No, I don't own any rights to these three characters, or their supporting staff. I'm just writing a story based on their adventures in an alternate future.
The PowerPuff Girls--New Generation
Her name had been Buttercup.
She was just one of three, small, powerful little girls that had waged war on crime in the city of Townsville. Their childhood home. And for such a small town, it had more than its fair share of villains, madmen, and would-be world conquerors. One megalomaniac chimp came to mind right off the bat.
That was then. This was now.
She didn't call herself Buttercup any longer. That name had been left behind with her childhood, and her sisters. Out of habit, she still favored green, but that was just because it was a good color on her. She sighed, and looked out the window, and wondered what her sisters might be doing now.
A part of her protested, not wanting to care.
They had all split up after the Professor's death a few years ago. Bubbles had taken it hardest. By then, though, they were already coming apart. Growing up was making them realize they had more interests, and dreams than just flying around pounding on wannabes.
"Betty," a familiar voice cut into her daydream. "Take this up to the twenty-fifth floor, would you," Sandra Martinez asked her, the stocky woman handing her a thick file. "Mr. Owens needs it at once."
"Yes, Mrs. Martinez," she nodded, and rose from her desk where she had stacked her last piece of typing on the corner of her desk ten minutes ago.
As one of the secretarial pool, she earned enough to help her get through the usual bills, and pay for her night classes at the local university. Considering she did cheat a little, she still couldn't feel too bad about typing faster, and more accurately than any of the other girls.
As she took the file, and headed for the elevator, she smiled as she remembered the first time the supervisor had found her daydreaming at her desk. She had just did three hours work in thirty minutes, and was staring at the bluebirds flitting about the window outside on the twentieth floor of the business that employed her. Sandra had been ready to cut into her, as she scolded any other lazy 'college girl,' until she started sifting through her typed papers, letters, and other assignments, and realized she had actually finished every one of them.
Since then, she also used 'Betty Flowers for errands that she knew would be run just as efficiently, without her dawdling to gossip, or kill time any other way. She pressed the floor she needed, nodding at the supervisor as she held the files to her chest, her very ample chest some of the men in the office murmured, not realizing she could hear them whisper a mile off.
It was funny, even though she was trying to live a normal life, trying to get the education she needed to follow her dream of becoming a real crime fighter by joining the FBI, or something like it, she still couldn't deny her powers. They made life easier, and sometimes she had trouble holding back when part of her still wanted to launch herself into the air, and howl with the thrill of battle.
Those days were gone, though.
She had a real life to deal with, and as she stepped off the elevator to head for Mr. Owens life, she knew she had better get focused, or that life would be a lot more difficult without a job. And she already knew she absolutely hated waiting tables. That job had lasted about one hour. The time it took for one moron to swat her bottom. Just before she tossed him through the window. And fifteen feet through the air.
That had not gone over well at all.
She had been lucky everyone believed her cover story about being a martial artist.
Stopping at Mr. Owens' own executive secretary, she offered the file, telling her simply, "Mrs. Martinez sent this up."
"Just take it on in," she was told by the iron-haired woman that ruled the twenty-fifth floor, and guarded the boss' office from any and all. "He's expecting you."
She frowned. This was new. Usually she dropped off the files, whatever they were, and was sent back down to her own desk. She nodded, keeping her smile, and headed for the door to knock before she entered even if she was expected.
"Come in," she heard, hearing a distinctive voice of the man who ran the company. A man she had seen from afar many times, but never actually met.
"Ah, Ms. Flowers. Do come in," he gestured as she opened the door, and approached his desk.
"You wanted this file, sir," she asked.
"Indeed, I did. I also wanted to see you."
"You did," she frowned.
"Yes, I did. I wanted to personally see the miracle worker who managed to salvage a fifty million dollar deal that almost sank without our knowledge."
"I don't understand, sir," she frowned.
"I'm told you're a very fast, very accurate typist, Ms. Flowers," James Owens smiled at her.
Betty sighed. He was handsome enough, she supposed, but she was used to people leering at her, thinking her breasts measured her IQ, and her sexuality. "I do my job, sir," she told him firmly, setting the file down on the desk between them.
"Yes, you do.
"Yet you also managed to do much more than that.
"Three days ago, someone lost the Ferguson Prospectus. Not only lost it, totally botched a lot of the critical information involved in a certain project that was key to a very valuable contract.
"Imagine our surprise when it showed up on your desk, where it was apparently fully corrected, and ready for presentation."
"Oh, that," she nodded, remembering the names now. "I just noticed a few of the calculations were off, and so corrected them the same as I would any other mistake in correspondence I'm doing," she shrugged.
"A few calculations. And you did them in your head?"
"Well, yes, sir," she nodded. "They weren't that complicated."
"No? Ms. Flowers, I have a full research department still trying to understand how a low-level typist did in a few hours what they worked on to no avail for over three months.
"You wouldn't be a ringer, would you," he smiled.
"No, sir," she said firmly. "I'm just a secretary."
"Just a secretary," James grinned, looking his charming best as he flashed her a winning smile. "Sure you're not a physics student, or closet genius?" "I'm just taking night classes," she told him. "In criminology."
"That's a peculiar direction for a secretary to take," he commented.
"I've always been interested in law enforcement," she shrugged. "I'd like to get into some aspect of it someday."
"All right," he drawled. "A crime-fighting secretary with superior reasoning skills. You could do worse," he smiled. "I don't suppose you'd like to take a look at a few problems I have here," he asked, holding out a small sheet of paper.
"Just a kind of….unofficial test," he smiled.
"To be honest, I'd like to know what this is for, sir," Betty asked uneasily.
"As I said, an unofficial test," he smiled, still holding out the paper.
"Fine," she sighed, and took the paper.
"Just sit down anywhere," he gestured around his office. "And do what you can in…..say, five minutes."
Betty eyed him, then the paper, and went to a low couch before a glass coffee table after snatching a pen from his desk. He arched a brow at her decision as she sat down, eyed the paper, and saw nine complex equations on the sheet she lay in front of her on the table.
Complex, of course, unless of course you had been created, raised, and educated by someone like Professor Utonium. His level of genius went beyond most people's understanding of intelligence, and his ability to genuinely think way outside the box, as Blossom used to say, was why he had also been an independent researcher. For who else would have come up with a nameless, regenerative nannite-based serum he called simply Chemical X. The very serum that had created her, and her siblings.
In three minutes she finished the last equation that seemed to deal with some aspect of quantum physics as far as she could tell from the incomplete sections of the equations she was handed. She rose, taking the paper back to him, and dropped his pen back into the holder on his desk as she handed him the paper.
"Is that all, Mr. Owens," she asked him blandly, sure that Ms. Martinez had her desk covered with new work by now.
