"Louise shouldn't come next time."
"What?" Louise turned from looking at the "stupid horse posters" in Tina's room to face her sister. "So I let one gun go off, harmlessly. You had dozens of shots going everywhere on your first mission."
"No, it's about the reporters." Tina sat at her desk, petting the tiny green horse projected onto her left palm with her right pinkie. "Talking in public is going to give us away."
Louise turned on her superspeed for a moment. "Does this sound like Louise Belcher?"
"Somebody who knows us is going to catch your word choices, but yes it is about the gunfire. You're not faster than a speeding bullet. I just can't."
"I can't handle losing another sibling. Not after Gene. And if something happens to me I want Mom and Dad to at least have you."
"Now, now." Linda waved her hands. "I'm sure your brother is fine. Your father's just finished dinner. Let's pretend to be a normal family for him."
The next morning after reading "The rest of the announcements" by herself, Courtney Wheeler went off script.
"This isn't funny you guys. You know how bad my heart is. I can't take losing Gene another time, not like this. Keep this up and it will kill me. Then I'll come back and I'll haunt you a..."
Louise stood up from her school desk in the temporarily assigned room for science class and addressed the suddenly silenced speaker. "Jeez, dramatic much? Yes, everybody misses Gene. We're doing everything possible or otherwise to find him. Bother us about it when you've got a lead!"
"Return to your seat Louise."
"Yes, Coach Blevins."
At lunch Millie Frock haggled for more french fries and so by the time she got to the Belcher table the spot across from her target was already taken by Courtney. Millie sat at the next table over and listened in.
"When was the last moment you saw Gene?" Courtney fidgeted with her locket.
"When Mom sent us to our rooms on the night of Tina's abduction." Louise pointed past Ollie at her sister. "I assume that Gene went into his room, but I didn't look back. He was long gone by the time I got out of the hospital." She then turned her head so Andy could feed her an apple slice.
After gym Millie followed Louise into the locker room shower.
"Back off or I'll scream."
"I don't think you will." Millie whispered back to Louise.
"And why not?"
"On the news last night I saw a girl hop onto a horse behind another girl and I thought to myself that I'd seen that move and that butt before. Now after watching you in gym I'm sure."
"What? Why would I be on the news?" Louise held her hands up and shrugged.
Millie took advantage of the uncovered view to let her eyes roam all over Louise's body. "You're eating for three or four but it doesn't show. Running off all those calories?"
"Now I'm going to start screaming about a crazy girl."
"Fine, be that way. I'll get proof and then we'll be spending a lot of time together." Millie took one last look then moved to an empty shower stall.
That afternoon the white golf buggy stopped again in front of the restaurant.
Bob met their landlord at the door "Mr. Fischoeder,did you get any word about Gene."
"No, nothing at all. It's like the lad has vanished from the face of the Earth. But last night I saw something extraordinary on the news. Could you bring your girls out here?"
"Yes, Dad?" "What is it?"
"Please turn around."
"What's up, Mr. Fischoeder?"
"Louise, how would you and your sister like to work at Wonder Wharf this summer? For minimum wage I'm afraid."
"Dad?" Tina asked over her shoulder.
"That's more than I can pay."
"That's the spirit Bob. Now come along girls, for your fittings."
"What's the job, Mr. Fischoeder?"
"Louise, you two are just about perfect to be our new mascots."
Mr. Fischoeder glanced at the two girls in the back seat through his mirror as they drove along. "Tina, how well can you see without those glasses?"
"Very little, Sir."
"We'll take care of that after this stop." He escorted them into a shop. "Ah Pierre, I have a bit of a challenge for you. Can you make these costumes for these two girls?"
"It will be no challenge at all."
"Let me see that." Louise took the piece of paper. "Got a pencil?"
"The lightning patterns on the Scarlet Streak are off and the Green Ranger has a lantern symbol on her chest."
"How do you know so much, Louise?"
