1100 Water Ridge Drive, Beverly Hills, California
Ingrid Stone laughed in response to a one-liner just delivered by one of her best friends as she tried to avoid spilling her martini, leaning back into her chair to avoid shaking too much. The blond billionaire was relaxing in her somewhat modest home with her two closest friends, Carol Wilford and Merilyn Kent, both the wives of wealthy men like herself, though their husbands were still alive. Merilyn’s husband was a private physician, his practice doing extremely well and based out of western Los Angeles. Carol’s husband meanwhile was the CEO of a talent agency that represented stars like Kathy Beckinstaff and Megan Wolff. The three women, in spite of not being employed, were active in charity work, Merilyn specializing in unusual auctions while Carol liked hosting golf tournaments; Ingrid herself was doing work for the children’s wards of hospitals. A hospital near Hollywood in LA had been named Stone Medical after Ingrid’s late husband and the children’s ward was named after her.
“I know it isn’t politically correct, but sometimes accents just amuse me,” breathed Merilyn, the redhead who’d recently turned fifty pushing a few displaced hairs back behind her ear. Merilyn was still a knock-out, Ingrid feeling the woman might be better looking than she even though they were the same age, and wore a simple designer blue jeans and white short-sleeved blouse outfit like a model would, the laugh that had displaced her hair not affecting the simple but effective outfit. Of the three women Merilyn was the most humble, not wearing any jewelry aside from a solid gold dolphin necklace, something her husband had gotten her in light of her work to protect dolphins from fish trawlers.
“I know, but if stand-up comics have taught us anything, it’s that being politically incorrect can be funny if done right,” noted Carol, the one who’d told the joke, which had made fun of one of her husband’s client’s accents. Carol was only forty-six, roughly three and a half years younger than her friends, but fit in quite well, having the best gossip of the trio due to her connections with the Hollywood stars and starlets. A brunette, Carol possessed strong facial features that gave her a sort of sultry look. Unlike the casually dressed Merilyn, Carol was wearing a knee-length purple dress, though a simple one having a vaguely triangular pattern, the accent colour only slightly darker than the base. Besides the dress Carol was also wearing a pearl necklace with an emerald on the end as well as two gold bracelets on her right wrist and a silver watch on the other, her earrings were made from rubies.
“Ah, simpler times,” sighed Ingrid, sitting up. The blond was wearing white Capri pants and a grey and black quasi-tank top with a V-neck collar that almost looked like it had just been wrapped around her body, with a light jacket over top of the shirt and sunglasses in her hair. Of the three women Ingrid’s rings were the most impressive, possessing a large diamond for her wedding ring plus a sapphire, ruby and emerald on the opposite hand, and an opal pendant around her neck.
“Sorry to change the subject, but I’ve been meaning to ask you something,” Merilyn suddenly announced, casually stirring her own drink, a Manhattan. “It happened months ago, but you never did comment on your daughter coming out of the closet. Why?” Carol gave Merilyn a glance that was a mix of admiration for asking such a bold question and admonishment for being so un-subtle in her approach, the brunette then downed nearly half of her Cosmopolitan.
“I was wondering when you’d ask, I’m just surprised it took you this long,” remarked Ingrid with a nervous smile, putting her Crantini aside. “We’ve talked about it a bit… really; the notion that she’s a lesbian doesn’t bother me so much as the circumstance. Erika’s living with a woman we hired years ago and from what I can tell the fact that they became so close might have triggered her turn. I’m not saying that I think she was seduced into the lifestyle or anything, I just have a bit of trouble accepting the way she lives now and how she might have been exposed to it before she was ready.”
“So, you’re proud of Erika being honest, but are disapproving over how she lives her life?” summarized Merilyn as she ate the cherry that came with her drink. “I can understand that. I mean, I don’t think any of us have a problem with the notion of your daughter being gay, and this Mary woman sounds amazing, but underneath it all…”
“I want to call that attitude something out of the sixties but with some hint of the current decade thrown in,” commented Carol, getting a snicker from her friends as they nodded. “You know, it’s been a while since we’ve seen Erika, we should…” Carol trailed off as her world faded away, her mind going blank as she froze in place, seated on the authentic black leather couch, reclining while looking over her left shoulder towards the view beyond the window, her drink raised in her left hand while her right arm rested on the back of her seat. Merilyn was leaning forward on her part of the couch, staring down at her drink with her right hand holding the cherry stem slightly away from her lips. Ingrid had actually stood before being immobilized holding her empty glass in her right hand at her side while her left gestured casually towards Merilyn, her lips were slightly pursed and opened as if to interrupt, her eyes on Merilyn’s empty glass. No one moved, blinked or even processed a thought as a faint hissing sound could be heard in the next room.