He was looking through the file as she walked over, and he arched that sardonic brow again as he closed the file, and took the paper. He glanced over it, and his silver eyes rounded as he studied her responses to the problems.
"You really understand all of this?" "Basic quadrilateral equations," she shrugged. "I would guess, and say it was an attempt to exploit quantum theory for some new research, but the fragmented equations are complete enough to figure out what direction you're heading," she told him.
"Good…..God," James rasped as he stared at her. "And you say you're only a secretary," he exclaimed.
"Temporarily," she nodded as she sighed again. "I should be getting back to my desk now, too," she added. "So, if there isn't anything else…..?" "Go on. I may want to speak with you again, later, though.
"What are you doing this evening?" "I have class," she told him. "I believe I mentioned night classes."
"Right. I don't suppose you could miss tonight….."
"Big exam. I can't blow it off," she told him.
"Right. Well, later then," he told her.
She nodded, and left. She did have work to do, and she liked her desk cleared before she went home. It was part of a deal she had made with herself when she took the job. She had often been accused of never getting organized, or getting things done properly, let alone working well with others. Well, she had proved she could be, and do all those things, and more. And she had done it without her sisters.
She sighed, thinking of Blossom and Bubbles, but then she ruthlessly pushed those thoughts aside, and stepped off the elevator to head for her desk. She had work to finish after all, then she just had time to get in a bit of last minute studying before she took her finals tonight.
Just three last tests, and she would have a Bachelors' in criminology. It was a start, and it would help her apply for more and better positions closer to her ultimate goal. In the meantime, she still had bills to pay, and that meant getting to work.
Betty stepped into her small apartment located on the top floor of the crumbling, old brownstone that was barely the size of her old closet at home.
Still, it was her home now. Her place. Her battered couch. Her bookshelf overflowing with books. Her little bedroom, and sagging, bunk bed. Yep, it was all hers. She sighed, settled onto the couch, and switched on the radio. The strains of a popular classical rock station filled the room as she sat there, unwinding, and letting the day's stress fade.
She had just made it to the third test, and she was certain she had passed it as well as the first two, but for some reason the professor of that particular class had taken an instant disliking to her. She supposed he was just a misogynist, since she was one of only two girls in the entire class, and the other was a brainless blonde who just wanted the credit to pad her resume, and she even acted like the airhead she was, kissing up to the old man to get her grade, and get out, as she put it.
Betty kissed up to no one. She did her work, and she went home. End of story.
It didn't help the man kept trying to make advances to her, certain that, like all girls in the night classes, she was just looking for a free ride, or a sugar daddy.
It obviously upset him to find out she was looking for nothing but a degree.
She had thought he'd give up by now, but she should have known better. The vile, old lecher.
Still, it was his fault that she had finally lost her temper after all these years of swallowing it. His fault that what happened earlier tonight had happened.
She wondered if she had blown her secret even as she recalled when he stopped her, telling her to come back after everyone else had left.
She should have known better.
The old man had actually tried to blackmail her into an affair with him. Her grade on the test for a date. And he made no secret about what kind of date he expected. She had burned with fury. Five years of saving, working hard, and doing everything just right to earn her degree, and this old lecher was going to ruin all her plans. Her hopes and dreams. She lost her temper in one, tense moment of staring at that smug, old parasite who eyed her so arrogantly.
Less than a heartbeat later, they were a hundred-fifty feet in the air, and she was holding him up by his ratty jacket, her green eyes sparkling with the power locked within her innocuous frame.
"Listen, you old fart," she had growled at him in the same tone once reserved for that troublemaking monkey. "You're going to give me a fair grade, and you're going to let me pass, or I'm going to hunt you down wherever you go, and you won't like what happens next.
"Because if you blow this test for me, I will have absolutely nothing left to lose.
"Absolutely nothing," she had growled as she pulled him within an inch of her furious visage.
"Which is just what on this earth could stop me from getting to you.
"Do we have an understanding," she had demanded, using his own vile words against him.
"I asked," she had begun, finishing with, "Do we have an understanding," after she had dropped him, and caught him just ten feet from the ground.
He could only nod as she set him down, a suspicious dampness at his crotch dribbling down to form a pool at his feet. Another eye blink and she had reclaimed her books from the classroom where she had burst through that one open window since the school didn't waste AC on night classes. A furtive glance around had proven no one had seen her as far as she could tell.
Now, sitting in her own apartment, she realized she could have handled that old fart more discreetly. Okay, so she did still have a temper. But she had been pushed just about as far as a woman could be pushed. She was certain there were tons of girls out there that would have loved to have treated that old man like that, if not worse.
Still, a part of her now regretted her actions. It had been a guilty pleasure, and she knew it.
She sighed heavily as she stared around her empty apartment.
"Okay, so I do still have a temper," she told the empty room. "But just a little one," she amended.
Besides, she had been careful to check the area before, and after her outburst. No one had seen her. She was safe. She was pretty sure of that.
She groaned as the news was full of reports of a flying girl over the university the previous night, sparking comments of unauthorized experiments, illegal aliens from waaaaay out there, and even underground superheroes who were trying to stay under government radar so they wouldn't be overwhelmed by law suits in today's court-happy world.
Still, there were no pictures. No direct eye-witnesses who didn't sound as if they had just come off a bender, or worse. Just vague reports from around the campus in the vicinity of a certain frat house noted for partying till the last second before they had to face class.
She snapped off the small black-and-white portable she used to watch the news and weather, and sighed. She had gotten lucky. Hopefully, she'd stay lucky, and that old professor would just give her a fair grade, she'd get her degree, and then she could move on. That was the plan.
Meanwhile, Saturday stretched out before her with far less to do than usual, since all she had to do now was wait until the mailman delivered her grades, and her degree. She considered a movie, but frankly, nothing she had heard of being out sounded all that entertaining. She had her usual breakfast, five eggs, sausage, toast, and juice. She had to keep her energy up, after all.
She was still planning her first free day in what seemed years when a knock sounded at the door. She was frowning as she headed for the door, tightening her belt around her robe since no one ever climbed the long steps to reach her dinky apartment. It was another way of keeping unwanted visitors at bay, and maintaining her privacy.
Apparently, someone wanted to see her pretty badly to climb all those steps.
She opened the door, genuinely surprised to see James Owens standing there in casual dress, and smiling ear-to-ear. "How's my favorite secretary," he grinned. "Did you pass your exams?"
"I'm pretty sure I did," she said blandly as she studied him warily. "What can I do for you, Mr. Owens?" "Aren't you going to invite me in," the tall man asked her, and she caught on to his game at once.
He wasn't the first man to try using his size to impress, or intimidate.
"This is my day off, sir," she drawled, standing there in the door. "And I have plans. So unless you have something to say…..?"
