If you were to ask Guy Gardner all the things he had expected to see while in the midst of a heated battle, there's a very good chance that a modern art sculpture falling out of the sky and flattening Killer Frost—accompanied by a triumphant exclamation of "Bombs awaaaay!"—was not one of them.
He spared a glance at the remaining parts of the sculpture that dangled above—five large blue spheres—which swung alarmingly. The woman he knew as 'Alice' sat astride one of them, hands clasped around the sturdy steel cable that kept it suspended. She hauled herself up into a standing position, feet braced on either side of the cable, still swinging and tugged at the steel plate bolted to the ceiling that anchored it in place, throwing all her weight into action. The plate tore loose with a spectacular bang and a shower of plaster and with mere moments to spare, she leapt to one of the neighboring spheres just as the last crashed to the ground. It rolled and knocked Killer Frost—who had managed to struggle out from under the first sphere—flat once again. This time, she stayed down.
"Love it when I pick up the spare," Al called down.
And with the arrival of the third blue sphere, which narrowly missed Coldsnap, complete pandemonium broke out.
It's not that Guy Gardner wasn't used to having assistance—as a former member of the Justice League, teamwork, no matter how much he disliked it as a concept, was part and parcel for the job—but he wasn't used to assistance in the form of random women he'd just met, swinging down from airport balconies to knock over his enemies. Which is precisely what Techie did.
Guy had no idea where she'd gotten rope and frankly, it didn't occur to him to ask, as she swung down clumsily and struck Coldsnap in the chest with one outstretched leg. Screaming, "Banzai!" she landed poorly, her kneecap slamming down in the center of Coldsnap's sternum and her other foot somehow winding up beneath him as he hit the floor. All in all, it didn't look at all like a comfortable position to be in, but not half so uncomfortable as the headlock Coldsnap somehow managed to get her into as he tried to wrestle his way out from under her.
Almost simultaneously, a coffee/book cart came barreling out of nowhere, with the Captain picking up steam running behind it, aiming in the general direction of Captain Cold. It rattled and jerked and lost paperback after paperback on its rickety path of trajectory with all the power she could muster behind it.
Captain Cold, rather than panicking or diving out of the way, merely quirked an eyebrow behind his blue plastic shades and raised his cold gun, aiming directly at the cart. A flash of light and a stream of blue later, the cart came to an abrupt halt, sheathed in ice.
While the cart came to a stop, the Captain did not. She slammed face-first into it and landed flat on her back, blood gushing from her mouth. One of her teeth was definitely loosened, she mused dazedly, counting the tiny tweeting birds circling her head, and her glasses were cracked.
"Ooow," she groaned and rolled onto her side, only to come face-to-foot with a blue leather boot, trimmed in white fur.
"That was incredibly stupid of you," Captain Cold said, fittingly enough, coldly, as he looked down on her.
"You…" she spat blood and wheezed, "have a stupid name."
Captain Cold didn't respond beyond a glare of disgust. He took aim with his cold gun once more, setting his sights directly on the Captain's blood soaked face.
The only thing that saved her from a premature—or, depending on your point of view, long overdue—demise was a solid wall of muscle slamming into him and sending him sprawling. The Captain struggled to sit up, and tried to focus on what was going on as much as she could, considering how concussed as she was, but failed utterly, flopping back on her side to watch the action from a horizontal position.
A man in a blue spandex costume—two alternating shades of blue, actually—had come to her rescue. He looked vaguely familiar, and for some reason, she associated him with a song.
Or maybe that was just the concussion talking…
"You were just going to shoot her?" The blue clad hero asked, wagging a finger in a disapproving fashion. "No witty repartee? Tsk, tsk."
"Waste of time." Captain Cold fired at the superhero, who dove out of the way of the cold gun's field with mere inches to spare. He rolled, landing in a crouch and pulled a weapon of his own. When fired, it released a weighted net, which covered the villain, but didn't drag him down as anticipated.
Captain Cold didn't struggle with the netting. He merely stood with as much dignity as was in his being, ignoring the net altogether and shoving the muzzle of his cold gun through one of the gaps in the mesh to fire again.
"Gotta hand it to him," the hero said, diving for Captain Cold's ankles and knocking him flat as he fired, narrowly missing the ice beam, "he's one cool customer."
On impact, Captain Cold lost his hold of his weapon. It skittered across the floor, somehow managing to escape the tight web of fiber that surrounded him. He was hardly defeated, though; he clasped his hands together and swung at the hero's head, cracking him in the skull with one powerful blow—the net hardly holding him back at all. "A cold pun. How imaginative."
"Yeah," the other man responded, delivering a punch to Cold's gut, "says the cold themed villain Captain Cold."
Cold answered by elbowing the hero in the throat. "This is why I hate superheroes. You're all obsessed with banter."