* * *
Derek Grisham, operating under the code name of Mr. Fire, smiled as watched the scene unfold inside Ingrid’s fairly modest house. The building maybe cost a million dollars on the market and even then most of the value due to its view of the region, it otherwise being just a typical house for a family of three, assuming none of the three shared a bedroom. Ingrid was a billionaire but seemed to be more about the social lifestyle than the domestic one, only having a maid and said maid only coming by once per week. The house’s backyard was also quite basic, lacking a pool though possessing a large hot tub and aside from that just a simple rose-garden and two trees, neither of which grew fruit. Really, only the location and the cars in the driveway were the only signs that the house belonged to someone with millions in the bank, as Ingrid did drive an imported Ferrari. Rumour had it Ingrid have moved out of the house she'd shared with her husband due to problems with memories and apparently the middle-class style house was all she needed.
Derek, who was sitting in the back of a fake electric company van, had tapped into Ingrid’s security cameras to watch how the Type-7 gas worked, having only seen it use once before when a man called Mr. Void had broken him and two others out of prison. Prior to adopting his code name and targeting Ingrid Stone, Derek had been a New York mobster, working for a crime family that didn’t identify via an ethnicity though they were mostly Irish and Scottish. Two years ago Derek had been sent to extort money from a man who’d run to LA and had been caught with a bloody knife in his car after being pulled over due to his partner speeding. Convicted and sent to prison, he was promptly abandoned by his crime family. Derek had instead been contacted by a man initially calling himself John Void, eventually suggesting he go to bed early one night as it was expected to be foggy. The code, as it turned out, was that the prison would be flooded Type-7 gas, allowing him to be extracted. In return for the rescue Derek had been put to work almost right away and given the complicated task of kidnapping a billionaire.
Exiting his van, Derek casually adjusted the coveralls he wore and moved up to Ingrid’s door, knocking twice. As Derek waited he looked at himself in the reflection of a window, noting that the white construction helmet he wore effectively hid his Mohawk-style crew cut while his goatee made him look fairly professional somehow. After not getting any response, as expected, Derek glanced around, using his honed mafia skills to make sure he wasn’t being watched, and then used a passkey he’d made earlier to enter the house. The gas projectors, the security camera feed and key had all been dealt with earlier in the day when Ingrid had been out.
“Picturesque,” mused Derek with a cold smile, looking over the tableau of the three women and admiring how well the gas worked. Shutting the blinds, Derek proceeded to produce an injector gun from his toolbox and give first Merilyn and then Carol a full overdose of Type-7, freezing them for good unless they received the counter-agent. Arriving at Ingrid, Derek took great pleasure in first putting his box down, then removing the glass from the woman’s stiff hand before slowly pulling off her jacket, managing to get her to retain her pose while exposing her arms.
“Funny, all the plastic surgery you women probably get to look more like mannequins, and now thanks to me that’s all you are,” remarked Derek, effectively to himself, as he injected Ingrid as well. Once he was done Derek casually tossed the medical device aside along with his helmet, immediately kissing Ingrid as he brushed the glasses off of the top of her head. He was easily a dozen years her junior but Derek didn’t care, having wanted to see what it was like to get it on with a frozen woman ever since finding out about Type-7.
“All I need is some cheesy music and this could be some kind of porno,” laughed Derek as he moved around behind Ingrid and began to drag her away to the bedroom, her body bending at the waist while the rest of her motionless stance more or less remained rigid.
* * *
Victoria Towers, Malibu, California
One Day Later…
Erika Stone was enjoying a sensual shower with Caitlin Trafford, though the redhead had been frozen by Type-7 and thus was not at all aware of what was going on. That morning the billionaire had decided to spike her friend's orange juice and then dragged her into the shower stall so that Monica Stein, Caitlin's wife, could get some important phone calls done before joining in any fun. Likewise Mary Hamilton, Erika's girlfriend, had some data to submit to the FDA to help with their own tests on Type-7. Erika, in spite of enjoying freezing her roommates on a whim, understood when work needed to be done but Caitlin, lacking a real job as she'd never worked a day in her life, still had some self-control issues, so it was really in everyone's best interest for her to remain immobile. Caitlin currently stood in the middle of the large shower stall, posed like a ballerina, her knees bent with her feet together, her arms raised above her head, her hair currently being stroked by Erika as she rinsed out the shampoo and other products that had been applied earlier.