"All right. Right to the heart of the matter," he smiled, and only then did she see beneath his veneer. He was nervous, and sweating a bit from having come up those aforementioned stairs. Not as intimidating as he had likely hoped, and she couldn't help but smile, and nod.
"Please do," she told him, still standing in the door.
"Right. Sandra said you were a no-nonsense type of girl."
Her green eyes narrowed on him as she added, "Woman, Mr. Owens. I'm not a little girl. I'm a grown woman."
"Which any blind man could see, Betty," he tried being smooth now.
"The heart of the matter," she reminded him, easing the door closed a few inches as if she were about to shut it.
"All right, Betty," he nodded. "I'd like you to join my research lab team.
"Now, naturally, you can't actually work in the lab since you aren't certified, or accredited, but you are the best mathematician, and transcriptionist I've ever seen. I would like you to…."
"Mr. Owens, I only took that job as a part time means to pay for my night classes. Once I have my degree, I'm going to apply to the bureau, and perhaps continue on a master's as well.
"Either way, in a few weeks, maybe a month or so, I'll be moving to the capitol to pursue my plans."
James frowned. "Leaving? But you'd be wasting a real talent. A wonderful intellect. Betty, you are one of the sharpest minds I've seen come along in years. You'd be a valuable addition to our research….."
"As a transcriptionist," she drawled, starting to push the door closed again.
"Wait, please," she asked. "Betty. That's just a start. I could pull some strings, and I'm sure that in very little time I would be able to get you the certification needed to let you work in the lab itself.
"I know Dr. Buckhannon would love to have you on his team. He was genuinely impressed with how easily you finished those equations. Especially since you also did them accurately, and without any aid."
"Harold Buckhannon," she frowned.
"Do you know him," he asked, surprised she recognized the name.
"I've….heard of him," she told him in a neutral tone, not telling him he was the man that had seen to it her 'father' had been laughed out of the state university's research department over eighteen years ago. Just five years before he had created them.
"Well, he would love to have you working with him."
"Yeah, right," she thought to herself as she gripped the door harder than ever, resisting the urge to slam it. Harry, as her father had called him, was quick to take other peoples' work as his own, and claim credit for it. He had tried stealing some of her father's work, but the professor was smarter than Harold. He had everything locked in his head, and when Harry couldn't replicate the full experiment he had stolen, the truth came out.
By then, Professor Utonium didn't care. He left the university, and the research he loved to become a freelance research scientist. A move that led toward the creation of her, and her siblings. Still, the professor had never forgiven Harry for his underhanded dealings. "A blight on the scientific community," was the least her father had called him.
"I don't think it would work out," she told him.
"Why not," James asked a little anxiously.
"I've heard about him from some of the older professors at the university," she told him bluntly. "Did he ever win that lawsuit against him regarding the slander charges he alleged from the members of Gen-Tech who accused him of theft, and fraud?" "Ah, well, actually that case was settled out of court."
"Right. Anyway, you do realize he doesn't exactly have a sterling track record," she told him. "And I just wouldn't feel right putting my future in his hands.
"Good day, Mr. Owens," she said, and shut the door.
She expected him to shout. To bang on the door. She was surprised when he apparently just went away.
She went to get dressed, pulling on jeans, and a baggy tee she favored that was bright green, and had a pair of eyes on the back. "I'm watching you," the shirt read across the front. She had thought it was funny when she first saw it, and had bought it despite the ridiculous price on a simple tee-shirt.
Of course, for a woman on a tight budget, everything seemed priced ridiculously. Deciding to make this just a lazy day, she left her apartment, and walked uptown, indulging in some window shopping as she just let her feet, and her mind wonder. It was a pleasure she had not known in a long time, and she really enjoyed it.
The sun was close to setting by the time she headed home. Along the way, she paused at a public phone, called in a pizza order to be delivered, and then continued to her own apartment to wait for the pizza on the front steps. She already knew the delivery guys didn't like walking up nine flights to deliver a single pizza.
He showed up right on time, and she paid for the deep dish with extra pepperoni, and then she headed up to her apartment.
She was about to walk into the tiny corner that served as a kitchen/dining room when she realized there was a bright green box with a white ribbon and bow wrapped around it setting on the table. Frowning, she walked over to the box, and carefully studied it after putting down her pizza, and the few bags she had splurged on during her day off.
She saw no card, and didn't notice anything suspicious, but the box's very presence was suspicious.
"Really, Buttercup," a bright, bubbly giggle sounded from behind her. "You're just as paranoid as ever. You really haven't changed much at all, have you?" She spun around, and stared at the voluptuous blonde before her that was leaning against the wall of her bedroom door.
"Hi, sis," the blue-eyed blonde still wearing pigtails grinned, wiggling her fingers on her right hand as she straightened up to approach her. "You're a hard one to track down, do you know that?" "Then how did you find me," she asked Bubbles suspiciously.
"Hmmmm, let's see," the young blonde dressed in a short, blue skirt, with a shorter halter that had a heart cut into the bodice to flagrantly expose her ample cleavage smiled. "I turned on the news this morning, and heard all about the flying girl over the university.
"I'll admit, it was a little tougher narrowing the field, but while I was flying over the city, I just happened to spot a certain girl in green who looked a little too careless about her safety as she strolled through the streets."
"I'm not careless," Betty/Buttercup growled back as she opened a cabinet to take down a cup to fill it with her favorite soft drink. "Want some," she asked irritably as she opened the pizza setting on the tiny counter that served as cabinet, and table both in her little kitchenette.
"Sure," Bubbles smiled. "I like pizza," she reminded her sister.
"Sooooo, what is in the box," Betty asked as they sat on the only two stools before the counter/table and ate in silence for a few moments.
"You'll have to open it, and see," Bubbles winked at her, one dainty foot swinging to show the pristine white lacy crew sock easily seen since her three-inch heels were open-toed.
"It'll keep," she grumbled back, reaching for another slice of pizza. So much for having some left for breakfast. She had forgotten how much Bubbles could put away. Of course, she hadn't seen her sister in almost six years now.
Not since that dreadful eighteenth birthday, really their twelfth since they had been created at about six by their father. But the records said eighteen, so at the time, they all argued over what they would do as adults.
Blossom, always the leader, always pigheaded, and overbearing, was so sure they should continue to fight crime in their own unique way. She was so sure Buttercup….That Betty, would never be able to do anything on her own. Not without losing her temper, and really screwing up.
Okay, so she had a few bad episodes over the years. Pardon the rest of the world, and her, for being human. Pretty much.
Blossom wouldn't even listen to her. She never had.
She didn't even know if she had heard the last thing she had ever said to that maddening redheaded sister. "Goodbye forever," she had spat as she walked out the door. Walked, just to make a point.