"Mr. Fischoeder, you know us kids. We're all big fans of superheroes."
After taking their measurements Pierre talked with Mr. Fischoeder about details such as leaving room for goggles.
Tina whispered to her sister. "Why are you doing this Louise?"
"Simple. If anybody accuses me of being the Scarlet Streak I can say I play the part every day, come down to Wonder Wharf and see us. Disguising as ourselves is the perfect disguise."
Back in the golf buggy Mr. Fischoeder pointed to a street sign two blocks down. "Louise, which street is that?"
"It's Elm street, Mr. Fischoeder, 300 block."
"And you're not wearing contacts?"
"Don't need them."
"Excellent. We'll get you red non-prescription googles when we get the green prescription googles for your sister."
"Because the Scarlet Streak's eyes glow red, just as the Green Ranger's glow green."
"And I thought you kids knew everything about superheroes. Tina, do you know how to ride a horse?"
"I've taken lessons, Sir."
"Very good. We'll pick out a horse later. I wonder if we can get one dyed green. Just for some promotional shots."
That evening Linda found Louise staring at her own reflection in the bathroom mirror with the lights off. "What's the matter, Sweetie?"
"Mom, do my eyes glow red?"
"Yes Louise, whenever you're using your power."
"Why can't I see it?"
"Hmmm. I think it's the time difference. The red stuff is when your muscles are moving at superspeed. You must be reflectively looking all around you, but when you're looking at yourself your eyes are still for that moment. You're fast, but light is faster."
"So I can't use my powers without people noticing?"
"Well you also get burly, from shifting around. You'd need to keep your eyes and body perfectly still. Maybe you could study yoga?"
During first period Thursday morning Ms. Selbo's voice crackled over the intercom. "Louise Belcher and Millie Frock please report to Mr. Frond's office."
Millie ran to catch up to Louise's quick stride down the school corridor. "I guess this is it? They've found out the secret of our love."
"We don't have to keep it a secret."
Louise threw open Mr. Frond's door in Millie's face.
"Come in you two." Mr. Frond waited for Millie to close the door behind her and the two girls to sit down. "Millie, I've heard reports that you've been bothering Louise about her eating disorder?"
"That's not it, Mr. Frond."
"Then what exactly happened?"
"Louise is only eating more because she's training to be a better jogger. I was just worried about her running around town in the evenings by herself. What with all these abductions lately."
"Louise, is that what happened?"
"I'm just worried about my brother. That's all."
"And Millie is bothering you?"
"Yes, Mr. Frond."
"Millie, I'm ordering you to leave Louise alone for the next week. She's still coming to terms with her brother's disappearance and we have a no tolerance policy for bullying."
"Thank you, Mr. Frond."
"And as for you Louise, I think it's best to put your nervous energy to work. Ms. Schroeder is having tryouts to fill a position on the track team so please apply for that."
"I'm sure she'll set several new world records."
"Not one more word Millie. Now both of you return to class."
Ms. Schroeder looked up from her clipboard at the start of gym. "Louise, I have a note here that you're interested in track?"
"Not really. I've got work to do and you know I'm not a good runner."
"We are in a bit of a pinch here. Our star runner is out with a broken leg. If you could fill in this one time it'd at least give the other girls a chance to compete in the big match."
"Okay, Ms. Schroeder, but be prepared to be disappointed."
Louise started running down the track when Ms. Schroeder started the stopwatch. Then she felt it, her speed force rising to the call. No, no, no, she thought, not now. She pushed it down and concentrated on maintaining a steady, no extra effort pace. She reached the hundred yard mark, stopped and turned around. "See, it's no good."
Ms. Schroeder was looking the other way. "Coach Blevins, can I borrow your stopwatch?" Then she turned back. "Sorry Louise, but I'm going to have to ask you to do that again."
"Fine, whatever. Let's get this over with."