“I don't care if you don't pull your weight, you're easily the most fun to play with,” giggled Erika she finished stroking Caitlin's hair and moved to kiss her neck, then running her hands up and down her frozen companion's breasts. As the shower had been going on for a good twenty minutes Erika ended up nearly reaching an orgasm, which was completed after she sank down to the floor and brought Caitlin with her, pulling the naked Brit on top of her as she licked the older woman's nipples while touching herself. The action caused Erika to just sit with Caitlin rigidly on top of her for another five minutes before standing her immobilized companion up and finally shutting off the water.
Stepping out of the shower, Erika decided to unfreeze Caitlin so she could dry herself. Retrieving a glass of the Type-7 antidote she'd had standing by, Erika poured it down the redhead's throat while she stood looking like she was trying to use her body to spell out the letter Y. Caitlin blinked and grinned, moving her arms to lock Erika into an embrace, the pair kissing passionately for a moment before parting, neither saying anything. As Erika watched Caitlin leave however she did see a glint in her eye that made her certain she'd be getting her payback later. Her morning fun completed, Erika quickly dried herself off and decided to be a bit lazy, simply drying her hair and then putting it into a low ponytail rather than styling it. Clothing-wise Erika went for white jeans she'd received from Miss Zoe and a black V-neck top with no collar or sleeves, electing to walk around the apartment barefoot.
Near Erika's room was the study, where Monica was making her calls. The dark brunette, who looked like she could be easily years younger than she was, was dressed almost the opposite of Erika, wearing a long-sleeved white blouse with a short black skirt, her legs covered with pantyhose and Italian black leather heels. Like everyone else in the penthouse Monica worked for Stone Enterprises, being the head of travel as well as Erika's personal assistant. Monica's job included helping the International Temporal Enforcement Agency arrange flights for their teams, and apparently Monica was currently arranging a return home for IT's Team Delta.
Erika leaned into the study and flashed Monica a smile as the older woman hung up the phone. “Poor Caesar's going to Egypt again,” laughed Monica, referring to the leader of Team Delta, who'd gone to said country a few times already in the past few months. “How's my wife? Clean?”
“Yes; inside too, and I'm sure she'll be happier still when Stone Networks goes online next week,” replied Erika. Stone Networks was the latest venture of Stone Enterprises, which allowed people to be openly data-mined to have products and social locations recommended to them as well as doing typical social networking. The project was a bit controversial but was being sold on honesty and the fact that there wouldn't be typical ads, just information on items the user had expressed an interest in. While the website was Erika's brainchild, a result of wanting to combine social networking with product placement in a way that would be welcomed, Caitlin had also been a source of ideas and was thus given the formal title of Vice-President of Stone Networks. That job was pretty much useless, but given that Caitlin was the biggest social butterfly of the group it helped to have her input, and it gave her a public identity beyond just being Monica's wife.
“Hey, I just finished my email to the FDA,” announced Mary Hamilton, arriving beside Erika. The redhead, a darker one to Caitlin's lighter shade, was wearing a yellow and purple spaghetti top and black Capri pants with sandals on her feet; her somewhat curly hair carefully combed behind her ears. Erika smiled and gave her girlfriend a kiss hello in spite of them waking up together earlier that morning.
“So is that it for you today?” asked Erika, fingering her lover's waistband.
“I do need to visit the lab at some point and check on some throat cultures,” replied Mary, softly moving Erika's hand away, though she did also squeeze it in affection. “We might have a new common cold medicine if everything is going as hypothesized, though it still won't be a cure.”
“Anything that will take care of congestion in a few short minutes is a nice substitute though,” offered Erika. Stone Drug Labs, which Mary was the head of, was shifting some of its focus away from Type-7 research into the study of colds; one of Mary's lifelong dreams being to cure the common cold or some other viral disease. The hope was that by 2011 Stone Drug Labs’ medications would be expanded to treat mental diseases as well, Alzheimer's being another item on Mary's check-list.
“Excuse me, Erika?” called out another voice, one belonging to Erika's maid Talieya Antzas. The Greek woman had once tried to kidnap Erika but after being caught had agreed to work for her in exchange for not going to jail. The arrangement had been expected to fail, but since Talieya had come into some money after lawsuit and she'd stopped blaming Erika for past misfortunes it was working out. The only real problem was Talieya wasn't into women, though she had experimented in the past. She didn't seem to care that she was being frozen on a weekly basis to act as a sexual play-thing for Erika and her companions. The dynamic was odd to say the least.
