CHAPTER ONE: I'VE PUT A SPELL ON YOU
Surfer's Paradise Resort, Sunset Beach, B.C., August 2, 2010
The noon sun was high over Sunset Island, filtering golden rays through the atrium windows of Surfer's Paradise's Lobbyquarium, catching on the blue waters of the huge fish-tank in the middle of the lobby where the shark and lone yellow fish swam…
…which did absolutely nothing to alleviate the boredom.
Sitting at his post at the check-in desk, 17-year-old Johnny St. James, the hotel's self-acclaimed Front Desk Guy, in his uniform t-shirt and shorts, let his face fall to the desk with a groan. '3 hours, and not a single check-in…somebody kill me now…'
Glancing up, Johnny managed a weary smile. "Hey, Emma."
In her serving-wench-style uniform, with a bandana over her long, ruby hair, 16-year-old Emma Mackenzie smiled back. "Is your shift almost over?"
Johnny groaned. "One hour left."
Emma pouted sympathetically. "Awww…" she said, before brightening. "Lo and I were just about to grab a sesh with Ben, Fin, Gwen, and Kevin!" She sighed. "I think I've got a handle on my cutbacks, but I am completely lost when it comes to flip-tricks!"
Johnny smiled. "Hey, if you can wait an hour, I'd be happy to give you some pointers," he offered. "I know a couple of things about 'em."
Emma beamed. "Really?" she exclaimed. "Thanks, Johnny! You're such an awesome friend!"
Johnny's smile collapsed. "Sure."
Oblivious, Emma continued. "Of course, this might all be moot, if there aren't any waves; you remember how flat the ocean was, yesterday?"
Johnny had to nod. "Yeah. Total doldrums."
Emma shrugged. "Well, let's just hope they're back, today!" she said. "Anyway, see you out there!"
As Emma headed off, Johnny waved back, half-heartedly. "Yeah; see you out there."
Friend. He hated that word…
"Dude! Zoned again?"
Suppressing another groan, Johnny turned to greet Reef and Broseph, both in uniform. "You guys saw?"
Grinning, the spike-haired surf-instructor nodded. "You know it, bra!" he said. "And it still makes me laugh!"
Frowning, Broseph elbowed him. "Hey, ease up, man," the afro-headed youth said. "Dude's in enough pain as it is."
Johnny sighed. "I must be some kind of masochist."
Broseph raised a hand. "No worries, bro: we don't judge a guy's religion."
"What? No!" Johnny said. "That just means that…you know what? Never mind." He dropped his head on the desk, again. "It still doesn't solve my girl-problem."
Glancing up, Johnny spotted his friend and fellow senior, 17-year-old Tyler "Ty" Ridgemount, in his usual surf-shorts and t-shirt. "Nothing, Ty."
Reef chuckled. "Johnny's just got a little red-haired obsession on his mind."
Running a hand through his short copper hair in thought, Ty blinked, before he caught on. "Wait, are you hot for that new DR girl? Ella?"
Johnny frowned. "It's Emma, Ty."
Broseph nodded. "Poor guy's marooned neck-deep in the Friend Zone."
Ty winced. "Oh, ouch! Dude, I am sorry!" he said. "There's…there's just no going back from that!"
"We know! That's what we keep telling him!" Reef said. "Seriously, Front Desk Guy; move on, already! If some chick isn't taking the hook, then land a hotter one!"
Johnny rolled his eyes. "Thank you, Angler Dave."
Ty started to grin. "In that case, you're in luck!" he began. "There's a rave going down at the Quintuple Overhead, tonight; you guys in?"
Reef's eyes bugged out. "Dude! That's the most exclusive club in Sunset Beach! They don't let anybody in!"
Ty shrugged. "I know a guy who knows a guy." His grin grew. "I have it on good authority that many fine honeys will be in attendance, and it would be against the Grom Code to leave my bros out in the cold…"
Johnny's tone was deadpan. "Translation: he needs us to distract the ugly-girl-slash-crazy-girl-slash-guy-disguised-as-a-girl while he goes for the real hottie."
Ty groaned. "How many times do I have to apologize for that?"
"It was a college dude, Ridgemount; pulling a pledge-week prank on whatever poor local schmuck he could find," Johnny deadpanned. "And, thanks to you, he found one."
Reef and Broseph burst out laughing. "Dude!" Reef guffawed. "And…and you still have the guts to…to show your face..?"
As Johnny glowered at him, Ty raised his hands. "I didn't know, Johnny!" he defended. "I was as surprised as you were..!"
"NOBODY was as surprised as I was, Tyler!"
Broseph tried to stifle his laughter. "Dude…that…that's just so wrong, bro."
"Yeah, it was; hence my reluctance to party with this kook," Johnny grumbled, before his expression collapsed into depressed resignation. "I think I'm just going to have to face it, guys; as far as girls are concerned – especially Emma – I'm a lost cause," he continued. "There's just no girl out there…for…me..?"
As he spoke, he'd glanced across the lobby…prompting his voice to trail off, as he beheld the utter vision walking towards his desk. Ty, Reef, and Broseph weren't far behind, mirroring his bug-eyed, open-mouth gaping.
She was fairly tall, and supermodel-slim, blessed with ample, delightfully perky curves bouncing behind a black-rimmed, magenta bikini, contrasting against her moon-white skin. Below a delicate, aristocratic nose, twin moist, blossom-pink lips curved in a flirtatious smile, her eyes hidden behind mauve-lensed shades, while her hair – not red, or brown, or blonde, but a luminous, lustrous silver – trailed long down her back, over delicate shoulders, to almost reach her sandaled feet, dotted with stars on her dainty toes…and around her waist was a fanny-pack, slipped around so that the pack itself rested over what had to be the most perfect booty in existence…
…and she was heading towards him.
Johnny instantly forgot how to breathe.
Ty recovered first. "Uh…h-hi, I'm Ty; Ty Ridgemount…"
The vision fixed him with a disarming smile. "Yes, I'm sure you are," she dismissed. "If you'll excuse me, but I have to check in..?"
Ty's smile collapsed. "Oh. Right. Sorry."
As she walked past, Reef managed to close his mouth. "Uh…guh?"
The vision just sighed, rolling her eyes, before she turned towards Johnny…and smiled. "Can I book a room, handsome?"
'Handsome! Handsome! She called me handsome!' Johnny tried to stay cool amidst his mental cartwheels. "Uh…well, let's see, now!" Opening the bookings screen, he pored over the readout…and frowned. "Uh…sorry, miss, but we don't have any openings, right now."
At the silver-haired beauty's adorable pout, Johnny instantly checked the check-out data, and amended his statement. "B-But if you wanted to stick around for an hour or so, one of our guests will be checking out; I can book you that room, right now, if you'd like!"