"So," Betty finally said when the pizza and soft drink was gone. "How have you been?" "Oh, peachy," Bubbles smiled a genuine smile. "I work at the animal shelter, and help take care of the strays when I'm not at the zoo. I've got a honorary doctorate in veterinarian medicine, and….."
"Wait. An honorary doctorate?" "Well, it turned out there really wasn't much they could teach me that I didn't already know. When I started working part time just to help out at the zoo, and animal shelter, I also found out I had a lot of stuff up here already about animals, and how to take care of them.
"It turned out I could do more than just talk to them," she giggled characteristically. "I could heal them, too."
"That's….pretty cool," Betty allowed. "I guess Blossom still works for the mayor?" "If you mean the new city mayor, no. She went freelance, and works for Ms. Bellum now. They have a kind of private eye thing going. It's pretty tame stuff compared to what we once did, though. Not that it matters. The new mayor kind of frowns on super beings fighting in his town. He's practically made being super illegal in Townsville.
"Nowadays, only the Super Guys do all the big hero stuff, even around Townsville."
"I hadn't noticed," Betty drawled.
"So, Buttercup, why did you start calling yourself Betty," Bubbles suddenly asked, looking solemn in the same instant. She always was mercurial in her moods. Apparently that had not changed, either.
"I wanted a fresh start," she told her honestly, wondering if maybe Bubbles would understand, and would maybe help Blossom understand. If they still talked.
As she recalled, the pair had lit into each other even as she walked away. She knew, because she had heard the furniture crashing as she left her childhood home behind that last time.
"I also didn't want to make it easy for anyone that knew me to find me. I mean, could you see me trying to do my job, or take classes, and suddenly have Mojo crashing through the walls with some new death machine he wanted to try out?" "Mojo is dead," Bubbles said quietly.
"Dead," Betty frowned. "I heard he stopped showing up every other week, yeah, but….dead? What happened?" "No one knows for certain, but Blossom said the rumors around Townsville Prison claimed Him was involved."
Betty couldn't help but shudder. Him had been one of their most mysterious, and unusual foes of all time. They never did learn much about Him, except that s/he was evil incarnate, and really wanted to bring down the girls because they were such paragons of virtue in the eyes of the world.
"Yeah, well, that's something else I don't miss. Being the target of every chest-beating, world-conquering wannabe that had an ego problem when it came to a girl being bigger and badder than they were."
"I can respect that," Bubbles said quietly. "But….why didn't you ever come back," she asked. "You never wrote. Never called. Nothing," she said in such a small voice that Betty knew she had been missed by at least one of her sisters.
"I….I guess I had to prove I could make it on my own first," she said. "I wanted to prove….to show Blossom that she was wrong about me."
"Well, when do you think that would be? Because I'd really like to celebrate our birthday together this year," she said, referring to a day Betty knew well enough was only four days away.
"I don't know.
"I'm waiting to hear how my last tests went, and if I passed them all, I'll have my degree in criminology. A bachelor's degree, at least. But I'll have earned it.
"Just like I earned the money for this apartment, and everything else I own."
"Uhm, Buttercup, surely you could find another job? I mean, you must not be making that much…."
"I've spent most on rent, books, and my classes," she admitted. "The home thing didn't mean that much to me," she shrugged.
"Or the wardrobe, either, I'm guessing," Bubbles suddenly chortled, smiling again.
"Hey, I've got a very nice wardrobe."
"I saw it. All green skirts and dresses, with plain blouses, and drab shoes. You really need to learn to accessorize," Bubbles told her, flicking a silver earring that was shaped like a dolphin dangling from her left ear. The right, naturally, was a bird.
"Well, I'm a secretary, too. Not just a college girl," she told her. "I have an image to uphold."
"What happened to the girl that used to say, "Screw image, let's have fun?" I miss her," Bubbles told her in a mischievous tone.
Betty started to say something as she stood up to clear away their trash from the impromptu meal, and then shook her head. "Sometimes, I do, too, Bubbles.
"Bubbles. Do you still go by that, then?" "It is my name," the blonde told her, kind of hurt. "Remember the day we were born. Professor Utonium named all of us. Blossom for her politeness, and bold manners. Me for my joyful, bubbly personality. You for…."
"'Cuz Buttercup started with a 'B,'" she finished sourly. "Yeah, yeah, I remember."
"I still miss him," Bubbles sighed.
"So do I," Betty said again, and frowned uneasily when Bubbles suddenly leapt up and hugged her.
"You have to come home. Please. At least for the birthday party. Just think what a surprise it would be for Blossom."
"You're both still living…..there?" "Yeah. But she's hardly ever home. Like I said, she's working with Ms. Bellum, and they're always out on some case, or something else.
"It gets a little lonely," Bubbles admitted. "If it weren't for the zoo, and the shelter, I don't know what I'd do."
"I'll try to show up," she said, scowling. "But I'm not making no promises," she added as Bubbles looked so excited she seemed ready to go ballistic. "I said try. As in maybe."
"That's something, at least. And I won't tell Blossom, or Ms. Bellum. I'll keep it a surprise.
"Oh, and there's one more thing I would really love before I go," she said.
"What," she sighed.
"Would you fly with me again?" Betty frowned.
"Pleeeease. Just once. A little hop around town just like old times."
"I don't exactly have anything……"
"Open the box," Bubbles exclaimed.
Betty groaned as she eyed the box again.
"Why do I know I'm going to regret this," she asked no one in particular as she glanced at the box in the corner of the living room.
Bubbles only smiled.
Twenty minutes later the two siblings soared high over the city as Bubbles hooted and howled her delight.
Betty groaned, but couldn't keep the smile from her own lips as she remembered the games they used to play when not pounding bad guys. She had felt a little silly when she first pulled on the outfit Bubbles had brought her that was somewhat like her own.
That is, a bright green skirt and halter, with the same cleavage-exposing design, and for footwear she had white stockings that rose just below her knee, but with low-cut hiking boots and a dark green armband on her left bicep to give her a distinctive appearance. Bubbles, she realized, did still know her.
"Isn't this great," Bubbles shrilled as she flew circles around her, spinning gleefully around as they rose higher into the sky, and then dove down in a mad game similar to the tag they had once played as children.
"It brings back some memories," Betty allowed, remembering how much she liked the rush of wind across her face.
"Buttercup, do you…ever miss those days. You know? When we were all together?" They hovered over the city, near her apartment, and she smiled wanly into her sister's face. "Yeah," she finally admitted. "I….I still love you guys, but…..Blossom," she said helplessly, and just growled.
"Yeah, I know," Bubbles giggled. "She can really be a control freak."
Betty laughed. "That's putting it mildly."
