Neither Helen Morgendorffer nor Linda Griffin could figure out why the Legion wanted to stay at the hospital overnight on Saturday night. Both women attempted to convince their daughters that there was no point in it. However, Daria and Sandi, although seemingly not alike, gave the exact same excuse to remain there.
"Like, how did it go?" asked Sandi.
"It went great," said Quinn. "Daria told Mom that since we were at the hospital, we could do volunteer work and possibly cheer up patients!"
"That was my idea, too! Cool. That keeps us all together. I'd hate to think that some of us would be split up. Tiffany's still in the waiting room. So…where did Daria and Jane go?"
(la la LA la la)
"This is highly irregular," said the hospital's administrator, who was called in from a weekend with his family. "You're transferring the Mayor."
"Yes. We're transferring him upstate. For his safety. There might be an assassination attempt," said Daria.
He turned to the supposedly responsible adult. "And you're going to let yourself be taken there by five teenage girls?"
"Listen, Mr. Houghton," said the Mayor. "I'm prepared to sign out of this hospital AMA if I have to. I'm not going to let Cedars of Lawndale become a free-fire zone."
"You still need IV fluid. You have two drains in your body and a chest tube! You need at minimum round-the-clock nursing care, and an ambulance to take you there."
"No ambulance. The Legion is going to take me!"
"Then you'll sign out AMA to relieve Cedars of Lawndale of liability. I'm contacting our lawyer and your physician."
"Make the calls."
"And we can't let you have a morphine pump!"
"I said I want out. Now. As fast as possible. Ms. Lane, if they give you any trouble…."
"Uh…sir…," mumbled Jane, "I think I am going to need the hospital bed."
Houghton turned red. "You can't have it. You'll have to – "
Suddenly, without finishing his sentence, Joe Houghton immediately turned on his heels and walked away.
"What the hell -- ?" asked Jane.
"Never mind," said Daria. "just be glad he's gone." He'll be driving right home, unless that command I just gave him wears off. Maybe he'll write it off to temporary insanity.
"Good. Cover him up with as many blankets as we can get," said Jane, "Tiffany, tell the nurses that Mayor Dunlap is leaving ICU. And ask if they have any empty beds…because we might be dropping by for a long stay sometime."
(la la LA la la)
The nurses disconnected Dunlap's IV tubing, leaving the catheters in his arm for future IV access. The Mayor was rolled out to the freight elevator, his chest tube drainage bag and urinary catheter bag hidden under blankets.
"We've got it. Thanks." Tiffany and Jane pushed the hospital bed into the elevator and stood back as Daria pushed the button.
"This elevator takes us right to the basement," said Daria. "The nurse said this is how they get the deceased to the funeral wagon without anyone noticing."
"Young ladies," mumbled Dunlap, "I hope this plan of yours will work."
"I think it will keep the hospital safe," said Jane. "It might not keep us safe though."
"I'm tired of the weirdness," said Daria. "I don't want to spend the next five months looking for that bastard. I'd rather him come to me."
"I wouldn't," said Tiffany.
As the elevator doors opened, the three girls pushed Dunlap through the deserted basement and out an exit door. Quinn and Sandi's three selves were waiting for him.
"So, do you need our help?" asked Sandi 2.
"Cover him up with blankets. Tuck as many of them into the bed as you can. Tie the blankets to the rails if you have to. I don't want him moving around," said Jane. Seven Legionnaires went to work, if one counted the three Sandis working alongside.
"I thought you said this would be a quick trip," said Dunlap.
"It will," said Jane, as the metal hospital bed began to slowly levitate, "it will."
(la la LA la la)
Lou Cypher pulled up near the hospital, alongside a side street.
He was very surprised to see that there weren't any cop cars there. He wondered if it was an attempt to somehow sucker him in for an ambush. The lack of cop cars filled him with unexpected dread.
The plan was to go in armed. All of the bullets on earth couldn't stop him, and the police would be too frightened of hurting the sick to fire inside the hospital. He'd interrogate someone, figure out where the Mayor was, and blow him to bits, along with any frightened Legionnaires he bumped into.
They wouldn't dare use their powers in a hospital. But his powers weren't for show. Advantage: Cypher.
He picked up a new leather raincoat and had fun that morning outfitting it in a way that would have made Keanu Reeves in The Matrix proud. Plastic body armor was under his long slacks, and he was armed with six kinds of death going in. Even his hat was armor-plated. If there was any attempt to surprise him going in, there would be another think coming.