He was rewarded by a dazzling smile, revealing a set of perfectly white teeth. "Oh, you're a doll! Thank you!" she cooed.
Johnny shrugged, fighting to keep himself from blushing. "Oh, well…here at Surfer's Paradise, we aim to please!" The girl giggled, as she reached for her shades…and lifted them up.
Johnny was immediately greeted by two glittering magenta gems, set in twin pairs of silky dark eyelashes, cast in a perfect face. Meeting his gaze, the girl smiled again. "You really saved me…Jonathan?"
Johnny froze. "Huh? H-How'd you..?"
The girl giggled again. "Your name-tag, silly."
"Oh! Right!" Johnny chuckled nervously. "You…you can just call me Johnny…or Front Desk Guy; everybody does!"
The girl's hands moved behind her. "Charmina." She batted her eyes…which Johnny could have sworn were glowing. "You can call me Mina."
Johnny was surprised steam wasn't shooting out of his ears, because he was sure his brain was boiling; the sight of her incisor-teeth trailing over her elegant pink mouth didn't help. "I-I'll remember that!"
"I hope so." Charmina's smile grew. "I know what you're thinking about."
Johnny tried to recover. "Oh…just wondering about my schedule for the week."
Mina pouted. "All work and no play?" she asked. "I don't believe that; you must know all the parties going on, around here."
Reef tried to jump in. "You mean like the one at Quintuple Overhead, tonight? You should totally come!" he said. "We're all going to be there!"
Mina ignored him, her glittering pink gaze fixed on Johnny. "Will you be there?"
Johnny gulped. "Uh…I don't know; I don't usually go to those kind of things…"
"Hmm…neither do I, to be honest," Charmina confessed, a pretty rosy tint crossing her face. "But I could be persuaded; could you?"
Johnny froze. "Uh…"
Mina smiled, waving. "Hope to see you there, cutie!" she cooed, and with that, she walked off.
"DUDE! Did…did I just SEE that?" Reef cried. "That…that uberfox was hitting on Front Desk Guy!"
Broseph grinned. "Nice, bro!" he said, giving Johnny a high-five.
Ty nodded. "Okay, now you have to come with us!"
Johnny was still mildly dazed. "Uh…huh?"
Reef sighed. "Dude. You can either stay here, and mope over a betty that won't pay any attention to you…or you can move on, and go see a betty that will!"
"Yeah, bro; I mean, Emma's cool and all, but if she's not interested…it's kind of a no-brainer," Broseph said. "No offence to Emma."
Johnny cast one forlorn look in the direction Emma had gone. "I'll…I'll think about it, okay?"
Reef groaned. "Okay, bro – your funeral." His eyes narrowed. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we're heading for the Office before Fin hogs all the waves!" With that, he raced off, heading towards the beach, while Broseph hurried after him.
Glancing towards his friend, Ty arched an eyebrow. "You're not really going to miss this, are you?"
"You're not going to pull another wingman-routine, are you?" Johnny deadpanned.
Ty sighed. "No, Johnny; no setups, no wingman routines, nothing. Swear to God."
Johnny's hand went to his head. "Look, I'm expecting a call from my Mom, okay? She and Melanie might be stopping by for a few days; once I hear from them, then I can make a decision about tonight!"
Ty smiled. "Your Mom and your baby sis are stopping by? Cool." Shrugging, he turned to go. "Later, man."
"Yeah, later," Johnny replied, as Ty headed off, before he returned to his own thoughts. 'I do still like Emma, but she doesn't even notice me…not like Charmina does...aw, man, what do I do?'
"Surf's up, guys! Let's do this!"
Mere moments after his shift had ended, 16-year-old Ben Tennyson had made for the dilapidated Staff House, switched his tacky uniform for his green-black trunks, grabbed his green longboard with jagged black stripes and hourglass insignia – identical to the crest of the Omnitrix on his wrist – and hauled tail towards the Office.
Moments after, his cousin Gwen, in her blue bikini, carrying her own mauve board, was close behind him, her long ruby hair flowing free from its usual ponytail. "Finally! I thought that maid shift would never end!"
Bringing up the rear, in his black shorts and carrying his own black board, 17-year-old Kevin Levin, Gwen's boyfriend, half-grumbled. "Speak for yourself, babe; Baumer had me cleaning out the freaking pool. I swear, before summer's out, I'm kicking his butt..!"
Grinning, Ben glanced over his shoulder. "You can plan Bummer's butt-whuppin' later, Kevin – right now, we've got waves to shred!"
By then, they had emerged from the forest, racing onto the pristine white sands of the Office, where all the others were waiting at the beach, boards in hand. Spotting his girlfriend, Ben grinned as he came to a stop next to her. "Hey, beautiful."
In her usual pink-white bikini-top and short-shorts, accentuating the curves of her slender, caramel-creamy frame, her long chestnut hair held back by her floral hairclip, 15-year-old Lauren "Lo" Ridgemount smiled back, her amethyst eyes slightly sad. "Hey, baby," she cooed. "Sorry you wasted your time."
Ben shook his head. "Seeing you is never a waste of time."
Lo blushed prettily, before gesturing to the water. "No, but that is."
Ben followed her gesture…and his face collapsed. "Oh."
The water was flat.
Completely, utterly, Saskatchewan-wheat-field flat.
Utterly distraught, Reef dropped to his knees, his hands wringing his hair. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Kevin snorted. "It's still flat?"
In her yellow-violet tankini, Fin nodded grimly, her short blonde bangs shaking as she did. "Three days straight."
Broseph looked ready to cry. "So wrong, dudes."
Emma flinched. "Has it ever been like this?"
Lo shook her head. "Not that I can remember!" she replied. "And it's not just here – all the beaches are like this!"
Gwen arched an eyebrow. "Okay, that's weird."
Ben nodded. "Waves don't just disappear," he agreed. "Something's up."
"Think we should check it out?" Kevin asked. "Jetray oughtta do the trick."
Glancing at the Omnitrix, Ben depressed the twin buttons, popping up the dial. "One little flight out to sea should do it," he answered, twisting the dial until the holographic image of Jetray appeared in green over the dial.
"Just don't fly out too far!" Gwen warned. "If the Omnitrix times out, you could get stranded out there…"
"…if the fall doesn't get me first; I get it, Gwen."
Lo looked worried. "Be careful, Ben."
Ben smiled for her. "I'll be fine, Lauren – compared to other jobs, this is a tourist-cruise!"
"Yeah, whatever, dude; just bring back some choice waves!" Reef said.
Ben grinned, as he raised his hand over the dial. "Consider it done, guys!" he declared. "Hero time!" With that, he slammed the dial down, instantly causing the Omnitrix to cycle up, engulfing him in green light as the Omni-energy remade him at the DNA-level…
…and as the light dimmed, in his place stood a red-yellow, manta-ray-like creature. "Jetray!"