Louise ran the hundred yards again, putting in just enough effort to not be a slacker, while keeping her speed force at bay. "Satisfied now?"
The two coaches where looking at the second stopwatch as Louise walked back to them.
"Louise, you shouldn't be at this school."
"That's what Mr. Frond keeps telling me, Ms. Schroeder."
"Run this one match for us and we'll start the paperwork to transfer you into the Olympics program."
"That wasn't a world record, but for your age these timings are astounding."
"Let Louise run. She'll be our winning streak!" Millie shouted from the bleachers.
"Do I get to run with the bunny hat, Ms. Schroeder?"
"No, I'm afraid that's not permitted."
"Deals off then. Can't run without my lucky bunny hat."
That afternoon Mr. Fischoeder returned to Bob's Burgers and was seated at a table across from Tina and Louise. He watched Louise attack a cheeseburger, then turned to Tina. "She certainly can pack those away, can't she. Now for the schedule. We can have you two try on the outfits on Saturday then we do the promo shots on Sunday."
Ms. Schroeder entered the restaurant. "Mrs. Belcher, I have to talk to you about your daughter."
"Which one? What did they do this time?"
"It's Louise. Her running speed is phenomenal. Can you please ask her to join the track team?"
"I'm sorry, but my little Louise needs to get ready for her summer job. She's got no time for extracurricular activities."
"Mrs. Belcher, I think your daughter has an excellent chance at the Olympics program."
"No, thanks. We're not interested. Right, Louise?"
"It's not about the personal fame. She'd be helping our country and she'd get a full scholarship to a top university."
"No, she's got more important stuff to do right here."
"Can I at least leave you a brochure about the program?"
"If you like, but you're wasting your time here."
That evening Bob was reading the brochure at the kitchen table. "Linda, you know how hard it would be to get even one kid through college, and this full scholarship would really help. What would it hurt for Louise to try out?"
Linda didn't look up from the pasta she was stirring. "Bob, if Louise wanted to she could go to that Olympics and come home with all of the gold medals. But is that what she really wants to do?"
"Not weightlifting Mom. It was all I could do to budge Tina's fat ass."
"I'm not the one who's eating like a pig."
"You watch your language, young ladies. So what did happen at school today? Did you cheat, Louise?"
"No, I was so focused on not cheating that I didn't pay attention to what I was doing. It didn't seem like I was putting any effort into running."
"So your special training is paying off?"
"Wait, what training?"
"Bob, our little girls have taken up running in the evenings."
"Wait, what, why? After this abduction? Oh my god you've got to be kidding me."
"They're looking for their brother, Bob. And you two know what to look out for now, right?"
"Anybody who tries to grab me is going to do without that hand from now on."
"Now Louise don't go maiming anyone. You're not so weak that you have to resort to that."
"This is insane! Our girls can't walk by themselves at night. That's it. I'm going with you two."
"You really want to go jogging after spending all day on your feet Bob? Okay, you two, after dinner walk with your dad down to the park. When Bob collapses on a park bench Louise can show him how well she can run, without cheating."
"Are you sure that's okay Mom?"
"Louise, you said yourself that you're worried about keeping the cheating under control. So it's good to practice running without it."
"Wait, what's the cheating? Louise, are you using drugs?"
"Of course not Dad."
That night when Bob returned home he staggered up the stairs to the master bedroom, tossed off his jogging outfit and collapsed in bed.
"Did you try running, Bob?"
"Linda, watching Louise was exhausting enough. She really is running off all those calories. Given any sort of head start nobody is going to catch her. So why not have her try out for the Olympics?"
"Bobby, you've seen what happens to those child athletes. Do you really want to push her into a life like that just so she can make a living endorsing breakfast cereal and jogging shorts? Didn't you want her to have a normal childhood?"
"You're right Linda. I'm not going to be a monster like my dad. So what are we going to do about college?"
"Louise can wait until high school then get an athletic scholarship to college. Until then she can just be an ordinary kid."