“Yes Talieya?” replied Erika, moving in the direction of the call. From the hallway Erika emerged in the living room, which was expansive with several couches and the like scattered about. Talieya, forced to dress in a revealing French maid’s outfit as a part of their deal, was by the front door of the penthouse.
“Jennifer's here,” announced Talieya, indicating the door. Jennifer Sleet was a member of the domestic cleaning company Erika employed, though they came by less frequently since Talieya had been recruited. Talieya, as it happened, had actually taken Jenny's place the day she'd tried to get revenge on Erika. Since the incident however Talieya had actually become friends with the other maids, Erika occasionally hearing stories of them hitting clubs on the weekend.
“Weird; might as well see what she wants,” commented Erika with a shrug. As Talieya opened the door, Caitlin entered the room from the kitchen, a spray bottle visible in her right hand while she was dressed in a fluffy blue bathrobe with matching slippers, her hair straightened and silky. Jenny herself was dressed like Talieya, fishnet stockings and all, as the cleaning crew had come by a bit earlier to do some cleaning in the kitchen. While Talieya was forced to dress in her outfit on Erika's demands, for Jenny the costume was a part of the service she worked for.
“Hello Miss Stone,” offered Jenny with a funny little bowing curtsy gesture, walking into the apartment. “As I was leaving, I noticed this sitting on the bench outside the front door and saw it had your name on it.” Erika raised an eyebrow as Jenny held up a large manila envelope, her full name printed on it with red pen.
“Thanks, but aren't the others waiting for you in the van?” asked Erika, noting that the service usually had everyone travel together in one vehicle.
“I only had to be here alone today so I drove myself,” answered Jenny as she handed off the item to Erika. Caitlin meanwhile, unnoticed by Jenny, had come up behind her and quietly spritzed Talieya with Type-7, freezing the Greek in place while she stood by the door, more or less at attention with a somewhat bored look on her face. Jenny was about to say something else, her mouth was even open, when Caitlin sprayed her too, freezing her instantly thanks to the Type-7 content in the bottle. The brunette maid stood with her right arm still extended, her palm open after the envelope had been taken, her left hand resting slightly on a swayed hip, the resulting pose making Jenny look a bit like a mannequin or display model.
“If this isn't important you can feel free to spray me, but please wait until I'm done reading and have gotten another sentence in,” Erika casually told Caitlin, who was grinning ear to ear as she eyed Jenny’s luscious figure. Inside the envelope was a typed note that Erika began to read.
We don't know if you've noticed yet, but your mother is missing. Ingrid Stone is currently in our possession. You might be thinking this is a ransom note, and it is, of sorts.
We require you, Miss Stone. Because you have something we want and your mother does not, we are willing to trade her for you. This will only be a temporary trade and after we get what we want you'll also be released. If you cooperate no harm will come to you; however if you should contact the police, your mother will not survive. This is really a courtesy, as we could of just kidnapped you but its a lot easier to get cooperation when we have a hostage and you fully understand the stakes involved.
Come to Eric Stone Memorial Park tomorrow at eleven in the morning, or else we'll leave another package containing something a bit more personal you'd probably not like to see separated from its owner. Come alone of course, and meet us at Gazebo #4. It's far enough away from the parking lot that we won't be suspicious if you have someone drive you, and honestly we can't remember if you drive at all or not.
“Wait! Don't you dare spray me!” Erika almost screamed at Caitlin as she went white, clenching the letter and shaking slightly. Her raised voice caused Caitlin to lose her playful grin and frown in worry while Monica and Mary both practically ran into the room.
“What's going on?” asked Mary in concern, coming up and putting her arms around her lover.
“Mom's been kidnapped!” gasped Erika, again practically screaming, Caitlin moving to join the comforting group hug in response while Monica quickly took the note.
“Son of a bitch,” muttered Monica, reading the note in disgust. “I did get an email from the board that Ingrid was a no-show at this morning's breakfast meeting, but I figured she'd just slept in.”
“So its true?” gasped Erika, her eyes watering. While traumatic events had happened to Erika and her friends in the past, this was the first time her family had ever been directly threatened.
“I hate to say it, but almost definitely,” replied Monica, her voice grim. “I emailed your mother after I got the message from the board, and you know how she is with messaging. I was actually surprised when I got off the phone with the office that she hadn't replied yet.”