Broseph chuckled. "That never gets old, dudes."
Glancing out to sea, Jetray flapped his membranous wings, floating into the air. "Back in a flash, guys!" he hissed, and was gone in a crimson blur, darting out to sea, a sonic boom echoing behind him.
As he blurred across the water, Jetray's keen eyes stayed trained on the ocean, his fanged expression grim. 'Man, nothing but calm waters all around!' he mentally griped. 'Okay, there's gotta be some waves around here: flat…flat…flat…and more flat! What the heck is going on around – HOLY..!'
His mental expletive died in mid-thought as he glanced up…just in time to pull up from the sudden coastline he was about to run into. Regaining control, he darted up into the clouds, out of sight, before he carefully descended, to take a closer look at what he'd almost crashed into.
The land-mass below him was a miniature archipelago, consisting of five artificially-linked islands, with the central one sporting a tall viewing-tower. Silently, Jetray glided down to perch on top of the tower, and peered out over the islands.
Golf-balls flying every which way.
Jetray did a mild double-take. 'A…a GOLF COURSE?' He couldn't believe it. 'Who the hell builds a golf-course in the middle of the North Pacific?'
A few seconds later, he got his answer, as a familiar tanned, pudgy, captain's-hat-wearing figure walked into view. 'Captain Ron; figures.' He sighed. 'Well, as cheesy as this place is, it's not hurting any…what the..?'
His gaze then fell on the far side of the archipelago…where numerous large waves – triple overhead or more – were crashing against the shores. 'Our waves! THIS is where they got to!' His emerald gaze narrowed, glaring at Ron. 'This eyesore's blocking the waves!'
At that moment, he was sorely tempted to switch to Fourarms or Humongousaur, drop down, and hang a butt-kicking on Ron…but his better sense kiboshed it. 'I'd better report back, first.' With that, he flared his wings, and took off, heading back to Sunset Island.
Within minutes, he reached the Office, gliding back onto the sand, where he hit the control-dial, returning to normal. "Well?" Fin pressed.
"Spill, dude!" Broseph urged. "Find any waves?"
"Okay…good news, bad news time," Ben said. "The good news is that there are waves, further out to sea…"
A cheer rose up from his fellow groms at that. Ecstatic, Lo hugged him. "Baby, you rule!"
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Reef declared. "Let's hang ten, dudes..!"
"Hold on, Reef," Ben said. "The waves are there, but we can't ride 'em."
Gwen blinked. "Um…why?"
"That's the bad news," Ben finished. "Captain Ron's built some kinda golf-course island out there; that's why the waves aren't reaching shore."
Lo's eyes narrowed. "Urrrggh! I should've known Stupid Stanhope had something to do with this!"
Fin was in quick agreement. "That can't be legal, guys!" she shouted. "We should head to the police and bust his fat butt!"
Gwen looked worried. "Ben, where exactly did you find this golf-course?"
Ben pointed out to sea. "A couple minutes to the west."
"I was afraid of that," Gwen muttered. Raising her hand, she conjured a mauve energy-construct – a map depicting Sunset Island and the surrounding seas, complete with borders…and a dot representing the golf-course. "Going to the police won't help, Fin; if Ben's right, Captain Ron's built his course in international waters. Out there, nobody can touch him – not the police, the Coast Guard, the Canadian Navy, nobody."
Emma looked stricken. "Not even the Plumbers?"
Ben shook his head. "Plumbers only intervene in events of alien activity, Emma; unless Ron's an alien, they can't get involved."
Kevin's eyes narrowed. "Maybe, but we can," he said. "International waters means no laws, guys; we can't bust Ron, but he can't bust us, either." His fist pounded his palm. "What say we go out and hang a beating on his fat ass?"
"Kevin!" Gwen scolded. "We don't get to play judge and jury just because somebody does something that inconveniences us!"
"This isn't just an inconvenience, Gwen," Ben countered. "If Ron's blocking the surf, he's also mucking up the tides. Yeah, it started with us losing surf-time, but pretty soon, it could screw up the currents that local fishermen use. Ron isn't just screwing us over; he's screwing over the whole island."
Gwen looked pensive for a moment. "So what exactly do we do about that golf-course, Ben? We can't just blast it into smithereens – not with innocent tourists on it!"
Ben thought that over. "Lo, do you think you can borrow a Sea-Doo?"
Lo shrugged. "I guess. Why?"
Ben smiled knowingly. "Gwen, Kevin, alert the Coast-Guard; they're about to get busy." His smile grew as he held up the Omnitrix. "In cases like these, big problems need Way Big solutions…"
'One thousand and one…one thousand and two…man, there has GOT to be a better way to pass the time…'
Turning his eyes from the Lobbyquarium fish-tank as the shark made its one-thousand-and-third circle around the large central coral reef, Johnny yawned…and then groaned as the phone rang. 'I had to ask, didn't I?' He picked it up. "Surfer's Paradise Resort, Johnny speaking; how can I..?"
The sheer force of the delighted squeal almost blew out Johnny's eardrums, but it didn't stop the smile from spreading over his face as he recognized the caller. "Melanie!" he exclaimed. "Hi! How are you?"
He was answered by his baby sister's giggle. "I'm good!" Melanie answered. "Mommy said that we could come visit you for a few days, tomorrow!"
"Hey, that's great!" Johnny answered. "You guys'll love it here; there's tons to do!"
"And you'll teach me how to surf, right, Jon-Jon?" Melanie pleaded. "Mommy said I was old enough to start, this year…"
Johnny nodded. "Well, if Mom said it was okay, then I'd love to!" he answered. "Anyway, do you mind if I talk to Mom for a bit?"
Johnny laughed. "I know, Mel, but we've gotta talk about some boring old grown-up stuff before you guys can stop by, so we'll talk plenty tomorrow, okay?"
Melanie's tone brightened. "Okay, Jon-Jon! I love you!"
Johnny grinned. "Love you too, Melanie." There was a moment's pause, before Johnny heard the shuffling of the phone into a new pair of hands. "Hey, Mom."
The smile in Bethany St. James' voice was audible as she answered her eldest child. "Hi, John," she answered. "Is everything alright, up there?"
"Yeah, Mom, I'm fine."
Bethany's voice turned stern. "That Baumer boy isn't working you too hard, is he?"
Johnny laughed. "No, Mom; in Andrew's books, I'm actually one of the few he doesn't think of as slackers," he answered. "Though that could always change."
"I certainly hope not." Bethany's tone calmed. "Is everything alright with our reservation?"