Instead, Cypher experienced the dread of not being challenged. No cops. A bored security guy. No milling masses. No barricades.
Cypher, in his best Walking Dude impersonation, walked over to reception. "I would like to see Mike Dunlap, please."
The receptionist smiled. "That's room 701. Intensive Care. But he's – "
Cypher walked to the elevator, not bothering to hear the rest.
(la la LA la la)
Cypher made his way to the ICU:
ICU Visting Hours
Family Members Only
It was 1:40 PM. The halls were not set up with machine gun wielding, maniacal cops. Something was very, very wrong. Were they undercover? Was someone packing heat?
Nurse with a shiv in her stocking?
Cypher strode into the ICU. A desk, manned by nurses, floated in the middle of the floor, a fort barricaded by nurses and surrounded by the dying. He walked up to a nurse on the floor.
"My name is Lou Cypher. I want to see the mayor."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Cypher, but the mayor isn't in his room!"
Cypher realized he had been had. He rushed to Room 701.
Cypher cursed under his breath. Someone was going to die for this. Maybe the nurse who told him the bad news, first.
The nurse followed him into the empty room. "Mr. Cypher…I think someone left you a message. It was for 'someone in black'."
The angry Cypher was handed an envelope marked, "To Whom It May Concern". Cypher opened it.
In Jane Lane's handwriting, it read,
It looks like we've got what you want. We've got the mayor and we're at Legion Tower. It doesn't matter who you kill now since as long as we have the Mayor…we run the city.
And Legion Tower will be going up despite anything you can do to stop it.
If someone sent you, they're going to be really pissed off that you blew it. So you know where to find us. We're not going anywhere! You can either cause trouble, and wait for us to pound you into spaghetti sauce, and fight off the cops at the same time, or you can take us on at the Quarry – alone -- and we can finish this. We won't have cops.
If you can kill us, you get the mayor too and you win. If you don't kill us…you're screwed.
We'll be waiting.
(la la LA la la)
"So…do you think he'll show up?" said Jane.
"I helped you with the letter, didn't I?" said Daria. "I think he will."
"I don't know. If I were him…I mean…there's Trent…and your Mom, and your Dad, and…."
"Don't think about that!" said Daria. "Besides…if this guy was really psycho enough to go after our parents, or our family…what would you do?"
Jane turned grim. "I would kill him. Kill him dead."
"Exactly. If he hurt anyone we loved, that would make it no holds barred. He doesn't want to face down five psychos. We'd murder anyone who did that. Besides…I have my own theory…about things."
"Our show yesterday didn't make the news. As far as Lawndale and the rest of the world knows, the mayor was shot and the Legion was just in the way, with our thumbs up our butts. Yet we knew there was a camera there. And my Mom didn't hear about you or Quinn, or Sandi, or anyone whose powers manifest themselves in obvious ways. There was a cameraman. He should have been filming. He was filming. And yet, the hospital isn't deluged by the press, waiting for exclusive interviews."
"Okay. I'm listening. Go on."
"Remember when we saved Stark? A whole plane load of people saw us use our powers. We had two FBI agents on the helicopter. Stark made a phone call, and the FBI wasn't a problem any more. And we never saw anything on the news, or on the Internet, or anything about you or Quinn. Not even a second-hand eyewitness account."
"Yeah. That was weird. So…there's a news blackout?"
"Yup," said Daria. "And I don't want to know who is blacking the news out or how they do it. But it was easy. It involves the government, in some way."
"That could have been just Stark. Maybe he has pull."
"Yeah. That's true, it could just be Stark. But note the attacker didn't just stride in and kill the mayor with whatever powers he has. He used a gun. We only saw his powers when we tried to stop him."
"So this guy isn't obvious."
"Maybe he just doesn't have obvious powers, except for invulnerability. On the other hand…if this guy knows that you don't use powers in a public place…then going to face us head on at a deserted quarry is the best thing going for him. I tried to piss him off enough in that letter. I did everything but imply that he's underendowed."
"And we ambush him, right?" said Jane.
"Actually, I wasn't thinking of an ambush," said Daria, "although an ambush sounds like a really great idea, come to think of it." She turned to Jane. "Maybe we should get a meeting of the Legion together…and be ready for when this guy comes."