“Call her house, I'll take care of this note,” declared Mary, grabbing the hand-written message from Monica and collecting the envelope it came in. “There's no name or return address, but I can get this shipped to London by tomorrow morning for fingerprint analysis. The ITEA has access to all the big databases and they owe us quite a few favours, so we should hopefully know who we're dealing with before long.”
“Good thinking, I'll get on it,” answered Monica, heading back down the hall almost in a sprint. Caitlin stayed with Erika, holding her friend close.
“Hey, it'll be okay, we're friends with super-agents and all kinds of people who will kick some serious ass over this,” offered Caitlin, burying Erika's head in her robe as a few tears came free.
“No, no...” gasped Erika as she rubbed her face against Caitlin's robe, “I don't want mom’s rescue to involve ITEA. We'll do this one ourselves.”
* * *
Eric Stone Memorial Park, Santa Monica, California
One Day Later...
After Erika's father had died, Ingrid had arranged for nearly a million dollars to be used to create a beautiful park in his name, placing it centrally between where Erika and herself lived so they could both visit it with ease. The park was lushly landscaped, being full of trees and other plants, also possessing quite a few knolls. Gazebo #4 was in a secluded area of the park, away from parking lots and lacking a real path leading to it, which was most likely by Fire had chosen it as a meeting place.
Erika was sitting in the back of Monica's SUV with Mary, Caitlin being in the driver's seat. Due to how busy they'd been that night, none of them had bothered changing clothes and had barely even slept, though eventually they'd gotten around to playing with Jenny and Talieya before releasing them. Now Monica's on-board computer was active and had connected them with the ITEA HQ in London, where they were currently talking to lab technician Katie Grant. Katie was a brunette with shoulder-length full-bodied hair as well as a face that was a mix of cute and sexy, being somewhat round while possessing fine lips. Mary and Katie had corresponded a bit in the past, the young American often taking calls for Marika Bran when the science head wasn't in the labs. “So you've gotten results?” asked Mary, talking to Katie through an active two-way video conference.
“Yes, and its not a surprise this guy is in the FBI database,” revealed Katie, pressing a button which caused the picture of a brutal-looking man to appear on the screen. “His name is Derek Grisham,” continued Katie, in spite of no longer being visible. “He went to jail in 2007 for assault and other violent crimes, and is believed to be a member of a New York-based crime family. No record on which mob, but what's more interesting is he's supposed to still be locked up. I checked prison records, and reluctantly they admitted that apparently he vanished from his cell about a week ago. No trace.”
“He vanishes, and in a week he comes after my mother?” noted Erika, a bit surprised.
“I know, isn't that weird?” exclaimed Katie, reappearing on the screen. “The guy he was caught with is still in jail though, and he doesn't have any known associates in California. If you want I could turn this over to the analysts and see what they—”
“No, its fine,” interrupted Mary, knowing Erika's wishes about wanting to keep ITEA’s involvement to a minimum. “He's probably acting alone and after money or something simple like that. If he's still in the mob he's probably smart enough to actually want something tangible he can sell rather than just get a money transfer. We should be able to get the police in on this without a problem.”
“Are you sure?” asked Katie, clearly concerned. “Team Epsilon is available and can be there in less than half a day.”
“Just call Tasia if you don't hear from us by tomorrow,” replied Mary, shaking her head. “Thanks for your help Katie, I appreciate it.” Tasia Spiro was a member of IT who was currently suspended from duty and living in Malibu on Erika's dime; though she was a bit of a drifter and none of the four had seen her in the past few days. All any of them knew was she was seeing a guy named Tucker, though no one knew who he was or had met him.
“All right, be careful Mary, and the rest of you too,” offered Katie with a smile. “Be sure to be online tonight Mary, I want a rematch on our last Scrabble game!” With that, the computer screen went black for a moment before returning to the standard interface; Monica having ended the virtual call.
“I hate to repeat myself, but are we sure this is how we want to do this?” asked Caitlin for at least the seventeenth time since Erika made her decision to not call in the ITEA or any other law enforcement group.
“The fewer people involved the better,” insisted Erika, determined. “We can avoid the media circus as well as mom’s getting tied up with IT. Ever since we got away from the Foundation I've tried to keep my distance, not wanting her to learn what really happened. It's bad enough that people know what happened to all those celebrities we helped kidnap...”
“Alright, we'll do this for Ingrid,” agreed Monica, nodding firmly. Mary and Caitlin followed suit, and Erika let out a breath, opening her door.