Checking over his mother's file, Johnny nodded to himself. "You and Mel are A-okay, Mom! Surfer's Paradise awaits!" His expression turned worried. "I still wish you'd have let me help with that…"
"You stop that right now, mister! You have enough to worry about, what with saving for college, in a year!" Bethany scolded. "You do enough, sending a few dollars home, every week!"
"Okay, okay!" Johnny laughed. "I get it! No helping with family vacations until after college!"
"Good," Bethany said, calming down. "Well, John, we'll see you in the morning."
"Okay, Mom; drive safe."
"We will," Bethany answered. "Love you!"
Johnny grinned. "Love you, too, Mom." With that, he hung up…in time to see the others all hurry into the lobby. "Wow. That had to be the shortest surf-sesh in Sunset Beach history."
Emma groaned. "Try the shortest non-sesh! Stupid Captain Ron built a golf-course out in international waters – it's blocking the waves!"
Johnny winced. "Man, that sucks!" he exclaimed. "So…rain-check on the flip-trick lesson?"
Emma nodded. "At least until the waves come back."
A sly smile crossed Lo's face. "Did I hear right?" she exclaimed. "You asked Johnny for a flip-trick lesson?"
Emma blinked. "I didn't have to: Johnny volunteered."
Fin grinned. "Gee, I sure wish a hot guy would volunteer to help me out, sometime."
Reef instantly perked up. "Say no more, betty: I'll have you doing flips in no time!"
Fin's smile instantly collapsed. "Correction: I wish a hot guy that knew his butt from a hole in the sand would volunteer to help me out, sometime."
Ben glanced to Gwen and Kevin, who both looked back with equal confusion. "Hey, Ben: what're your girlfriend and Princess Surf-Nut doing?"
Ben could only shrug. "Wish I knew."
Emma was just as perplexed. "Huh?" she asked. "Fin? Lo? What are you talking about?"
Fin chuckled. "You mean it's not obvious, Alberta?"
Lo shrugged. "All we're saying is that most guys wouldn't just volunteer their time for no reason."
Fin nodded. "The only time I've seen a guy jump through hoops is when he was head-over-heels for a girl."
Emma laughed. "What? Are you two serious?" Beaming, she turned to Johnny. "Johnny, can you believe these two?"
Johnny's heart sank, as his expression went flat. "Yeah. They're hilarious."
Ben sighed. "Anyway, Johnny, the reason we're here is because Lo and I need to rent a jet-ski."
Lo nodded. "We're going to pay Captain Ron a little visit."
Johnny blinked. "Omnitrix-related?"
"You could say that," Kevin answered.
"Don't worry, Johnny; Ben's just going to get the waves back," Gwen reassured him, fixing her cousin with a warning eye, "without going overboard; right, Ben?"
Ben smiled sheepishly. "Yeah, I can keep the mayhem to a minimum."
Lo pouted folding her arms. "Would it be so bad if Captain Ron went missing at sea?"
Ben frowned. "Lo…"
Johnny gestured towards the exit, pointing at the main dock at the beach. "Just as long as you bring the jet-ski back in one piece, I'm golden."
Ben grinned. "Thanks, Johnny!" he said, hurrying off.
Lo was close behind. "Put the rental on my spa-tab!"
As Ben and Lo headed out, Broseph and Reef started walking towards the staff-house. "Hey, bro, since the waves are still MIA, you think I can borrow your board-wax?" Broseph asked. "Sheila's lookin' kinda dull, so I thought I'd give her a treat."
Reef winced. "Dude. You gotta stop acting like your board's a betty."
Rolling her eyes at Reef, Fin turned towards Gwen and Kevin. "Hey, Red, you and Alcatraz wanna lose some quarters in the arcade?" she asked. "At least until Ben and Lo get back?"
Kevin scowled. "Don't call me Alcatraz, Princess Surf-Nut."
"Then don't call me Princess Surf-Nut, Alcatraz."
Quieting her boyfriend's retort with a hand on his forearm, Gwen smiled. "Sure!"
"Cool!" Fin replied, walking towards the arcade. "Be warned: I am the queen of Alien Blasters 5."
Kevin snorted. "Then prepare to be crowned."
"Bring it on, Alcatraz."
Only Emma and Johnny were left in the lobby. Turning to Johnny, Emma smiled shyly. "Um…Johnny?" she asked. "Can I ask you something?"
Johnny felt ashamed that her smile was all it took to rekindle his hopes. "Sure."
Emma beamed. "Does…does Ty know many flip-tricks? If I figure them out, will he be impressed?"
As always, Johnny's hopes shattered like glass…but this time, Johnny felt something snap inside him; maybe Emma had just stepped on his last nerve. "Emma, he can't even remember your name!" he exclaimed. "He hasn't even asked to go surfing with you! I, on the other hand, have repeatedly helped you, the latest of which being this trick-lesson! I even saved your life during that zombie-incident! Does that mean anything to you?"
Emma's eyes went wide at his outburst. "Of…of course it does, Johnny!"
For a moment, Johnny was afraid he'd gone too far. "It does?"
Emma nodded with a smile…before she pulled the rug right out from under him. "It means you're my best friend in the world!"
Johnny didn't know how long he'd gone still, listening to that word echo in his head, but it must have been a few minutes, judging from Emma's concerned face. "Johnny?" she asked, nervously chewing her lip. "Are you okay?"
Blinking himself out of his brain-stall, Johnny took a deep breath…and sighed. "Excuse me for a moment." Without waiting for a reply, he turned, and walked away, heading to the washroom, going into a stall, and locking the door.
After screaming out his frustrations, Johnny calmly opened the stall, and walked out, staring at himself in the washroom mirror.
Slowly, his stressed-out expression faded away, replaced by some mixture of anger and determination; Emma saw him as nothing more than a friend.
And yet he was here, stressing over Emma.
He wanted to smack himself. 'Oh, God, what is WRONG with me..?'
"You okay, bro?"
Looking over his shoulder, Johnny saw the old surf-hermit known only as The Kahuna emerging from another stall. "You sounded majorly harshed, dude."
Johnny took a calming breath. "I'm fine, Kahuna; that scream you heard was me coming to my senses."
The Kahuna still looked worried. "This about that red-haired grom-ette, bro? Emma?"
'Was I THAT obvious?' Aloud, he answered, "Not anymore, man." He checked his watch. "Anyway, I'm punching out, now."
Leaving Kahuna behind, Johnny headed to the punch-clock and punched out, before making his way to the staff house. As he walked onto the patio, he found Reef and Broseph there, waxing their boards. Spotting him, Broseph smiled. "Hey, bro; what's up?"
Johnny took one last glance towards the hotel – where Emma was – and looked away, his expression firm. "You know that thing you guys asked me about, before?" he asked. "How I said I'd think about it?"