"I bet you're not even a real Captain," he continued, throwing a devastating haymaker at Cold's jaw and then slamming his head into the floor.
Captain Cold went still.
"How apt. Knocked you out cold," the hero stood and brushed himself off, "Yuk, yuk, yuk."
The Captain groaned her approval and sputtered a little more blood. He was at her side in a moment, staring down at her from behind massive yellow bug-eye goggles.
"You all right, miss?"
Her eyes focused and unfocused a few times as he swept her arm up and over his shoulder and she muttered, "Yellow Submarine."
"I'll take that as a 'No, I'm quite concussed, thank you for asking, Blue Beetle'," he replied, picking her up with a grunt.
The fog lifted from the Captain's brain almost instantly and it left a sensation not unlike an ice cream headache in its wake. She gripped him a little harder and squeaked, "Blue Beetle? Holy hotcakes! Blue Beetle! Ah ha! Of course. Yellow Submarine. Color. Beatles. Blue Beetle! Don't you see?"
"And that's a 'No, I'm very concussed, thank you for asking'," he breathed, quickly carrying her away from the fray, "Let's find you a shady spot."
"But you're Blue Beetle," she said, grasping the front of his costume with one hand and doing her best to shake him. "That means—"
As if on cue, a shiny, gold man-sized projectile slammed into one of the balcony support pillars, propelled by a shaft of white light, and slumped to the ground. The Captain's eyes registered the blue star on his chest and the words were out before she even had time to think about them, "Booster Gold!"
"Out of the way!" came a scream from above as the last of the blue hanging spheres hit the ground. It landed far away from its intended target—the Icicle—and Al was left swinging from one of the steel cables. "Crap!"
The Icicle lost no time in taking tactical advantage and in seconds, Al's legs were encased in ice. With the added weight, her grip on the cable started to slip and her hands left a bloody trail as she slid down, the twisted metal fibers shredding her palms with every inch of purchase lost. "Double crap!"
"Hang on!" Booster Gold was instantly off the ground and soaring to the rescue, arms outstretched in preparation to catch her. His aim was off by a few inches when she slipped free of the cable, and rather than landing in his arms, she collided with him. Her scream was cut off with the impact and they both crashed to the ground, flattening the Icicle beneath their combined weight. The ice around Al's calves shattered with the impact, sending sparkling shards in every conceivable direction.
After a second to regain his bearings, Booster valiantly fought his way out from under Al and dragged her off to where the Captain had been left to convalesce. He sternly instructed, "Stay here." and then flew off to secure the Icicle.
The two henchgirls turned heroic helpmates wheezed and gasped and looked at each other with weary concern.
"I've been worse," Al replied, rubbing her legs and hoping the feeling would come back soon-ish. "You?"
"My face hurts," the Captain said, wiping the blood from her face with her sleeve.
"Be glad your face didn't get frostbite."
The Captain nodded, then stopped suddenly, realization dawning as the last bits of brain fuzziness seemed to clear. "Hang on…"
"What?" Al asked distractedly, rubbing her shins. Only when she looked up to see the look on the Captain's face did she stop and stare. "Oh, smeg, the wheels in her head are turning. I can see them."
"Okay, let's do some math here."
"Math isn't your strong suit when you don't have a head injury—do you really want to risk it with one?"
The Captain continued as though she hadn't been interrupted. "Guy—redheaded bowl haircut Guy—is Guy Gardner, a Green Lantern of Earth, right? Right. He just met up with Ted Kord—genius, inventor and personal hero to all people of worth—and some…blonde guy."
"Michael," Al corrected.
"Fine, whatever. A crisis breaks out and suddenly, Guy Gardner, Green Lantern, is joined by Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, who happen to share the same height and build as Ted Kord and Michael what's-his-name. Coincidence?"
Al frowned. "Kord's the Blue, Carter's the Gold? Or vice versa?"
The Captain looked absolutely shell shocked with her own hypothesis and the fact it was likely. "We just inadvertently learned the secret identities of two Justice League members. What do we do with this information?"
"Hell if I know," Al mumbled, wiggling her toes inside her boots, pleased to find that they wiggled on command.
"We…we could, you know…use this. Villainously, I mean. We are technically affiliated with the wrong side of the law…"
"I know I'm playing against type here, but they just saved our lives."
"Yeah, but we're the hive of scum. We're supposed to go for the jugular, aren't we?" The Captain turned away from Al and asked the air, "Techie, what do you think? Techie?"
Al looked on with disconnected interest as yet another realization washed over the Captain. "Techie's not here."
"O…kay," Al said, reaching out and gently probing the rapidly rising goose egg in the center of the Captain's forehead. "No more thinky for the Captain."
