Poisoned Soul

By:  Mark J. Hadley

CHAPTER 1:  "Eden"

            The city of Townsville, like any other, has its share of crime problems…but unlike any other, has an exceptional method of law enforcement: the Powerpuff Girls.  Anyone who would openly commit a crime within the city would have to face them, and this spelled disaster for the criminal.  Only the discrete stood half a chance, but even then they found it hard to prevail, for the girls were almost always watching their city, keeping an eye out for even the smallest dangers.

            This afternoon was no different.  The trio flew high above the city skyline, keeping their eyes open for trouble below them, although there seemed no sign of it.  "Nothing," Buttercup complained, peering at the streets.  "Not even a lousy holdup."

            "You know, Buttercup," Blossom remarked, flying near her, "you sound like you want there to be crime."

            "Yeah," Bubbles added.  "What's wrong with no crime?"

            Buttercup shook her head, "Nothin', I guess.  Just boring.  'Sides, this is Townsville…I don't care what anyone says, but crime's always happenin' here, even if we can't see it.  It's just a matter of findin' it."

            "I guess," Blossom agreed.  "Sure seems like a quiet day today though.  I don't think that…"

            "Look!" Bubbles interrupted, pointing at the street below.  Amongst a crowd people, a man was stumbling through them, shoving everyone out of his way.  It was hard to see from the distance, but they could spot a gun in his hand.  Without hesitation, the girls immediately descended from the sky to intercept him.

            The man seemed dazed…he was muttering to no one in particular, "Yes, hahaha!  I've got you now!…demons, you won't have me!"  His arms flailed, knocking over a woman, who stared up at him in shock as he pointed the gun at her with a shaky arm, shouting, "Demon!  Stay back!  Get…away!"

            Before he could fire, though, Blossom flew in a pink flash of light in front of him, snatching up the frightened lady from the ground just in time.  The man seemed oblivious to the fact that his target was no longer in front of him, and fired three shots from his gun at the pavement where the lady was a moment ago.  Bubbles flew across him quickly, kicking the gun out of his hand, and Buttercup finished the job with a punch to the man's jaw.  He slammed into a wall, and slumped to the ground, out cold.

            The crowed, safe once again, cheered the girls as they landed in front of the unconscious man.  Bubbles approached him, saying, "I wonder what he was doing…"

            "The guy was nuts, Bubbles," Buttercup answered.  "Had to be.  Who pulls a gun in the middle of a crowd for no reason?"

            Blossom knelt down next to the man, examining him closely, and blinked in surprise as she noticed something sticking out of one of his pockets.  She carefully removed it, and held it up to examine it more closely.  It was a small metal cylinder, barely an inch tall, with a tiny spray nozzle on the top.  The cylinder had a purple stripe running around its center, but otherwise, it was featureless.

            "What the heck is that?" Buttercup asked.

            "I don't know," Blossom replied, "but I think we'd better get this to the professor to find out…"

*          *            *

            Within the airtight container, the professor skillfully maneuvered a pair of tiny robotic arms, one of them holding the cylinder tightly.  He and the girls watched through the glass of the container as the second arm carefully pressed the nozzle on the top.  When they did, a small but thick cloud of purple gas hissed out from it.  It lingered in the air for a moment, and then started to dissipate.

            It was enough for the computer to begin its analysis, however.  The professor examined the readout on the screen as the chemical compounds began to scroll past.  "Hmm…there's a thick concentration of…ahh, I see…"

            "What is it?" Blossom asked.

            "I'm not sure exactly," the professor said.  "It's a powerful hallucinogenic of some sort, but the chemical compound is unfamiliar…"

            "Halloosina…?" Bubbles tried to say.

            The professor explained, "It's a drug.  It looks like it's meant to be inhaled…there appear to be some powerful narcotics that take effect if it is.  I'm not even sure what effect it will have, it appears to be chaotic and highly unpredictable…"

            Drugs, Blossom thought…the girls were familiar with the concept, having heard about them from school, TV, and a lot of different places.  However, it wasn't something that they had encountered in Townsville yet…there just never was a drug problem here.  "This is not good," she said.  "Girls, we need to find out who's selling this stuff and put them out of business fast, before more of it starts showing up!"

            "Yeah," Bubbles said, "'cause this stuff is really bad, isn't it?"

            Looking over the results some more, the professor said, "Very.  It's highly addictive…you said you found it on someone?  If they've been using it, they'll probably need rehabilitation badly."

            "Well, he definitely was," Blossom agreed.  "He wasn't in his right mind at all."

            Buttercup thought for a moment, then said, "Hey, maybe this creep can tell us where he got it from…"

            "Good idea, Buttercup!  C'mon, girls, let's hurry to the police station!" Blossom ordered.  The three of them rushed out of the lab, as the professor returned to studying the chemical.  Perhaps there's a clue in its composition that will help us discover where it originated from, he thought.  We'll need all the data on it we can…

*          *            *

            At the police station, the girls were let in to the cells, to speak with the man.  He was huddled up in a corner of his cell, staring out quietly from it.  Blossom flew face to face with him and said, "All right, speak up…what is that stuff we found on you, and where did you get it from?"