A knowing smile crossed Reef's face. "Yeah…"
"I thought about it." Johnny felt his insides briefly clench…and then relax. "Count me in."
"WHOOOHOOO! That's our boy!" Reef cheered. "Leave it to us, man; before the night's over, you'll have bagged yourself an even hotter hottie!"
Broseph grinned. "Like that betty with the silver hair, bro? She seemed pretty into you."
Johnny shrugged. "I guess I'll find out, tonight," he answered, feeling slightly sad…but at the same time, freer. 'Sorry, Emma; you had your chance…'
"So what exactly were you and Fin up to, just now?"
As she stood on her rented jet-ski, working the controls, and just loving the feel of Ben's arms around her waist, Lo shrugged as innocently as she could. "Whatever do you mean?"
Ben's chuckle tickled her ear as he leaned closer. "Don't play dumb, Lo; you and Fin were all but throwing Johnny at Emma. What gives?"
"Oh. That," Lo answered. "We were just trying to help Emma see what a catch Johnny is so she'll ask him out." She frowned. "Which would be easier if she wasn't hung up on Ty…"
Ben blinked. "So Johnny told you he likes Emma?"
"He didn't have to; the day those Forever Knights showed up, I saw him gazing at her!" Lo's eyes narrowed. "Wait…you knew?"
Ben gulped. "Uh…"
"Ben!" Lo cried. "Why didn't you tell me sooner? Fin and I could've been working on Emma even before now!"
"Hey, it was Johnny's business, Lo!" Ben defended. "And I'm not so sure meddling in our friends' romantic lives is such a great idea; those things tend to backfire."
Lo pouted. "But don't you want Johnny and Emma to be happy?" Smiling flirtatiously, she leaned back into him. "Like us?"
Slightly dizzy from the floral scents of Lo's hair, Ben struggled to order his thoughts. "We weren't forced together, Lauren."
Lo giggled. "Obviously you never heard Emma and Fin constantly telling me how dateable you were!"
Ben's eyes went wide. "Wait…those two planned to get us together?"
Lo blushed. "Uh…not exactly; they just pointed out a few things."
Ben smirked. "Then there you go!" he said. "Nobody forced us together, Lo; we happened on our own." Grinning, he gently tightened his arms around her slim waist, giving her a playful squeeze. "And I couldn't be happier."
Lo squeaked, causing the jet-ski to swerve. "Ben! Trying to steer, here!" she squealed. Once she'd calmed – and let herself enjoy the hug – she continued. "I just don't want Emma to get hurt by chasing after Ty, Ben."
Ben looked surprised. "But I thought…I mean, Ty seemed like a pretty good guy…"
"Nine times out of ten, yes," Lo agreed, "but with girls, he's clueless! If he's not ignoring the nice girls that crush on him – most of my school-friends included – he's chasing after every hotel-honey that looks good in a bikini!" She sighed. "And when my friends got their hearts broken, I always have to pick up the pieces, and I don't want that to happen to Emma."
Lo nodded. "That's why I'm trying to fix Emma up with the only other available good guy on Sunset Beach," she finished. "Well, other than Broseph, but he's a little out there…no offence."
"Okay, I think I understand," Ben relented, "but I still think meddling won't end well." Looking ahead, he took a deep breath.
Spotting the golf-course, Lo scrunched her nose in disgust. 'God, Stanhope, eyesore much?' Stopping her jet-ski just out of the course's visual range, Lo switched off the engine. "Okay; time for you to do your hero-thing, and save Sunset Island!" She giggled. "Again!"
Ben grinned. "Wish me luck?"
Turning around, Lo happily complied, wreathing her arms around her boyfriend's neck, before sweetly touching her lips to his. "Consider that a down-payment," she cooed. "The rest of the kiss comes later."
Slightly dazed, Ben widened his grin. "Consider that golf-course relocated!" he declared. "Stay clear, beautiful; time to get large-and-in-charge!" With that, he dove off the jet-ski, swimming straight down, far below the visible depths…before a massive flash of emerald light lit up the ocean for miles around.
Startled by the much-larger-than-usual Omnitrix flare, Lo looked around for any sign of Ben…and froze as she saw the telltale dorsal fin of a shark break the surface; before she could shout a warning, the fin started to grow upwards, getting taller and taller…and then Lo realized her mistake.
It wasn't a dorsal fin; it was a cranial fin.
Her mouth dropping open, Lo could only gape as a massive, red-white, finned head, with golden eyes twice her own height rose up from the depths, followed by an incredibly muscled torso over twice the height of Surfer's Paradise, with two equally muscled arms with red bone-blades jutting from the elbows…and the Omnitrix symbol attached to its chest.
The sound of its voice was enough to ripple the water. "WAY BIG!"
Once he'd fully stood up, the giant – Way Big – began to move through the water towards the golf-course, slowly but steadily, rumbling the water with each movement…causing Lo to realize he was walking along the ocean floor.
The sight of the approaching alien giant, along with its accompanying thunderous footsteps, sent the patrons of the golf-course into a panic, rushing for the life-boats. Captain Ron tried to reassure them, but he stopped dead in his tracks as Way Big reached the shore of the course, climbing onto it with one giant step, before standing up to his full, mind-boggling height, looming over five times the height of Surfer's Paradise.
With an irate frown, Way Big reached down, grabbed Ron by the rear collar of his shirt, and lifted him up to his eye-level. "P-Put me down!" Ron sputtered. "Y-You can't do this to me! This is private property!"
"BIG TALK FOR SUCH A LITTLE GUY, PAL," Way Big rumbled. "AS FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY, WHO SAID YOU COULD PUT A GOLF-COURSE RIGHT ON TOP OF MY HOME, HUH?"
Ron froze. "Y-Your h-home?"
"YEAH, BUSTER. MY HOME." Way Big's tone turned frosty. "FOR THE PAST FEW DAYS, I'VE BEEN PICKING GOLF-BALLS OUT OF MY YARD NON-STOP, THANKS TO YOU." His eyes narrowed. "HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF I PLAYED GOLF WITH YOUR HOUSE?"
Laughing nervously, Ron back-pedalled as if his life depended on it. "I-I had no idea, sir!" he exclaimed. "I-I am so sorry! I'll h-have this course off your property within the week, I promise!"
"NO. YOU WON'T." With that, Way Big set Ron back down on the ground, before resting his foot against the central tower. "I WILL." And with that, he started to push.
Almost instantly, the tower fell over, the support cables snapping like taffy. With the tower gone, the tiny archipelago began to drift apart…and allowing the waves the roll through, unopposed. With the waves free to roll, Way Big turned to go, but he briefly looked back over his shoulder at Ron. "DON'T MAKE ME COME BACK UP HERE, KOOK," he rumbled, before he waded back into the ocean, disappearing beneath the waves.