"But you could really push her buttons, too. Admit it, Buttercup."
"Betty," she corrected.
"Buttercup," Bubbles said stubbornly.
"You always had a temper. Sometimes, I think you two liked fighting. Maybe that's why…."
"Why, what," she asked.
"Nothing," she said less than innocently. "I really hope you'll be there Wednesday," she added. "Now, I'd better go. I have to check on a sick zebra."
"It was good seeing you, sis," Betty waved her off, watching as Bubbles flew away so fast she seemed to almost vanish. She knew better, of course. Of them all, she had always suspected Bubbles was the fastest. Not that she'd ever admit it. Not out loud.
She hovered in the air for a few minutes, enjoying the breeze, and the relative silence, and then decided she'd take a walk to calm her nerves that still jangled after her wild flight with her sister. She touched the ground in an alley just four miles from her apartment, not wanting to be seen, and then walked out to the street to start her walk.
"Hello, gorgeous," a man called from a convertible as he slowed his car as she walked down the block. "Looking for company?" "Not yours, creep," she scowled at the balding, fat man with too much jewelry, and not enough hair.
"Hey, girlie," a stocky, older woman with thin, graying hair spat as she came out of a doorway. "You working my block?" "Working your…..? Heck, no," she scowled. "I'm just trying to take a walk here," she said, noticing two big, black toughs, and three girls that were obviously whores. Then she realized how she was dressed, and how it might look to an average person.
"Bubbles," she groaned. "I should have known better."
"Walking, is it," the older woman said as she nodded at the two toughs. "Well, you got all the right curves in the right place, girlie. Maybe I'll let you join my stable if you prove you can make me some money."
"Forget it, lady. I have a job, thank you."
"Hey, bitch," one of the thugs spat, dropping a ham-like hand on her shoulder to stop her from walking away. "No one tells Granny no."
"Hands off, jerk," Betty scowled, and shoved the thug. To her credit, she only pushed him lightly, so he only flew about four feet before he hit the brick wall behind him. "And I just said no, so deal with it."
The other man swore, and pulled a knife. "No one…."
"Screw this," she said, her eyes flashing just before the knife somehow melted right out of the thug's hand.
He yelped, dropping the molten blade even as the old woman leapt forward with surprising agility, and planted a hard fist on Betty's jaw. To her surprise, Betty flew back several feet to hit the pavement before she could catch herself.
"No one touches my boys, slut," the old woman spat as she stalked toward her with curled fists.
Betty leapt up, her own fists curling, then realized what was happening.
"Oh, heck. I do not need this grief again," she said, and simply looked up.
Looked up, and went up. Straight up.
Granny, and her recovering thugs stared up in amazement as the girl vanished into the night sky. The old woman stared at the empty sky with scheming eyes, and said, "I want her," in a tone that her two sons knew quite well.
Granny, seeing dollar signs before her as she noted the melted knife on the pavement now cooling into useless slag, then looked back up at the sky. "Yessir, I want that little bitch.
"Find her," she told her sons, and whores. It was an order that could not be denied, or ignored. Granny was a force to be reckoned with on the streets, and when she gave an order, she was obeyed.
"Betty," Sandra called her name even as she looked up from the last letter she had just finished typing, and carefully placing in the out basket. There was also a saved copy on the computer's hard drive, and one on the floppy disk for backup. It seemed the company loved paperwork, if nothing else.
"Ms. Martinez," she nodded as she cleared the word processor's screen, and looked up. "What can I do for you?"
"I do like the way you're always so polite," the woman smiled. "Anyway, Mr. Owens wants to see you in his office now that you're free."
"About that," she began. "I need to tell you….."
"You can tell me whatever you have to say when you get back. You're expected upstairs now."
"Yes, ma'am," she sighed, and rose to head for the elevator as Sandra lifted her last letter from her out basket.
She smoothed her skirt as the car rose up to the twenty-fifth floor. Her white blouse that contrasted with her green skirt, and natural coloring were still relatively fresh. She had recently trimmed her dark hair so it hung loose around her head in a casual bob. Easily maintained, and yet functional, it was very much like the look she had carried through childhood. She tried not to think about that. Just as she didn't think about that outfit she now realized really was ridiculous that she had packed away, and would absolutely not be wearing again.
She stepped off the elevator a moment later, walked up to the aide who was eyeing her as she approached, giving her that look that always seemed to indicate she had somehow been found lacking, but today it barely registered.
She had a good idea she knew what James Owens wanted, and she was afraid she was going to lose this job even sooner than she had planned. All the same, she was simply not going to be working in the lab. Not even in an unofficial capacity. Certainly not for Harry Buckhannon.
She announced herself, was told curtly to go right in, as before, and headed for the doors.
She knocked, stepped inside, and looked over at the desk where James Owens sat.
Then her eyes locked on the gaunt, white-haired man who stood beside him.
"You," Harold Buckhannon spoke first as he locked eyes with her.
"Yep," she drawled insolently, eyeing the man she had only met once, and disliked instantly. "Me. And you're you.
"Now that we've established that, what's next," she asked, looking to Mr. Owens who seem completely nonplussed.
"Uh, Betty, I was just telling Dr. Buckhannon how I feel that we could….." "I cannot have her loose in my lab, James. I'm sorry, but I can't. That….abomination is a creation of Utonium's that almost killed me once."
"Because you tried to killed him first," she shot back. "After you cost him everything."
"You….do know each other."
"Surely you know," Harold spat. "That is one of those annoying do-gooding little girl heroes they used to call the Powderpuffs."
"Powerpuffs, you old phony," Betty shot back. "If you're going to insult me, at least get it right."
"I don't care what they call you, Buttercup," the old man spat. "You're an abomination that Utonium should have destroyed the moment he realized what you were."
"Am I missing something here," James frowned.
"Just my resignation, Mr. Owens," Betty said, and turned on her heel, and headed for the door.
"Betty, wait," James jumped up.
She went out the door without looking back.
Ten minutes later she was clearing out the few things of her own from her desk after she told Sandra she was leaving. She gave her old address in Townsville for her forwarding address, but didn't actually plan on going there. Not just yet, anyway. She still had things to do.
"But….why," Sandra was asking as she packed up the small box with the few tokens, and articles she treasured.
"It turns out Dr. Buckhannon knows about my past, and I can't work with him. I doubt he would leave me alone, either. So, I have to leave."
"But, Betty," the woman shook her head. "No matter what you did, you've proven you're a good worker, and a valuable employee….."
She looked back at the older woman who was friendly in her own way, and smiled. "I'm glad to have known you, Ms. Martinez.
"As to what I did? I kept Harry Buckhannon from killing my father. He's a liar, and a cheat, you know. He's never invented, or discovered anything he didn't steal first."