The next day the two girls were walking home from school when Louise looked off to the east. "Are we going to have somebody abducted in a light bubble every Friday?"
"What?" Tina tried to look in the same direction, but saw only clouds.
"Wait, it's coming this way. And it's a yellow bubble this time."
"Is it ascending or descending?"
"Looks like it's coming down for a landing."
"Let's change. Take my backpack home." Tina handed her backpack to Louise.
"You need to get your books out of your backpack also."
"Okay. Meet you right back here in ten seconds." Louise vanished, leaving behind only her trademark scarlet streak with lightning flashes that faded in a fraction of a second.
Tina looked around then stepped into an alleyway. There was a flash of green light then Emerald flew up out of the alleyway, carrying the Green Ranger on her back.
The Scarlet Streak bounced between buildings to reach the rooftop below her sister. "Looks like he's headed to Wonder Wharf. Meet you there."
"Wait, don't rush into..." Tina realized she was only talking to herself and urged her imaginary horse to follow her sister to the wharf.
The Scarlet Streak leapt over the locked gates and passed under the Wonder Wharf sign to enter the park. She stopped twenty feet in front of a man in a yellow and black outfit. He could almost have passed for human with his black mustache and receding widow's peak hair, if it wasn't for his red skin, bulbous head and pointed ears.
Is this the alien Tina talked about? Louise wondered, then addressed him with her voice distorted by superspeed. "I'm sorry but the park isn't open for the season yet. Please return in two weeks."
"I am not here to be amused child. Hand me the ring of Abin Sur."
"Is that what his name was?" The Green Ranger stopped next to her sister.
"Excellent. Hand me that ring."
"Because I must destroy the Green Lanterns. Hand over the ring and you have the word of Sinestro that no harm will befall yourselves or your planet. Indeed I will return to greatly advance your race once I have conquered this galaxy."
"Don't destroy my green lantern."
"The Green Lanterns. The wielders of those green rings who serve the Guardians of the Universe."
"I like The Green Ranger better. It sounds a lot more active."
"The TV reporter came up with that one." Tina turned back to Sinestro. "These Guardians sound like good guys."
"Really? What part of recruiting ignorant children to fight for them is good? This galaxy is riven by chaos which the Guardians support by spreading their rings so widely. I will bring order and stability. You are no match for me child. Surrender the ring and go home to your parents."
"No! This ring was entrusted to me and you can't have it."
"Very well. Let it not be said that I did not warn you." Sinestro raised his left fist and a beam of yellow energy shot from his ring to pass under the Green Ranger, disrupting the horse she was seated on.
She landed on her butt. "Emerald, you've killed her!"
"How delusional are you? Your constructs were never alive in the first place."
"Oh right." The Green Ranger re-summoned Emerald and had just gotten back on her horse when Sinestro disrupted it with another light beam.
Suddenly a yellow bubble appeared around Sinestro. He glanced at the source of the loud humming noise behind his back. "Silly girl, if your first punch is too weak to penetrate my shield then the next thousand will do you no good as my defenses regenerate at the speed of light!"
The Scarlet Streak backed up fifteen feet and rubbed her hands.
"See, you're only hurting yourself."
She vanished, leaving only a brief scarlet streak behind her.
Sinestro turned back to the Green Ranger. "Now that your little friend has run off let's end this."
The Green Ranger held up her left fist. "Restrain him!"
"What?" Sinestro summoned spikes of yellow light to pop the dozen green zombies that had appeared around him. "While you have no skill or force behind your creations your artistic skill is impressive. Were those grotesque shapes meant to frighten me? You have potential, but perhaps you are wearing the wrong color of ring."
Sinestro looked behind him as The Scarlet Streak hopped away at super speed on only one leg. "You may be fast little one, but you're nowhere near strong enough to overcome my defenses."
He turned back to her sister. "Let me show you the true power of the yellow ring, the power to summon a foe's greatest fear!"