From far away, out of eyesight, Lo watched as Way Big dipped back under the water, keeping an eye out for the telltale deactivation flash; as one wave rocked her jet-ski, she almost missed the emerald flare, before a normal Ben climbed out of the water, back onto the jet-ski behind her. "How'd I do?"
With a delighted squeal, Lo hugged her boyfriend. "My hero!" she exclaimed. "Baby, that was awesome!"
His hands, moving to her waist, Ben gently inched Lo closer to him, his eyes meeting hers. "So, about the rest of that kiss..?"
Giggling, Lo batted her eyes at him. "Why not wait until we get back to shore?" she suggested. "Right now, getting rocked by waves on a jet-ski isn't really conducive to making out."
Ben sighed. "Good point." With that, Lo banked the jet-ski into a turn, heading back to shore.
By the time Ben and Lo had returned to the dock and parked the jet-ski, all of Captain Ron's patrons, as well as Captain Ron, had landed their lifeboats on the beach near Surfer's Paradise. As she and Ben walked towards the hotel, Lo beamed as she spotted her father, giving him a little wave. "Hi, Daddy!"
In his usual business suit, James Ridgemount smiled back at his daughter. "Hi, Princess." Spotting Ben, he nodded. "Benjamin."
Grinning sheepishly, Ben nodded back. "Sir."
Looking back to his business rival, James folded his well-muscled arms. "Care to run that by me again, Ron?"
Ron was still in panic-mode. "It's true, Jimmy! Some gigantic sea-monster knocked down my golf-course! We've got to get the Coast Guard out here, pronto!"
James' tone was flat. "A sea-monster." He sighed. "How much sun did you get out there, Ron?"
Ron was about to answer, but his guests did it for him. "It's true!"
"There's something out there!"
"It was huge!"
Ron smirked. "What'd I tell you, Jimbo?"
James' hand went to his forehead, pinching his brow. "Where exactly did you see this "monster," Ron?"
Ron pointed out to sea. "Ten miles that way!" he said. "Now are you going to call the damn Coast Guard, or should I?"
"Doesn't matter who calls them, Ron – that's international water. The Coast Guard's jurisdiction ends there." He arched an eyebrow. "For that matter, what were you doing there, Ron?"
Ron paled. "Uh…"
James didn't give him a chance to weasel out of it. "You built a golf-course in international waters, Ron?" he asked, his tone growing cold. "This wouldn't happen to have anything to do with the surf going flat, would it?"
Ron grinned nervously. "You know what? Forget I said anything!" he laughed. "Monsters? Who saw any monsters? Honestly! No need to report this, or anything!"
That didn't go over so well with his former patrons. "I paid good money for those 18 holes, Stanhope!"
"What the hell am I going to tell my insurance company?"
James raised his hands to calm the crowd. "Now, now; I'm sure the good Captain would be happy to refund your down-payments!" he said, before gesturing towards the hotel. "In the meantime, I'll have my staff prepare complimentary rooms for all of you – free of charge!"
The crowd cheered at that, while Ron's expression collapsed. "Yeah. Sure. Refund."
As the crowd – including a despondent Ron – headed towards Surfer's Paradise, Lo let out a mild squeal, clapping her hands. "Daddy, that was awesome!"
James chuckled. "I didn't build this hotel-chain by letting opportunity pass, honey." His expression turned stern. "Why do I get the feeling that you had something to do with this, Ben?"
Ben gulped. "If I did, sir – not that I'm saying I did – it would only have been for a very good reason."
James arched an eyebrow. "Like getting those waves back?"
Ben nodded. "Yes, sir, before they started mucking up the local economy, like the currents the local fishermen use."
James looked thoughtful. "I see." He glanced towards the hotel, before turning back. "Well, given that there's no harm done – and you seem to have bought me some good PR with Ron's soon-to-be-ex-clientele – I suppose I can let this pass." He sighed. "Just try to keep your watch's use under wraps? Next time, I might not be able to talk someone out of calling the Coast Guard."
Ben nodded. "Yes, sir." As James walked off, Ben drooped a little. "It's an uneasy truce."
Lo pouted. "Don't say that! Daddy does like you, remember?"
"Maybe," Ben replied, "but I don't make it easy."
Lo's smile came back. "Being a hero never is," she cooed, "which reminds me: I owe you a kiss."
Ben grinned. "That you do." Taking her boyfriend by the hand, Lo led him away from the hotel beach, heading towards the staff-house.
By the time they got there, the sun was beginning to set, painting the sky and the sand a myriad shades of red and gold – the perfect setting for a romantic moment. As the two of them walked onto the patio, Lo happily pounced on Ben, winding her arms around his neck as she kissed him. His eyes going wide as Lo's tongue teased his wisdom teeth, Ben felt his desires flare to match hers, folding his arms around her slim waist as he returned her kiss with equal passion. Moaning blissfully through their kiss, Lo let the momentum of their embrace move them backwards…until Ben tripped, falling back into the patio-hammock, taking Lo with him.
As they both tumbled, Lo let out a squeak of surprise, but once she came to a stop on Ben's chest, she giggled, before picking right up where she'd left off, her hands trailing over Ben's toned chest. Ben matched her passions inch for inch, his lips leaving hers to explore her neck, letting one hand trace the silky skin of her lower back, while the other gently caressed the back of her thigh as she draped one leg over his. Gasping with pleasure, Lo craned her head up to suckle on Ben's earlobe, encouraging him to hold her closer…
"LO! What the hell?"
Their magic moment completely shattered, Lo turned away from Ben to glower over her shoulder at her brother. "Rude much, Tyler?"
Ben wasn't any happier about it than she was. "Didn't we clear all this up, Ty?"
Ty looked green. "Yeah, but that doesn't mean I want to see you two!" he complained. "God, I used to sleep on that hammock!"
Lo rolled her eyes. "Okay, when you see Mom and Daddy doing each other on the kitchen table, then you can complain!" she retorted.
Ben grimaced. "Did you have to remind me of that, Lo?"
Lo flushed. "Sorry, baby; the point is, this is tame compared to what I've walked in on him doing with his hook-ups." As she glanced at her brother's attire – casual khakis and a white sleeveless t-shirt under a dark blue zip-up t-shirt – her expression turned quizzical. "Speaking of which, you're going out, aren't you?"
Ty shrugged. "Yeah, me, Reef, Broseph, and Johnny were headed to the Quintuple Overhead. So what?"
Lo sighed. "I knew it. You only get dressed up when you're trying to – wait, WHAT?" Her sigh turned to a surprised shriek as she bolted to her feet, sending Ben tumbling to the patio. "Johnny's going with you?"