A scream pulled the henchgirl's attention away and she leaned around the pillar to survey what was left of the fight. Coldsnap was getting his ass thoroughly handed to him by Blue Beetle, the Icicle was being handcuffed by Booster Gold and Captain Cold was still knocked out, but Killer Frost had somehow managed to grab Techie and was using her as a human shield, threatening to slice her jugular with a particularly jagged chunk of ice. Techie was in no shape to fight back, bloodied and bruised, and was thus left at the mercy of Guy Gardner's damsel saving skills.
"Oh, she's screwed," Al muttered.
"Nothing, Captain," she dismissed. "Just sit still and don't think too hard."
Al watched and winced in preparation for the worst, but—though he took a few sizable chunks of ice to the head in the process, one so large that it might have caused a mild concussion—Guy managed to rip Techie away from Killer Frost and slam the villainess into the nearest wall, knocking her goofy. Blue Beetle—who had neatly dispatched with Coldsnap—was on her in a moment, caging her wrists behind her back and dosing her with something that was presumably meant to keep her powers inactive. Meanwhile, Techie collapsed, only to be scooped up by Guy seconds later.
"I am terribly sorry," Guy said genuinely, picking her up as though she weighed no more than a feather. "Are you hurt?"
Al started from her place by the pillar and Techie looked at him like he was from another planet. "Who are you and what have you done with Guy Gardner?"
"Don't be silly, I am Guy Gardner." He smiled at her briefly and then made full eye contact. His breath caught and he suddenly said: "Has anyone ever told you that you have simply the loveliest brown eyes?"
Techie stared at him for a few seconds more and then glanced around, sharing a puzzled look with Al, who shrugged in confusion. "This doesn't look like the mirror universe." She looked back at Guy, who graced her with a surprised, but pleased look. "And you don't have a sinister goatee."
"Al—Alice?" Techie shouted over Guy's shoulder as he floated over to where her friends were flopped on the ground. "Has there been a rip in the fabric of space-time in the past few minutes?"
"Not that I know of," she replied. "Why?"
"You're absolutely sure?" Techie glanced around herself, sliding from Guy's arms with ease, but grimacing when she touched down on the ankle she had twisted in the fall on Coldsnap. "Ah ha, maybe you'd better keep carrying me, for now."
He obligingly swept her back into his arms.
"I'm sure," Al answered. "Why?"
"Mirror Universes and sinister goatees?" Guy asked blissfully. "Do you too know the poetry of Leonard Nimoy's soul?"
Techie stared at him strangely. "That's why."
"Yeah," Al admitted with puzzlement. "That's…certainly something."
Dragging the four villains into a heap and tying them together, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold shared a knowing look. "Head injury?"
"He took a coffee pot or twelve to the head. How'd you know?" Techie asked. "Oh, God, is there precedent for this?"
"Just one second." Blue Beetle picked up one of the hardcover books lying at his feet—an orphan from one of the overturned book carts—squeezed one eye shut, stuck his tongue out as he took aim, and then drew back his arm and let fly. The book went careening through the air and thumped Guy squarely on the head. He dropped Techie, who landed with an 'Oof', and collapsed.
"Wow," Al said with genuine astonishment. "That was really impressive."
"Really impressive book abuse," the Captain muttered, drunkenly leaning around the pillar to watch.
"What the hell did you do that for?" Techie squawked, reaching for Guy instinctively and hauling his head into her lap, where she could survey the damage. "You could kill a man with The Stand!"
Guy came to the moment her fingers brushed his hair out of his face, swinging his fists blindly. Techie took one to the face and hit the floor. "Awright, who's the wiseguy what thumped me on the—" he sat up and looked around, catching sight of Techie, glaring up at him with the eye he hadn't socked. "Uh…whoops. Sorry, toots."
"You're kidding," Al murmured in disbelief. "He hits his head, it results in a personality change, he hits his head again, he reverts? That's sitcom stuff."
"Welcome to my life," Booster said dispassionately.
Techie slapped Guy's hands away as he tried to help her up—mostly because he was trying to grope her in the process—and leaned up against the pillar next to Al.
"Well, we'd love to stick around and help with the clean-up," Blue Beetle said, surveying the mess that was the airport.
"Yeah, love to," Booster echoed, flipping a paperback romance novel over with his boot.
"But we've got supervillains to gift wrap for the authorities." Blue Beetle shrugged, as if to say 'what can you do?'
"I'm thinking curling ribbon," Booster supplied.
"Maybe a big bow," Blue Beetle added with a grand gesture.
"Something in a red."
"To offset all the blue?"
"If you start callin' each other 'old chum' and pickin' out china patterns," Guy interrupted gruffly, "I think I'll lose my lunch."
Most days that ended with the girls limping away from a fight were considered good days. If they limped away from a fight, it meant two things. One, they had won the day—or at least survived it and two, they hadn't been arrested.
Still, that didn't make the limping particularly fun.
