To Teach His Own
By: Mark J. Hadley
* * *
Blossom slowly set the receiver back down on the hotline, as the other girls watched, none of them moving, as they thought about what they had just heard. "I can't believe it," Blossom finally said. "No ransom…no leads…nothing. He's just doing this because he can…"
"We've gotta find him!" Buttercup exclaimed. "And when we do, we're gonna beat him! He can't win again, not this time!"
Blossom nodded, but said, "We don't know where he's at, though…"
"And…" Bubbles said, crying a little, "…and what about the professor? He could be anywhere too! Maybe he hid him someplace else…"
"No, why would he do that?" Buttercup asked.
"So that we don't find both of them?" Bubbles pointed out.
Blossom waved her hands and said, "Okay, listen…we have to come up with a plan here. We can either sit around waiting for the next time Dr. Neutron decides to attack the city, or we can continue looking for his hideout. I think we should go for the hideout; that'd be our best chance to defeat him."
"Right," Buttercup agreed. "Let's go, then!"
All three of them flew out from the house, heading for Townsville. "Where do we look first?" Bubbles asked during the flight to the city.
"At the places we fought him," Blossom told her. "We'll see which direction he flew off from each time…from the three positions in the city, it should give us a general idea of where his hideout is, and we can search from there. I'll go to the first site…Buttercup, you take the second site, and Bubbles, head for the third."
They split up as they approached the skies over Townsville, each heading to a different part of the city. Blossom reached the area where they first fought Dr. Neutron and glanced around. She spotted the sidewalk that she remembered being incapacitated on, and turned to look in the direction that she had seen him fly away. Bingo, she thought. Now to let the other girls know I'm ready…
Blossom gained some altitude, appearing over the rooftops but keeping herself pointed in that direction. Way off in the distance, she spotted the other two lining up similarly. She waved, then started flying forward, and the other girls started moving as well.
The angles started to bring them closer to each other, although at a steep angle so that their paths didn't cross yet…they looked around as they flew, now close enough to talk to each other. Buttercup said, "Hey, wait a second…"
"…aren't we…" Bubbles started to say.
"…on our way out of Townsville?" Blossom finished. Sure enough, below them the edge of the city was passing underneath them. They were now over the suburban area, and there were no longer any skyscrapers to be found. They all noticed two things as their paths finally crossed: they were over a grove of trees, and finally, they were only a block away from home.
"Wow…" Buttercup remarked. "You mean, he was this close to home the whole time?"
"Search those trees!" Blossom ordered. "Maybe he's got an underground hideout somewhere, and if he does, I want to know where!"
Bubbles flew down near the edge of the trees and said, "I've got a better idea…" As the other girls watched, she cupped her hands next to her mouth and started chirping, then making little chittering sounds…she went through several more animal calls, then waited. A few seconds later, birds, squirrels, rabbits and other animals appeared at the edge of the woods, and she quickly started 'talking' with them.
Buttercup slapped a hand to her forehead and sighed, "Aw man, not again…"
"No, she's right," Blossom said. "That's the fastest way to search through all the trees. Watch!" As they looked down at all the animals below, they turned and headed back amongst the trees, all of them heading in different directions and searching carefully through every part of the woods. After only a little while, they all started to regroup and head back to where Bubbles was.
She listened to them 'talk', then flew back up to the other girls, saying, "They couldn't find anything. They searched everywhere, but there's no sign of a hideout."
"Very peculiar," Blossom remarked, then gasped, "He must live in the area! He probably went into the woods to change his disguise unseen. But who lives around here that he could be?"
"Mr. Smith?" Bubbles asked, pointing to the Smith's house, not far from them.
Buttercup shook her head, "No way. He's not that bright. If it's someone that lives near us, though, then it'd make sense that he'd know all our moves…he's probably spying on us."
"Yes, but who…" Blossom began. She was interrupted by the sound of an explosion in the distance. "Dr. Neutron! He must be attacking again…let's go!" The three of them left the woods and headed off in the direction of the sound as fast as they could go.
* * *
Dr. Neutron hovered above the street, held aloft by the jets that were on the end of a pair of delta wings now fixed to his back. In his arms was a rather large weapon which he had just used to launch an explosive into the air. This will get their attention, he thought. They'll be here in no time…
He was right, for in the next instant, the Powerpuff Girls arrived on the scene. They were looking very angry, and Blossom pointed at him, shouting, "Dr. Neutron! Tell us where the professor is, now!"
"It won't be that simple," Dr. Neutron cackled back. "If you can defeat me in combat, I will tell you where your professor is…which means, you'll never see him again!"
Blossom tried to look through his mask with her x-ray vision while he spoke, but couldn't. Whatever his armor is made of, she thought, it must be something we can't see through. He must have known this! But how? How does one person know so much about us? This is hopeless! How are we going to beat someone that seems to know more about us than we do?! A glance over to the other girls made her realize that they were probably thinking the same thing.
"I'm waiting," Dr. Neutron said. "Are you going to just float there, or are you going to fight me?"
Unexpectedly to him, however, the girls gave troubled expressions rather than combat-ready ones. Tears came to Bubbles' eyes, and she cried, "We…we can't…please, give him back…"
Blossom pleaded, "Please…he's not important to your plans…but he means the world to us…"
Even Buttercup looked saddened, "We'll do anything…just let him go…"
Dr. Neutron was unprepared for this…his heart ached to see them react this way, but he forced himself to call back, "Fools! You will fight me this instant!" He raised his weapon and started firing beams of energy from it at them. The three of them dodged, but none of them made any kind of attack back. Dr. Neutron gritted his teeth, "I said fight!"