A half dozen yellow shapes surrounded the Green Ranger, each resembling the rotting bloated corpse of a drowned Gene.
"No! I didn't mean to. I tried to save you!" The Green Ranger collapsed to the ground.
Bop! Bop! Bop! Bop! Bop! Bop! Bam! The yellow shapes were all popped by a baseball bat that then shattered a few inches in front of Sinestro's face.
"Yes, complex shapes are more fragile than a simple shield." Sinestro watched the Scarlet Streak rub her palms. "You two have spunk. Renounce the Guardians girl, and join me. Come with me to Qward for your own yellow ring and I will train you in the arts of fear. Once we have defeated the Guardians this planet and the entire sector around it will be yours to do as you will, subject only to my call. You can bring your sidekick also. I will train her as well for speedsters are often useful. And I will provide her with weapons of actual use. Not a ring I'm afraid, as that would be like plugging a battery into an alternating current circuit."
"No, I'll never join you!" the Green Ranger ran at Sinestro and swung a baseball bat of green light at him, which shattered against his shield.
"Enough of this." Sinestro projected a yellow energy tentacle that wrapped around the Green Ranger, then turned at a metallic whine that ended with a snap. He saw the handle of a butcher's knife fall to the ground next to a blade that had snapped off, with it's blunted and bent over tip glowing red hot.
"You attack me with a knife? What a primitive world this is. Yes, go run off again. You are of no importance." He turned back to the Green Ranger. "I ask one final time girl. You can surrender the ring or join me, but you have too much potential to leave you with the Green Lanterns. It would pain me to slay such an artist of fear so I will try to spare you life when I do what must be done."
"Never, I'll never join you."
"Very well." Sinestro moved the yellow energy tentacle to force the Green Ranger's left hand above her head, then summoned a yellow energy blade.
The blade swung towards the Green Ranger's wrist and was caught by a golden lasso.
"I think that girl needs to keep her hands to herself!"
"What?" Sinestro turned to the source of the rope and voice, a raven haired woman of impressive physique who wore red and white nearly knee high boots, a leotard that was red and white on top and blue with white stars on the bottom, and golden bracers, belt and tiara.
"Another nuisance?" He sent a shower of yellow needles at her, but she deflected these with her left bracer as she coiled up her golden lasso with her right hand.
With a flash of green light Tina forced the yellow energy tentacle off of herself, dropped to the ground and ran off.
"Come back here girl!" Sinestro flew after the Green Ranger, but then turned back and threw up a hasty shield.
The star spangled woman's fist crashed through Sinestro's shield and impacted on his face with such force that he was thrown back into the can knock down booth. She ran towards him, but he quickly flew out of reach.
"You wretch!" Sinestro held his nose with his right hand as he kept the ring on his left pointed at her. "Don't think you've seen the last of me." He flew up into the sky.
She watched the sky for a few seconds then turned and ran behind the bearded woman building, from which there was a sudden flash of golden light.
The Green Ranger and the Scarlet Streak ran after her and stopped when they saw who was there.
"Gene, you're back!" Tina looked around. "Did a wonderful woman just run past here?"
"Wonder Woman?" Gene smiled. "I like that! I'll use that name."
"You're Wonder Woman?" The Scarlet Streak managed to convey utter disbelief through her speed force distorted voice.
"Louise, is that you? You've changed."
"I've changed?" Louise resumed her normal voice as she dropped out of super speed. "How can you be that woman?"
"The goddess Athena made me a body out of magical clay to fight evil."
"But why a woman?" Tina asked.
"I've spent the last week training with the Amazons on Paradise Island and it wouldn't be a paradise if men were allowed there. Anything happen while I was gone, besides everybody turning into superheroes? So what will we call ourselves, The Belcher League?"
"We're keeping our identities secret." Tina transformed back into her street clothes. "Let's make that the Justice League."