In the airport parking garage, looking for a suitable car to make off with, Al and Techie on either side of the still-wobbly Captain, nursing a variety of injuries in a variety of places, the girls weren't feeling very talkative.
That only lasted until they hobbled into the elevator, though.
Al groaned and slumped against the back wall after pressing the button. "I hereby veto any future attempts at heroism. We get our asses kicked when we play hero."
"As opposed to usual?" Techie asked with obvious exhaustion.
"Villains fight dirty," Al grumbled. "At least when we get kicked around by the heroes, they don't try to kill us."
"Good point," Techie said with another wince as she shifted from one foot to the other. "For my part, I vote we don't have another 'girl's day out' without the Squishykins. We're less likely to get into trouble if we're busy keeping him out of it."
"He's never going to let us live this down, if we tell him, you know. He's going to smirk when we stagger back to the hotel room and give us an enthusiastic 'I can't leave you alone for a minute' lecture."
"Ted gave me his number," the Captain said randomly, still fog-headed enough not to care about appropriate conversational segues. She reached into one pocket and withdrew a piece of paper, crumpling it in front of her face and dropping it carelessly.
"You're not going to call him?"
"He's kind of a cornball." She tried to shrug, but being supported as she was, it looked awkward and unnatural, like her arms were trying to pop off. "Besides, he's a hero. I could never go out with one of the good guys."
Techie and Al looked at each other. "Then why were you flirting with him so hard?"
The Captain not-shrugged again. "I dunno."
"Uh huh," Al said knowingly, "You were jealous."
"What?" Techie asked, fixing the Captain with a questioning look. "Of what?"
"Guy," Al responded with a smirk.
"Psht," the Captain replied glibly. "Yeah, right."
"He started flirting with you and then shoved you aside to get to Techie…so…"
"You flirted with Ted twice as hard to get back at me?" Techie asked, bewildered. "Captain! That's so…so…passive aggressive! And so girly!"
"I don't care that Guy passed me over for you," the Captain said firmly. "I care that passed me over for you for knowing the exact same things I do."
"You're not the only one who knows who Moe Howard is. You're just the only one who yammers on about it."
"I can't be held responsible for that. It doesn't count!"
"Everything counts in large amounts," the Captain said.
Al stared in wonder. "That was almost profound."
"No," she replied, "that was Depeche Mode."
Techie sighed. "It doesn't really matter, anyway. It's not like we're ever going to see any of them ever again."
"And at least the day wasn't a total loss," the Captain continued. "I got something for the Squishykins…"
The elevator stopped with a 'ding!' and the doors slid open, revealing line after line of cars, and in the distance...
"Hey," the Captain squinted and stared hard at a particular blue and white blob on the horizon, "I know I hit my head pretty hard and everything, but am I hallucinating or is that the Frohike?"
"It…oh, crap!" Al, being the most mobile of the three—though not by a whole lot—dropped the Captain's arm and sprinted towards the old, rusted out VW bus.
The old, rusted out VW bus, which was the only vehicle in the entire garage that was slicked over with ice.
Techie and the Captain hobbled as quickly as possible behind Al and came to a screeching halt in front of their frozen boss. Or rather, the frozen van and the shivering, glaring boss inside.
"He's a Squishcicle!" Al exclaimed.
Techie gingerly knocked on the ice and then drew back when he glared the least bit harder. He'd covered himself with the weeks and weeks worth of dirty laundry that had been in the back of the van, one of the Captain's sweaters wrapped around his head like a scarf, leaving only his eyes exposed. It was a wonder he wasn't dead. It was a miracle he wasn't dead.
"We'll get you out!" Al shouted, grabbing the nearest car's windshield wiper and tearing it loose so that she could use it as a makeshift ice pick. Techie followed suit with the other wiper, while the Captain tugged off a side mirror and used it to beat at the layer of ice.
They banged and banged and slammed their tools into the ice until, about a minute later, it cracked and spider webbed, making it possible to peel away the thinnest of the stuff from the driver side door handle. Al grabbed the handle, paying no attention to the gashes in her hands reopening, and braced her boot on the side of the van, using all her weight to pull on the handle. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she was amazed that it didn't just snap off. Meanwhile, Techie and the Captain jabbed at the barrier that coated the seams of the door, to help make the going a little easier for Al.
Between them, they made short work of the door and finally, after much grunting and heave ho-ing, managed to get it open. The Scarecrow lurched out of the van and landed on the cement at their feet, clothes scattering everywhere.
There were lots of questions to be asked, like what he was doing there and why he'd been flash-frozen, but at the moment, all his henchgirls cared about was warming him up. His teeth chattering violently, he was in no position to fight off the cuddles and pets, so he surrendered himself to their collective smothering embrace, content in knowing that later he would gas them all for having gotten him into this predicament in the first place.
"Oh, Squishy," Al began, once his shivering started to subside. "We can't leave you alone for a minute."