"No," Blossom said, suddenly peering oddly at him and thinking, This doesn't seem right somehow… "Why is it so important that we fight? What are you planning?"
"Never mind that!" Dr. Neutron said angrily. "If you don't fight me, then I will be forced to destroy you…"
"Destroy us?" Buttercup said, almost with a laugh. "So far, you haven't even hurt us."
Blossom thought about that, and slowly said, "Yeah…she's right! All your attacks so far have been to stun us, capture us, or knock us out. Mojo wasn't half as hard to fight as you, but he still used lethal force. You don't want to destroy us, or else you would be doing the same. So you're obviously planning something, and I want to know what!"
"I will tell you nothing," Dr. Neutron countered. "And there is still no way you can defeat me."
Buttercup grinned, and said, "Think again. Blossom…Plan Beta-Cappa-13?"
With a nod, Blossom smiled as well, "Sure, perfect time for it." As they approached, Dr. Neutron thought, Uh oh…they must have come up with this plan earlier when I was out…I've never heard of it. I'd better be on my guard. He made sure his forcefield was active, then gripped the barrel of his weapon, ready for anything.
Blossom and Buttercup suddenly both started firing on the same spot with their eyebeams…judging by their reactions, they were putting everything they had into it. The shield flared up and kept them out, of course, but then they started moving the beams in opposite directions, and a small hole in the field opened up between them. It wasn't very big, but it was just big enough that Bubbles managed to fly near it and unleash one of her sonic screams.
The intense sound waves ripped through the weapon in his hands causing it to break apart, and the forcefield was disrupted as well, deactivating with a loud, electrical *snap* sound. He suddenly realized he was helpless, and dove down, drawing two pistols from his belt. By the time he had lifted them to fire, though, the three had already split up in opposite directions, diving down at a curved angle.
They met up again just underneath Dr. Neutron, mere feet above the ground. Buttercup and Bubbles each grabbed hold of one of his arms from behind, pinning them against his back. Blossom took advantage of this opening before he could recover, and swung a couple punches to his chest. His armor cracked under the impact, and she followed it up with a punch to the jaw.
Dr. Neutron's mask was shattered from the blow, and it landed on the street in pieces. Blossom could only gape as she saw the now-unmasked villain, and the other girls were speechless as well. "Pr—…Professor?" Blossom stammered.
They set him down on the ground and hovered in front of him. Rubbing his jaw, he forced a smile and said, "Hello, girls…uhh, I can explain…"
"Now, I get it!" Buttercup said with a frown. "No wonder you had all those powerful devices and stuff!"
"And no wonder you knew everything about us!" Blossom added, equally upset. "All our plans, and everything…"
Even Bubbles looked furious, as she shouted, "You've got some 'splaining to do!"
"Well, it's like this…" the professor told them. "You've been so lax in your superhero training for a while, and you just weren't trying to improve yourselves any. This worried me, because although you could handle just about anything that the villains were throwing at you, I knew that someday, a villain could come along that you weren't strong enough to defeat. That day could spell disaster for Townsville, and for yourselves as well, and that's something I never wanted to see…"
Removing the rest of his cracked armor and setting it aside, he continued, "I realized that you needed an incentive to train harder, and so I created Dr. Neutron, a villain with advanced technology that knew your every move. Faced with an opponent you couldn't defeat, you would be forced to train harder, until you could eventually beat him. By fabricating the villain myself, I knew that it would be a safe situation for you to face, so that if you really come up against someone like Dr. Neutron one day, you can defeat him safely."
"But…" Blossom protested. "…but why not tell us?"
"Because," the professor answered, "if you knew that it was just me, you wouldn't have tried as hard. I wanted you to put everything you had into it. That's also why I didn't want to help you myself. I admit, I wasn't planning on having to 'kidnap' myself, but you left me with no choice, asking me for assistance. That would have defeated the purpose of this training exercise as well."
"What about Townsville?" Bubbles pointed out. "You were attacking it…"
The professor nodded, "I had the Mayor's permission, and I was careful not to damage anything that I didn't already have the okay for." He noticed they still looked troubled, and he said, "Look, I did this for your own good, girls. Imagine what would have happened if someone like Dr. Neutron came along, and you were as unprepared for him as you were with me…he probably wouldn't have gone easy on you, either."
"Yeah," Buttercup said reluctantly, "that's true…"
"But now," the professor continued, "you've improved. You worked hard to find a way around my defenses and managed to defeat me. Not only that, but I could see a vast improvement of your fighting skills as our battles went on. So it was a success! I'm sorry for the methods, but you have to admit that it worked."
Blossom slowly smiled and said, "Hey, I guess you're right…we really pulled it all together there, didn't we? You didn't have to scare us like that, though…"
Nodding, the professor said, "I am sorry about that…I just wish there was some way I could make it up to you…"
The girls looked at each other, exchanging grins, and all three of them said, "Welllll…."
* * *
The girls sat around the kitchen table, each of them eating a huge slice of chocolate cake. They didn't stay huge for long, though, because the girls made short work of them. "Next!" they all called out together.
The professor hurried over to the table with three more slices of the cake, and the girls dug into them. Looking back over at the counter next to the sink, he sighed at the stack of dishes that had built up, not to mention empty cake trays. "How can three little girls eat so much cake?" he wondered aloud. Shaking his head, he decided that he'd better get back to baking…
And so, once again, the day was saved, thanks to the Powerpuff Girls!