Then she stepped onto the elevator, and knew her parting words would spread fast knowing the power of gossip among the secretarial pool. Let the old jerk deal with that for a while. Abomination Like he was one to talk. He had been the one that gave Professor Dick the means to create the Xtreme Powerpuff Girlz he had created that time. Just one more attempt to stick it to his longtime rival, and superior scientist.
She sighed as she stepped off the elevator, and headed out through security for the last time. A half hour later she was packing her few belongings in her apartment as she knew without her job she wasn't going to be able to keep it.
Fortunately, she had some good news. That very day, the mail had contained both her grades, and her degree, having been mailed early it seemed. Apparently she had shaken up the old letch enough that he made doubly sure she was given her due as fast as possible. Fine by her, she thought, easily balancing the two, large boxes, and a duffel bag that contained her worldly possessions in her arms as she stepped out of the apartment for the last time.
She considered what to do, then decided to heck with everything, and launched herself into the sky with her burdens, turning due west toward Townsville. Maybe it was time she did try to mend a few bridges. She had done what she set out to do. Blossom would have to see she was more than just a tomboy with a bad temper now.
She was a college graduate.
Douglas Stamper, Granny's firstborn illegitimate son walked into the apartment of the weird flying girl they had finally tracked down. Only from the looks of it, they had found it too late. The old lady that rented the dump claimed she took off four days ago. No one knew where. She didn't leave a forwarding address.
A few drunks claimed they saw her fly west. He didn't doubt them. But west was a lot of territory. Granny was going to be pissed. He had to find out more. He had to figure out where she was going, and who they had to squeeze to figure out how to handle her.
He'd find out. Sooner or later, he would know all he needed to know, he decided as he left the old firetrap he couldn't believe anyone would rent. Even if they were desperate. He was good at finding things out. That was why he was Granny's favorite son.
"I've got a special surprise for you," Bubbles told Blossom in a singsong voice as Ms. Bellum set the birthday cake on the table before them with three stripes of color marking it's length.
"What is it this year," Blossom asked with a rueful glance at her business partner. "Kittens?"
"No, silly. But I did find a stray.
"Tah-dah," she said, pulling open a door, and revealing Buttercup standing behind it in a modest, green dress she wore with black flats, and white hose. Her best dress, actually, and she wore it for that very reason.
"Hi, guys," Betty/Buttercup smiled a bit stiffly as she came out of the pantry where Bubbles had insisted she hide.
She had been hiding for the past few days, since Bubbles was overjoyed to have her back for the time being, at least, and yet still wanted to keep her presence a surprise until their birthday. Their official twenty-fifth birthday.
"Buttercup," Blossom gaped at her as Ms. Bellum smiled fondly at Bubbles.
"Now I know why you've been giggling more than usual all week," the older redhead remarked.
"I wanted to surprise everyone."
"You did," Blossom, and the redhead said as one.
"So…..Happy Birthday to us," Betty asked, holding a thin package in her hand in bright wrapping paper.
"Yeah," Blossom, her pink eyes suspiciously bright smiled. "What is that," she asked, nodding at the gift in her hand.
"Ah, it's….kind of a present for….all of us. In a way. Mostly, it's mine, though."
"Typical," Blossom stiffened.
Bubble's smile faded as she moaned, sensing trouble already, but Betty stepped forward, and handed it to Blossom. "I'd like you to open it though.
"It's….well, it's complicated. Maybe you'll figure out what I'm trying to say when you see it."
"Okaaaay," Blossom murmured, and tore the paper open.
"Who the heck is Betty Flowers," she frowned a moment later as she looked at the framed degree in criminology.
"Me," Betty told her. "I had my name changed, and made official when I moved. I couldn't too well get a job, or go to college calling myself Buttercup."
"Why not? It's your name," Blossom said quietly as she handed the degree over to her sister as she stared at her from her chair from which she had yet to rise.
"Sit down, Betty," Sara Bellum told her, gesturing to the chair. "We're all very proud of you. I'm sure the professor would be proud, too."
"So, you found her," Blossom asked Bubbles.
"Yep," her sibling grinned brightly again, her blue eyes bright with happiness.
Blossom sighed, and ran a hand through her red mane that fell long around her shoulders. As in her youth, she still wore a red ribbon in it to hold it back. She was no child, though. Like her and Bubbles, she had grown up all woman, and no jeans, and sweatshirt, which she currently wore, was going to hide that fact.
"I guess I know what kept you away from us all this time," Blossom finally said as she stared at the red, blue, and green cake before her. She looked up at Betty, and asked, "How did you decide on Betty?"
"Well……It starts with a B," she smiled faintly.
Blossom smiled weakly, giving a quiet chuckle. "Yeah, it does.
"That was….for you guys," she blushed as she admitted that fact even to herself only at that exact moment.
"Gee, Buttercup, that kind of makes your name even more special than ours," Bubbles commented artlessly. "It's like all three of us together in one name, sorta."
"Sorta," Betty agreed.
"So, master criminologist," Blossom suddenly smiled. "What are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. I was thinking of a master's degree. But….well, I think I'd like to try just working for a while without worrying about classes, or tests. Maybe get some practical experience on a police force, or maybe try the marshals. Something like that."
"We could always use you," Sara told her as she carefully cut the cake so each girl got a piece with a sliver of every color crossing it. "Our firm is really taking off lately. We have some serious cases, and it wouldn't hurt to have another investigator to help out."
"I don't know," she sighed. "I'll be honest. I didn't plan on coming home so soon, but…..
"I ran into Harry," she told the girls as she eyed the cake set before her. "He still has a mad-on for us."
"He's a jerk. Always was. Likely always will be," Blossom snorted.
"Yeah, well, he's a jerk that could make a lot of trouble for us. I think he's working on something to do with the quantum theory. If the fragments of the calculations I saw were any indication," she told him. "I think he's trying to create a viable teleportation process, or some similar device.
"That could cause a lot of grief if he gets far enough along to make something work instead of just blowing up half the county. You know how he is with new toys."
"Yeah," Bubbles said gravely. "He can be a real party-pooper."
"Speaking of which, let's can the shop talk, and just celebrate family being together," Sara suggested as she poured four glasses of soda for them before setting down to toast them.
"Happy birthday, girls," she toasted them as the three of them smiled, and shared a rare moment.
"Happy birthday," Betty murmured, looking at her sisters in turn.
"Happy birthday," Bubble cheered, spilling her drink as she raised her cup a little too enthusiastically.
They all sighed. Some things certainly did not change.
"Welcome home, Betty," Blossom told her quietly later.
"Thanks, Blossom," she smiled, and returned the unexpected hug. "It's good to be home."
"And I've missed you, too," she added, knowing Blossom sometimes took a little longer than even she did to admit to certain feelings.
