend! Or just be stuck in defend!" the animatronics sang out as Merlin wandered around, looking for pizza.
Typing by: Abyssal Angel