"If he comes."
"If he comes. But he knows that he can do whatever he wants at the Quarry without the eye of cameras, or cops. And if that isn't an invitation for someone to use their superpowers in lethal and highly dangerous ways…then I don't know how to write one."
(la la LA la la)
Lou Cypher made sure that he was armed. He knew enough about three of the Legionnaires. One had magnetic powers, and that made her the most dangerous. However, he was ready. The knives and other objects he carried were plastic and non-metal. He would have loved a gun that could shoot plastic bullets, but a hard plastic shell had never been invented that could survive the pressures put on a metal bullet by a handgun. It was too late to get a gun that fired rubber bullets. He was left with birdshot, plastic pellets that wounded animals. For now, it would have to do.
The lightning girl was another problem. She could throw a jolt. As a result, he was now missing the pinky finger of his left hand. There was no pain outside the ache that he always felt in his bones, every day. This body, was frankly, worn out. He didn't know what to do next.
The problem was the other three Legionnaires. He had found out that one could duplicate into three people, which was really no advantage at all – one helpless girl becoming three helpless girls. Just gave him more hostages. The one in blue and the one in white were complete mysteries. Cypher figured that if they were really dangerous, they would have done something.
And they didn't. Once he got rid of the first two, it was a waltz the rest of the night. Kill the stragglers, kill the mayor for good measure. Mission accomplished. Really, it was their mistake, asking to meet him in the middle of nowhere.
Two o'clock in the morning. Past a little girl's bedtime. He would see if they were night fighters.
(la la LA la la)
Sandi 3 looked through her binoculars. Wearing black, she poked her head from under the underbrush and whispered into her gold-colored phone. "Someone's coming!"
Two to three. Who do you think it is?
"I can't tell, but he's driving a black Trans-Am. I think it's him!"
Got it. Lie low.
Sandi 2 turned off her phone. She woke up Quinn. "Sandi 3 saw him pull up on Old Quarry Road."
"Are you sure it's him?" said Quinn, yawning.
"It has to be him," said Sandi 1, "anyone coming up that road is a construction worker or an intruder. It's two o'clock in the morning, and all the construction guys are home."
"Got it." Quinn pulled out her pink phone. "Quinn to Jane."
Silence. "Let him come in, then. We'll meet him at the chokehold."
Jane turned to the Mayor. The two stood on top of the incomplete third floor of Legion Tower, far away from the Legion Trailer Park.
"How are you doing?"
"I hurt like hell. So…he's here?" asked Dunlap.
"Yeah. We have a twenty-four hour watch." Sandi's triplication power finally had some use to it.
"And you girls can handle him?"
"Some of us. Just me, Quinn, and Daria. The others can't help right now."
"What about the girl who became two people?"
"Three people," said Jane. "We need heavy duty power. Even if…we have…uh…trouble…he shouldn't be able to find you here." Jane tossed the Mayor a cellphone. "Wait two hours, then call the police. They'll come down here and rescue you." And if we lose, they'll haul our corpses to the funeral parlor.
"You girls are the bravest people I know."
Jane smiled. "Well, don't flatter us. We really didn't have any choice to be so brave." With that, Jane used her powers and floated away.
It didn't take long to traverse the distance from the tower to the chokepoint. Jane hoped that Cypher had not left his car, because she felt more vulnerable than ever in flying. She made sure her protective field was extended in front of her.
As she landed, Daria stood by. "I wish I had a gun or something."
"Just concentrate on trying to read his mind. Quinn and I will keep him busy."
"Good. He's coming uphill anyway. I don't think you're in danger, but I'd fly fast and low to the ground if things get out of hand."
Quinn was already charging up.
"Stop doing that!" said Jane. "You'll give our position away. We'll hit him in the dark."
"We need to hit him in the chokehold…if he tries to get out!" said Quinn.
"You could blow up the car!" said Daria.
"Shh!! He's coming!" said Jane.
Jane, Quinn, and Daria moved to the bushes. Sandi 1 and Sandi 2 stayed near the Legion Trailer Court to bring whatever the Legion might need, but both had been told to stay out of the fighting. Tiffany had been told to stay away as well as she could not yet control her powers.
Two headlights broke the darkness, two small suns breaking the horizon and extending horizontally to break the night sky.
"Closer…closer…." Said Jane. "NOW!!"