"Knucklehead," Blossom scoffed, and punched her arm.
"Know-it-all," Betty countered, and punched back.
"I really am glad you're back," she told her as Bubbles and Sara did the dishes as they cleaned up the living room after their impromptu celebration.
This time the hug was not so quick, or hurried.
And both girls had tears in their eyes.
Harold swore as he looked at the equations before him.
So close. He was so close.
He had high hopes when that girl had actually corrected portions of his proviso that his idiot assistant had let slip away with the usual correspondence without even ensuring it was correct in the first place.
Then James had claimed he had a secretarial savant who could do advanced trigonomic calculations in her head. He had been skeptical at first, sure someone had a ringer in the company trying to spy out just what he was up to, and so he sent a few of the toughest equations, fragments, mind you, from his primary theorem for her to view.
To say he was stunned when they all came back whole, and accurately completed would have been a gross understatement. He was ready to hire her on the spot, certifications be damned. After all, it was his project, and his fame and glory, and wealth when the theory was proven, and applied, he could write his own ticket. Instead, James had come back to announce the girl wanted to be a cop. A lowly law enforcement officer. As if being a secretary weren't low enough for her.
He talked James into appealing to her again, and he had personally gone to her apartment which the man claimed was a real pesthole. Yet still the girl would not accept his offer, and barely heard him out once Harold's name came up.
Harold was worried then. Was she connected to someone that had been in his way before now? Did she have family connected to someone he had tapped in his never-ending rise to power, fame, and fortune? He decided to meet the girl face-to-face, and try to plead their cause, hoping she was just reacting to some of the negative press that was still circulating about him. Whatever it was, he was sure he could charm this mousy secretary that was a math-wizard into helping them. For the good of the company, and all mankind, of course.
Then she came into the office.
She was older, sleeker, but no less familiar.
That annoying, willful, temperamental fly-in-his-ointment.
The very worst of the three, unnatural brats Utonium had somehow brought to life with his bizarre experiments that surpassed anything he had been able to replicate in all this time no matter how hard he tried.
Utonium, and his power brats had ruined so many of his schemes, directly, or indirectly over the years that he hated them more than anyone else in the world. Especially that one. And to find out that she, the overly-aggressive, vindictive bitch who always seemed to get in one last shot, was the one that possessed such knowledge was a galling blow.
Little wonder he exploded.
Later, when he was calm again, he knew he could have handled the situation better.
He should have been more conciliatory. He could have charmed her even then, but his own temper had exploded, and ruined his chances for a quick, and speedy resolution to the final formulae holding him up. He had trouble explaining to James about the girl's past until he was forced to pull up certain files on the net to prove she really was one of those three, vexing would-be heroines that once flew around doing 'good deeds,' and generally butting in when not wanted.
Not that he had told James of his particular slant. He just explained the girls were young, immature, and anything that looked suspicious to their childish eyes tended to get pounded without question. Like much of his former research into certain energy weapons, and animatronic androids, and a few genetic experiments that admittedly got a little out of control. He explained how the misunderstandings led to some bad blood, but that he had thought he had put it behind him until that dark-haired girl had walked into the office, and stared at him as if she were about to start ruining things for him all over again.
James Owens was the kind of man that felt he controlled his little part of the world. He accepted his story, and suggested he try to smooth things over with Betty, or Buttercup, or whatever the girl was calling herself now. Knowing he was right, he headed for her apartment only to find out she had already left. The girl had just vanished as if she had never been.
He returned to his lab, shaking violently with fury, rather than fear.
His one chance to finally succeed, and she had vanished.
He never once thought she would return to Townsville. After all, she wanted to be a cop. And even he knew the story of the mysterious disappearance of Buttercup almost six years ago, just shortly after their 'father's' death. Even he didn't know why she had left, but he had heard some nasty rumors after she vanished, apparently never to return.
It was almost ironic she had shown up here as a secretary looking to become a cop.
For an instant he had even feared she might have known about her last meeting with Utonium. The one that killed him.
But, no, she didn't mention him. Said nothing about her 'daddy.' So his secret was still safe.
For the truth was, his theory, his work, and all progress to date had come from Professor Utonium's own lab. He still remembered the day he had gone to see his longtime rival just about eight years ago. He had been struggling with a particularly tough problem, and thought he might enlist his aid for old time's sake.
To his astonishment, he saw his fledgling equation, (borrowed from a certain gifted intern), was part of Utonium's current work that was scribbled in detail across three large chalk boards as casually as another might scribble out an outline for a book report. To his chagrin, the man had even developed a prototype for what he called a null-field generator as he had christened it to harness the quantum field in an attempt to somehow overcome the negative effects of chaos in the real world, as he explained it.
With his work all but complete, and ready to patent, the professor had suggested he go find someone else to rob, as he was not getting anything from him this time.
Harold had to admit he had a bit of a temper himself at times. Hoping to come up with a profitable theorem or two to get him back into the scientific journals, and on the fast track to success once more, he saw his dreams crumbling, and he went berserk. In the ensuing struggle, the prototype went off, and the professor was literally vaporized. Nothing was left of him but a piece of charred lab coat, and one smoldering shoe.
Proof that the now ruined prototype had almost worked.
It was enough for Harold. He pulled out his digital camera, and snapped picture after picture of the complex equations. Only the last chalk board was almost cut in half by the discharge that had just missed turning him into human barbeque, too. He swore, but took what he could, and made a covert escape after wiping most of the remaining boards clean. No reason to leave anything valuable behind, after all.
Later, he watched the news with gleeful smugness as Utonium was declared dead in a mysterious lab explosion. He even made a bid at 'adopting' the orphaned brats, but Buttercup had been quite explicit in what she would do to him if he even tried. Not that it mattered. They three became wards of the entire town, and for the next eighteen months, until they became legal adults, they were allowed to live in the familiar home they had been raised in by their 'father.'
Shortly after their eighteenth birthday, Buttercup disappeared. The other two soon gave up their own heroics, especially after the new mayor began passing laws and restrictions against the random exercise of 'super powers' inside town limits. That didn't stop the villains, of course, but now the police and guard were expected to work more efficiently, and effectively, and to everyone's astonishment, they did. Only a few months after the once heralded trio had 'retired,' very few even missed them.
Still, as Harold now sat in his lab, surrounded by the incomplete equations that had been cut off by that stray explosion years ago, he had yet to be able to complete the work despite a parade of gifted aides and assistants. James Owens had been impressed by his initial work, and his theory, but now, he was getting impatient waiting for results. What was galling was that the answer likely lay in the mind of the one person he never would have guessed had any wits at all.
The redhead, maybe, but Buttercup? Who would have guessed she had that kind of a brain? Certainly not him.