The moment she'd said that, Johnny walked out of the staff-house onto the patio, his work-attire exchanged for black slacks, a white t-shirt, and a stylish black casual jacket. "Okay, Ty; ready when you are."
Blinking, Lo glanced over her friend's choice of attire. "Wow. Not bad, Johnny," she remarked, before she shook her head to clear it. "Now, explain this to me: what. Are. You. DOING?"
Johnny's expression was flat. "Moving on, Lo."
By then, Reef and Broseph had emerged from the staff-house; Reef had donned his black t-shirt and red board-shorts, while Broseph had thrown on a floral Hawaiian t-shirt and dark green shorts. Spotting Johnny, Broseph grinned, tossing him a thumbs-up. "Lookin' sharp, Front Desk Guy!"
Johnny shrugged. "Good to hear!" he said. "Now, can we get going..?"
Johnny trailed off as Emma, still in her bikini and carrying her board, raced up from the beach. "I just had the most awesome sesh out there, and…J-Johnny?"
The sight of Johnny's new look momentarily stalled Emma's greeting, while Johnny just shrugged. "Hey, Emma."
Emma stumbled for words. "You're…y-you look…wow."
Johnny folded his arms. "You were saying something?"
"H-Huh? Oh, right!" Her cheer came back. "The surf's totally overhead! You gotta come see!" Her smile grew. "It's a perfect time for flip-tricks!"
Johnny's flat stare started to turn into a frown. "Maybe later, Emma."
Emma's eyes widened with surprise. "B-But…but you said…"
"I said I'd help you in the afternoon, Emma; it's evening, now," Johnny corrected. "Right now, I made plans to head out with the guys; contrary to what you might think, I do have a life."
Emma's lower lip quivered. "I-I never said you didn't…"
"No, you just expect that life to revolve around you."
Her cherry eyebrows dipped with hurt, Emma tried to stay cool. "J-Johnny?" she asked. "Is something wrong?"
"Not with me, there's not."
Her eyebrow ticking, Lo stared right at Johnny. "Johnny. Are you sure about this?"
"I'm sure, Lo."
Lo's eyes narrowed. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, Lo! I'm sure!" With that, he motioned towards the other guys. "Okay, guys, I'm good to go."
Promptly, Ty, Reef, and Broseph started to head towards the bus-stop. "Don't wait up, sis," Ty said.
Johnny started to follow them, but briefly looked back. "See you later."
"Uh…yeah," Emma murmured. "See you." As Johnny walked out of sight, Emma wilted. "So much for Johnny liking me, Lo."
Lo flinched. "Look, Emma, I'm sure there's a good explanation for…"
"Yeah, whatever," Emma replied. "I'm just…gonna go read in our room, okay?" She sighed. "I'm not in the mood to surf, right now."
As Emma walked into the staff-house, Lo let out a half-strangled shriek. "What just happened? We almost had Emma noticing Johnny likes her, and he does this? What the hell's gotten into him?"
Ben placed a hand on her shoulder. "Lo…remember how I said meddling in friend's personal lives wasn't a great idea?"
"Don't be helpful, Ben!" Lo huffed. "Ooh, boy is Johnny getting it when he gets back! He'd better have a good explanation for this..!"
Quintuple Overhead, Sunset Beach
'Okay, WHY did I think this was a good idea, again?'
Once the sun had set, the Quintuple Overhead quickly came alive, proving why it was the go-to club for local teens – legal or otherwise – looking for a good party; with the onset of twilight, it had almost instantly become packed with both tanned surfer-dudes and lithe beach-bunnies, all in casual wear as they gyrated to the flashing lights and pulsing music…
…while leaving Johnny feeling like a third wheel.
Looking around, Johnny felt an envious twinge as he first saw Ty, his arm around a curvaceous blonde babe, happily looking on as he talked about his latest surf-documentary; a few feet away, he spotted Reef trying to chat up a pretty redhead, who was significantly less-than-impressed; glancing towards the arcade, he had to chuckle as he saw Broseph loading up a game with quarters, before taking the controls alongside a copper-skinned, short-dark-haired beauty, the one he'd heard his fellow surfer talking about, if he was right.
Now that he thought about it, he was the only single person in the club; he'd tried chatting up several girls on or around the dance-floor, but none of them seemed to "click" with him…not like how he'd felt with Emma…
Johnny grimaced. 'Oh, God, what am I doing here?' he thought glumly. 'I don't belong here, and the only girl who MIGHT have wanted me here is a total no-show!' With that thought, he turned to go…
Suddenly, the crowd of dancers seemed to part for him, allowing Johnny to see right down to the pool-tables…where she was.
Charmina had exchanged her bikini for a slinky, light magenta cocktail dress, barely reaching mid-thigh, her mauve eyes fixed directly on his, and her perfectly kissable pink mouth curved in a knowing smile as she pointed a finger in his direction, crooking it back in a beckoning gesture.
For a moment, Johnny was sure she couldn't have meant him. Looking back over both shoulders, he found no-one else there, prompting him to look back at her, pointing to himself. 'Me?'
With a silent giggle, Charmina nodded.
Feeling a doofus grin cross his face, Johnny walked towards her, his eyes never leaving hers, as if drawn by some magical force. Finally, he was mere inches away from her. "Uh…hi."
Now Mina's giggle was audible. "You came."
Johnny's grin felt wide enough to break his face. "So did you."
Her teeth gliding alluringly over her lower lip, Mina looked up at him through her eyelashes. "I'm glad."
Johnny almost fell over. "Me too."
Her smile growing, Mina gestured to the pool-table, picking up a pool-cue. "Care to play?"
Johnny followed suit. "Sure," he replied. "Ladies first."
He was rewarded with Mina's alluring giggle. "Such a gentleman," she cooed, lining up her cue to break. "I have to warn you: I'm not very good at this." With that, she took her shot, scattering the pool-balls. "Your turn."
Johnny shrugged. "Hey, neither am I," he admitted, lining up a shot to sink the solid 1-ball. He took the shot, which connected, sinking the ball like magic and ricocheting…to sink the 2-ball.
Then the 3-ball.
Then the 4-, 5-, 6-, and 7-balls, ending with the 8-ball rolling into a corner pocket.
Johnny tried not to look as bug-eyed as he felt. "Although I'm obviously better than I thought I was."
Charmina's impressed smile quickly dispelled his disbelief. "Obviously!" she agreed, setting her cue down, as her smile turned nervous. "Listen, can we get out of here?" she asked. "I'd prefer somewhere a little more…private."
Thoughts of refusing her were nowhere near Johnny's mind. "I think I have an idea." Extending his hand to her, Johnny's doofus grin came back as she accepted; taking a brief second to marvel at the softness of her touch, he led her out of the club.