            "I…I c-can't tell you…" the man said.  He was shivering slightly.

            "You'd better," Buttercup said, punching one fist into her other, "if you know what's good for you…"  Blossom shot her a look…she never liked when Buttercup muscled info out of people, but as long as she didn't follow through with it, she figured it was all right.

            The man looked up at Buttercup…his eyes were pleading, "Just let me out…please…I don't have anything to do with this, I swear…and I…I need…"

            "What?  You need what?" Blossom asked.

            Sweating, the man said, "I-it's called Eden, okay?  Now will you let me go?  Please?!"

            "Eden?" Bubbles repeated.

            Buttercup glared at him and asked, "Who gave it to you?"

            "I dunno his name!" he stammered.  "Honest!  I-I just…I meet him in an alley, the one down on Fourth Street…can't you please let me out?"

            "Sorry," Blossom said, "but you know we can't do that.  We…"

            The man grabbed the side of his head and shouted, "No!  I can't…I've gotta…"  He trailed off and slumped against the wall, sobbing.  The girls looked at each other sadly for a few moments, then slowly left the cell.  They got what they came for, but also gave them a look into something else: the effect this drug had on people.

            "Man, did you see that guy?" Buttercup exclaimed as they flew out from the station.  "He was a wreck…"

            Bubbles nodded, "Yeah, he looked awful…"

            "All right, focus," Blossom said.  "We're heading right for Fourth Street.  Let's take a position on the rooftop across from the alley, and keep an eye out for anyone suspicious.  If we spot whoever's pushing this stuff, we'll take them in, got it?"

            "Got it!" both of the other girls said.  Blossom smiled confidently and thought, No problem…they won't be able to escape the watchful eyes of the Powerpuff Girls…

*          *            *

            "Sir, the first shipment has been set out," the voice on the other end of the phone said.

            The man behind the desk leaned back in his chair and spoke into the telephone, "Excellent.  Townsville was the perfect location for us…no other competition."

            "Yes sir," came the reply.  "There is another problem, though, sir…"

            "What would that be?" he asked.

            "Well, in gathering information about the town, we seem to have overlooked that there are superheroes…"

            The man sat back up in his chair, "Really?"

"Yes, they're called the Powerpuff Girls."

"Hmm…this could be bad for business…"  He scratched his chin for a moment, then asked, "The next shipment has arrived?"

            "Yes sir,"

            "Good.  Have it distributed.  But tell them to be cautious…get them pictures of these superheroes and tell them to avoid contact with them."  He hung up the phone and leaned up on the desk.  Superheroes, he thought.  Maybe there's a reason that there's no other drug traffic in Townsville…the idea of a town protected by superheroes probably drove most of them away.  Well, I think it's still possible…Eden is strong enough, and once it's been distributed widely enough, not even superheroes will be able to completely get rid of our presence…

*          *            *

            "How long are we gonna wait?" Buttercup complained from her position on the rooftop.  "We've been here for an hour!"

            Blossom continued to peer over the edge of the building and said, "Take it easy, Buttercup…this is a stakeout, you know.  It might take some time."

            Buttercup sighed and sat down on the ground, folding her arms.  Bubbles watched the people on the street, and near the alley, and asked, "Blossom, how will we even know them when we see them?"

            "We won't…just keep a sharp eye out for anything that looks suspicious," Blossom answered.

            "Like that?" Bubbles said, pointing at the street beneath the building they were on.  A car had just pulled up to the curb and parked, and four men got out from it.  They glanced around for a few moments, nodded at each other, then split up in different directions, one of them heading into the alley they were watching.

            Buttercup got back up and watched, frowning, "Could that be them?"

            "Could be…" Blossom agreed.  She watched the man enter the alley and lean up against the wall, checking his watch.  A few moments later, a nervous-looking woman wandered down the sidewalk, glancing around several times, before slipping into the ally.  The man nodded as if he were expecting her.  Blossom watched closely and saw the woman withdraw an envelope, slipping it to the man, who in turn passed something back to her…one of the cylinders.

            "That's them!" Bubbles exclaimed.

            Blossom nodded, "All right…I'll take care of this one.  Bubbles, Buttercup…you two follow the other ones…"

            "But there's four!"

            "Two of 'em are heading in the same direction," Buttercup said, grinning.  "I'll take 'em both."

            "Sounds good.  Okay, let's do it!" Blossom ordered.  The three of them shot off from the rooftop in separate directions…Blossom headed straight for the alley.  The pusher spotted her at the last moment, and dropped the envelope, turning to run…the woman he was selling to backed up against the wall in surprise.