If anything, he would have written her off as mere brawn.
A bully at heart just waiting for her next fight.
And he would have been wrong.
That galled him more than anything. That he had been wrong. And that for almost five years, the answer to his problem had been working in a secretarial pool in the same building. It was enough to make a man consider murder.
Betty/Buttercup was sitting in the middle of the professor's old lab, heedless of the dust and cobwebs as she looked around the place where they had been created. They had not been down here in years. It was still pretty much the way it had been left after the police had come in and dusted everything, and taken their pictures, before they finally called it an inevitable accident. After all, the entire town was used to explosions in the professor's lab.
This had just been the last one.
She sighed, and looked around, wishing there was a way to change everything. A time machine. Something. Because she could really use her father's gentle, patient wisdom just now. In the back of the lab, the hulking ruin of Dynamo still rested. She spared a faint smile for the ill-fated robot created to augment their powers that had ended up doing more harm than good. She smiled as she recalled the time the Mayor had gotten into the robot, and inadvertently unleashed his own hapless form of destruction upon the city.
Of course, that would never happen with Mayor Taylor. Tom Taylor, the law-and-order mayor was in charge now, and he had no use for heroes, or heroines. The new police chief he had hired had all but laughed her out of the precinct when she had tried to submit her application. Her years of study, and education meant nothing to him. She was still one of 'those' girls.
She sighed, and looked around again when something caught her eye.
She frowned, then shouted as loud as she could. "Blossom!"
The foundations of the house shook as she summoned her sister, knowing Bubbles was at the zoo with a zebra that turned out to be pregnant, not sick. Blossom, however, was at home today, in between cases as Ms. Bellum was at the office dealing with the usual paperwork from their last assignment.
Buttercup, in her own jeans, and tee, was downstairs in an eye blink, standing at her side. "What is it," she asked anxiously. "Is something wrong?" Then she noticed where she was, and frowned. "And why are you in the professor's lab?"
"Look at that," she pointed. "Tell me what you see?" Blossom frowned. "Buttercup, is something wrong? What are you talking…..?" "What do you see," she stressed, standing up to glare at her impatiently.
"A….chalk board," she asked helplessly, uncertain as to her sister's problem.
Betty sighed. "Look closer."
"Okay, so…..I see some numbers and letters. But they were erased. So?" Green eyes flashed coldly as she walked over to the board, and began to replicate the equations. "Listen, Blossom, you're the one that always said to study a problem completely before we jumped at the symptom. Right?
"Well, fact one, when was the last time the professor ever just wiped a board clean without washing it afterward? He always said the 'ghost' images distracted him. Remember?" "Maybe….he didn't have time, Buttercup," Blossom asked, having fallen into Bubble's habit of calling her by that name again.
Betty sighed. "There's something else.
"Fact two, remember what I told you about Harold Buckhannon?" "Yeah," the redhead nodded, well tanned, though many people tended to think she might be an albino when first meeting her due to her large, pink eyes. Not many outside Townsville guessed the truth since they had rarely been in the news in over a half dozen years.
"These," she said, tapping at three of the equations she had restored on two of the boards in short order. "These are the very problems that he sent down to have me work on.
"And this," she added, lifting the broken chalk board to copy what her sensitive eyes could make out. "This is the very theorem I first corrected on that prospectus when I thought it was just a mistake in transcription."
Blossom stared hard at the complex mathematical formulae appearing at the end of the chalk in Buttercup's hand.
"You….really understand all this?"
"Sure. It looks like Professor Utonium was trying to access the quantum field for some reason. From what I can tell….."
She froze, and stared at her sister. "Oh, no."
"What is it?"
"Here. If Harry tries doing anything with what he has, he really could blow up half the world," she told her. "Or worse, shrink it to the size of an atom."
"Holy cow," Blossom exclaimed, eyeing the formula before her, and starting to catch some of what her sister was seeing. "I think you're right."
"Well, of course I'm right. We have to stop Harry."
"Hold it," she said when Buttercup would have headed for the door.
"We can't just rush out and accuse him. You know how that would look?" Betty clenched both fists, and shook her head in disgust. "I know," she hissed. "But he's only going to deny anything we say anyway, so……"
"We do this right, Buttercup. The way Betty would."
Betty stopped, looked at her, and nodded. "All right.
"The first thing we need to do is get proof of what he intends. Since you and Ms. Bellum seem to be settled into the P.I. thing, I'm leaving that to you."
"And what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to finish the equations on this formula. The professor was onto something, and no way am I going to let that loser patent it before us. We'll finish it up, and then I'll file it under the professor's name for a memorial."
"That's a good idea, Betty," Blossom smiled. "I'll head down to the office, and run this past Sara. She still has some political connections. She'll know how to best get a handle on Harry's status, and how to undermine it so we can get the proof we need.
"After all, we all know how he likes to crow, or complain. All we have to do is set him up, and he'll likely tell us everything we want to know."
"Yeah," Betty nodded as she studied the shattered chalk board. "I need another board," she said, and vanished for a moment only to reappear a scant second later with a new, larger chalkboard where she immediately set to etching out the calculations, and completing them without any discernible pause as she worked with a focus once reserved for her workouts.
Or so it seemed to Blossom.
Betty, meanwhile, had already seemed to have forgotten all else as she frowned over her work, and started to look at some of the previous work, going back to redo a few things as she moved back and fourth across the large boards where she began to methodically and doggedly reproduce the professor's earlier work. Halfway through the newly corrected equations that she noticed the problems the professor had solved were slightly askew to the true values, she began to frown as something began to occur to her. She looked over at the old workbench where a shattered, charred lump of metal lay. The prototype quantum generator the professor had apparently misfired, causing his death.
She looked back at the equations, then suddenly smiled.
"I know what happened," she said as she began to scribble out something that popped into her chemically superior mind as synapses began to fire almost as fast as she could fly, which was pretty fast. She actually had to slow the chalk, or melt it from friction as she quickly went through all the boards, redoing key, and critical computations until she stood back, and nodded soberly at the results.
Five minutes after she was finished with the last equations, she was standing over the fried prototype, and starting to rewire the surviving electrical harness inside the charred casing she had pulled apart to start rebuilding it.
She had a theory. And a plan.
Hopefully, both would fit together once she got everything together. In the meantime, she had to do her best to be ready to put Harry back in the gutter where he belonged, and protect her father's work. Because once she got this device finished, she'd have all the proof she needed that the work Harry was trying to pass off as his own, again, was really Professor Utonium's.
She was certain she had the calculations completed accurately now. Just as she was certain they were the correct ones this time. She just had to figure out the tangled mass of charred wiring, and make the stupid device work right this time, and she would have everything she needed.
To Be Continued……