An utter contrast to the club, the nearby beach was all but empty, and perfectly quiet as Johnny and Charmina strolled along the coastline, with only the moonlight and the whispering surf in the background. Smiling happily, Mina turned to him, her lustrous silver tresses floating around her head as the enamoured wind played with her hair. "This is nice."
Johnny shrugged. "Beats trying to shout with each other over the club music."
Mina giggled. "Yeah, not fun!" she agreed. "Plus, a moonlight walk is a better fit for a romantic date, wouldn't you think?"
'"Date!" "Date!" She thinks of this as a date!' Johnny managed to keep his mental exclamations to himself. "Definitely."
As she stopped, Mina met his gaze with a wistful smile. "Thank you."
Johnny paused. "For what?"
"This. Being such a great guy. Being here…with me." Mina's pink eyes started to mist. "I…I really needed it."
Worry for her instantly flooded Johnny. He managed a smile, so as not to upset her. "Thank you for agreeing to meet me here." As that earned a laugh from her, Johnny took a step closer. "Is…everything okay?"
Charmina sniffled. "I-I'm sorry; I don't want to wreck things by…b-by opening up my baggage…"
Johnny's reassuring hand gently touched her forearm, as carefully as he'd approach an injured fawn. "You're not wrecking anything, Mina. If something's upsetting you, I want to know about it."
Mina's lip quivered, as she hugged herself. "I…I-I just got out of a bad relationship," she whimpered. "I used to think that…that he was the greatest; now I wonder how I could have ever been so stupid." She sniffled again. "He…he…"
Crystal tears started flowing down her eyes. "…he…h-hurt me…"
Johnny's insides twisted with a mixture of anguish, horror, and fury: anguish at Mina's pain, horror that some monster had hurt her, and a furious desire to murder said monster. By some miracle, he managed to reign in enough of the fury and horror to empathize – gently, he reached to her face, brushing away her tears. "What kind of monster could ever hurt someone as perfect as you?"
Mina sniffled, forcing a teary smile. "T-Thank you…"
Johnny took a deep breath. "I know it's nothing like what you've been through, but…I do have some idea of a few things you're feeling."
Charmina's eyes went wide. "Did…did someone hurt you, too?"
Johnny shook his head. "No, no; it's just…I know a bit about relationships not working out how you wanted them to." He sighed. "At work, there's this girl I used to like; she's nice to me, but…I'm "just a friend."" He paused for a second. "I-I'm not trying to diminish what you're feeling, but…I know how it can hurt." He drooped. "If that makes any sense."
Charmina smiled again. "It does," she cooed. "And, for the record, this girl you're talking about is insane to not want you as a boyfriend." Her smile turned wistful as she hugged herself. "The second I saw you this morning, I knew – somehow, I knew you'd never hurt me."
Johnny's entire world was spinning at those words. "M-Mina…I…I think I should give you fair warning," he panted. "If you're not interested in me, you'd better say so now and make tracks…because in five seconds you'll be wearing my lips for the rest of the evening."
Charmina's gaze turned positively feline, as she moved closer to him, the motion of her tongue turning those pink lips irresistibly moist. "1, 2, 3, 4, 5; I'm still here, John." At those words, Johnny was on autopilot, sweeping Charmina into his arms, resting one hand protectively on the small of her back, the other caressing the nape of her neck as he guided her up towards him, meeting her lips with his own…and time stopped.
The very instant Johnny kissed her, he swore he felt the earth moving beneath him, before it went still; as his tongue met and danced with hers, the stars above turned to fireworks, blazing across the night sky, with only the sound of Charmina's blissful moans to fill his ears, made all the sweeter as she rested her silken hands on his chest, relaxing into him. By the time they reluctantly parted to breathe, Johnny could still see spots, his expression one of glazed-over joy. "Wow…"
Giggling, Mina happily buried her face in the crook of his neck. "You can say that again, handsome," she purred…while making sure to keep her knowing smirk out of sight.
She'd known that Ben Tennyson was here, if the recent "monster" sightings were any clue. She'd also known that, where he went, his magician cousin – "Lucky Girl," though she doubted she went by that name, anymore – was never far behind. Added to the recent museum exhibit, and it was a perfect setup.
All she needed was a cover and accomplice…and now she had one.
Leaning back, his eyes tinged pink from her spell, his expression still goofy, Johnny looked into her eyes. "Charmina…will you be my girlfriend?"
Quickly replacing her smirk with a happy smile, Charmcaster nodded. "Oh, John, I thought you'd never ask me!"
File-name: Way Big
Home planet: Cosmic storms
Abilities: Subject possesses size, mass, and strength far in excess of any other known species; average height falls between 100 and 200 feet. Subject's epidermis is of extremely high density, supplying significant resistance to injury to all known trauma, up to and including military-grade Class 5 technology. Subject's epidermis is reinforced by a biomagnetic field of similar type to most known planets, permitting survival in cosmic radiation far in excess of 91 MSv. Subject's cranial fin serves a stabilizing function to maintain balance, which allows subject to run at terrestrial speeds comparable to Kinecelerans; subject can be momentarily disoriented if cranial fin is subjected to sufficient blunt-force trauma, although no known force is sufficient to cause death. Subject possesses no observable breathing apparatus, both indicating an anaerobic metabolism and enabling sustained survivability in vacuum; little else about subject's metabolism is known. Subject can also generate and control cosmic rays, projecting them in single-emission bursts or sustained bursts typical of cosmic storms; low-level single bursts are typically of sufficient strength to trigger wide-scale radiation sickness on any planet in its path, whereas higher-level bursts can trigger catastrophic electromagnetic cascades within planets possessing liquid/solid-metal cores. Mercifully, such high-level bursts have been observed only once.
Description: The gentle giants of the cosmos, the To'kustar race was discovered entirely by accident when Galvan astronomers observed several cosmic storms exhibiting accelerated and decelerated motion. An expedition to the storms in question soon revealed all: the storm was in fact a colony of To'kustars, migrating across deep space.
Analysis of To'kustar behaviour suggests intelligence comparable to the whales and dolphins of Earth; despite a lack of breathing organs, To'kustars are capable of producing vocal sounds, although communication in deep space is likely achieved by extreme-low-level cosmic burst-patterns. This capability also suggests that To'kustars have visited other planets before…which potentially explains the cultural phenomenon of giant humanoid monster-movies in the Earth-nation of Japan.
In the wake of his hookup, Johnny sees himself as a whole new man, to the approval of some of the groms…and the dismay of others.
But with a new baddie on the prowl around Sunset Beach, Ben and his team may be too busy to help straighten things out…
…until it becomes clear that Johnny's new flame is hardly the sweetheart she seems to be.
Will our heroes get to the bottom of this mystery?
Find out, when Johnny's "Black Magic Woman" sets her scheme in motion…