            Blossom didn't let the pusher get far…before he could escape from the alley, she rammed into him shoulder-first from behind, knocking him to the ground.  Before he could get back up, she had his arms pinned to his back, "Sorry, but you're not going anywhere…"  Well, that's one down, she thought.  I hope the other girls are catching up with theirs…

*          *            *

            Bubbles flew over a crowd of people on the sidewalk, narrowing her eyes as she attempted to locate the pusher she saw leaving the car.  I know he's in the crowd somewhere, she thought, but where?  She kept an eye out near the edge of the people, just in case he tried to slip down another street.

            Decided to fly lower, she hovered just over the crowd…as she did, she spotted someone shoving their way past some people.  He saw me! she thought, and headed straight for the disturbance.  She flew in front of him and shouted, "All right, I've got you!"

            It wasn't him, though…it was some other criminal that had just stolen someone's purse in the crowd.  He was shaking, and stammered, "S-sorry…I-I didn't mean to take the purse, honest!"

            Bubbles sighed, and pulled the purse from his hands…she spotted a lady not far from him that the purse undoubtedly belonged to, and tossed it back to her.  She wasn't thinking about this, however…she was still trying to figure out where the pusher had gone to…

            A moment later, she had her answer.  The man darted out of the side of the crowd, crossing the street for an alley on the opposite side.  Bubbles gasped, and quickly picked up the purse snatcher, saying, "Sorry about this!"  With a quick fling, she threw him in the pusher's direction…the two collided and collapsed into a pile, sliding to a stop on the far sidewalk.

            Bubbles dusted off her hands, "Cool!  Two crooks in one throw!"  She went over to collect them, briefly wondering what kind of luck Buttercup was having with her own two crooks…

*          *            *

            One of the pushers lay unconscious on the ground near the entrance to a small parking garage.  Buttercup, hovering just over him, said, "And stay down!  Now…where'd your buddy go?"  She looked around, and saw a shadow darting around the corner inside the garage.  Nice try, but I see you! she thought.  Probably trying to get out of the back exit, are ya?

            She circled around one of the corridors inside the garage, to cut him off before he reached the exit.  She waited for him, hovering in place and arms folded, as he appeared around the corner.  He fell back in shock to the ground when he spotted her, scrambling backwards to try to get away.

            "Sorry, pal, end of the road," she said, hovering closer to him.  "Either give up, or I'll have to rough ya up…"  He didn't answer, but rolled over and started crawling back the way he came.  Buttercup shrugged, "Fine…" and flew towards him, pulling her arm back and preparing to give him a punch.

            Before she could, however, he suddenly swiveled back towards her, thrusting something out at arm's length between the two of them…she barely had time to recognize it as one of the cylinders before he sprayed a cloud of purple gas from it, right in her face.

            "What th…*cough* *cough*…"  She clenched her eyes shut, coughing as the gas filled her lungs.  Taking advantage of the distraction, the man got to his feet and took off.  Buttercup opened one eye and growled, "All right…*cough*…that's it!  You're goin' d--…uhhh….whh…"

            She suddenly felt lightheaded, and sank to the ground, landing on her feet.  A warm feeling surged from the center of her body; outwards from her chest until it totally enveloped her.  It was a soft, peaceful feeling…she felt woozy, and tried to open her eyes, but when she did, her vision was all blurry.  Everything was surrounded in rainbow-like colors.  Her legs trembled, and she fell off her feet, landing on her back on the ground.  The warmth persisted, and she suddenly found herself giggling at it.

            Part of her knew the pusher was getting away, but she didn't care.  She had never felt so relaxed…like she had just nestled herself into the world's most comfortable bed.  So what if he was getting away?  Everything was perfect.  She let out a sigh of contentment and just let the feelings continue…

*          *            *


            The voice seemed so distant…Buttercup tried to open her eyes, but the light stabbed into them like icicles.  She clenched them tighter and thought, Go away…


            It sounded closer that time, and she recognized it as Bubbles.  Forcing her eyes open half-way, she realized she was lying on the ground, staring up at the ceiling of the parking garage.  Blossom and Bubbles were peering over her from above, and Blossom said, "Are you okay?  What happened?"

            "Ughh…" Buttercup groaned, sitting up and holding her head.  "I…dunno…"  She tried to focus, but she felt too weak.  Her whole body was sore, every last muscle.

            "Whatever hit you," Blossom said, "it must have been strong.  Maybe these guys are tougher than we thought…"

            "Or lucky…" Bubbles added.

            Buttercup managed to get to her feet with the girls' help, and said, "Yeah…I guess…"

            Blossom nodded, "Well, that one guy got away, but we got three of them.  Maybe after we talk to them, we can figure out who's supplying them with Eden.  We left them with the cops, so we should be getting home…it's late.  You okay to fly?"

            "I'm okay…" Buttercup replied.  She flew up with the two of them, although it took some effort.  She had never felt this sore before, not even after a monster fight.  She was too tired to figure it out right now…rather than waste the mental effort, she decided just to rest and try to sort out it all out tomorrow.  Right now, she just wanted to climb into a warm bed and get some sleep.  A nice warm bed, she thought.  I'm so cold…