“If you don't find her, remember to look around for any possible ambushes before coming back,” Mary reminded her girlfriend as she handed Erika a stick of gum. Erika smiled and nodded, putting the gum into her mouth, chewing and concentrating. Erika possessed what the ITEA called the Temporal Gene, a genetic quirk that, through intense concentration, allowed her to freeze time. As Erika chewed her gum and relaxed, her companions all froze inside the car, not that they were moving much to begin with; outside a nearby jogger halted in mid-stride, neither of his feet even touching the ground. The whole world was essentially frozen between one picosecond and the next, but they would never know it.
Reminding herself to focus on her mission, Erika headed out towards the designated gazebo, which was just over a small hill. The secluded spot was almost like a miniature valley, thus even from the top of the hill Erika could see something was wrong and, while remaining focused, ran towards the meeting place. Derek Grisham was there, wearing a red muscle shirt and tan cargo pants, sunglasses over his eyes, his arms crossed and a neutral look on his face. Ingrid was nowhere to be seen, but Erika did note a laptop sitting nearby, though it was closed, not that it mattered. Erika couldn't unfreeze objects while time was frozen, nor ensure they didn't freeze when she first stopped time unless they were in direct contact with her. The laptop, Erika assumed, contained either the location of her mother or whatever Derek wanted her to do.
Resigned to carrying out the meeting, Erika moved on to her secondary mission, electing to not get too close to Derek for fear of attacking him and unfreezing time, at which point the large man would probably crush her since she had no real fighting ability and he probably had at least some. Instead Erika followed Mary's recommendation and began searching around the park for other people, and surprisingly it didn't take long for her to find two who didn't belong. The first person she found was waiting up behind the gazebo and was mostly hidden by a bush, but it was clear to Erika that the person was dangerous as she, the subject clearly being a woman as she wasn’t wearing and kind of headgear, had a scope-equipped sniper rifle trained at the path where Erika would approach from. A second female sniper was also found also atop a different hill, this shooter capable of hitting Erika from the right as she would go to see Derek. Both women seemed familiar to Erika from somewhere, but she couldn’t recall where. Happy for Mary's advice, Erika returned to the SUV.
“I checked everywhere, mom isn't around but Derek Grisham and two snipers are,” revealed Erika after unfreezing time, spitting out her gum.
“What do you want us to do?” asked Monica.
“You and Mary can easily get the drop on them from behind using dart guns,” concluded Erika after thinking for a moment. “One's north of the meeting point and the other is east of it, and both can easily be seen from behind, you just need to sneak around the hills. I'll stop time again and have you both get in position, then I'll meet him and you'll come down to help. Caitlin should be good here.”
“I'm fine with that,” nodded Caitlin, being a total non-combatant, while Monica and Mary were both decent shots and could defend themselves in hand-to-hand as necessary.
“Alright, I'll get the guns,” declared Monica, getting out of her seat and, after opening the trunk, producing two modified Glock 17 pistols, both capable of firing Type-7 darts. The weapons were also the same kind that the ITEA used, though they wasn't the only dart gun in the organization’s arsenal. Once Mary and Monica were both armed Erika took a deep breath and stood between them, touching their shoulders. Since Caitlin didn't need to move she stayed in the driver's seat while Erika stopped time again, the nearby jogger who hadn't noticed the guns once again freezing practically in mid-air.
Erika quickly led Mary and Monica to the two snipers, Monica taking up position behind the redhead while Mary took the brunette. Guns didn't work while time was frozen so once the pair were in position they still had to wait for Erika to get back to her starting point and resume time before firing.
Once she was ready, Erika let out another large breath and time resumed once again, the blond then boldly strolled up over the hill she'd already crossed a few times to finally confront her mother's kidnapper. Much to her surprise however as Erika was nearly halfway down the hill, she heard what sounded like a muffled gunshot and then everything went dark.
* * *
Derek Grisham smiled as he saw Erika Stone come over the hill and, not even half-way towards him, suddenly freeze when a Type-7 dart hit her. Arriving over an hour ago, Derek had placed Carol and Merilyn, both wearing chips, as snipers with dart-equipped rifles, also giving them sidearms just in case. Sure enough both had reported via his headset radio to have disabled a target prior to his ordering Carol to shoot Erika, meaning that someone had tried to ambush both of his slaves only to get frozen themselves as being chipped they were immune to Type-7 immobilization. “Carol, Merilyn, take the ones you've disabled to the van and put them in the back, then come back here,” ordered Derek through his radio. “Disable anyone you see that isn't me.”
Glancing around, Derek watched his snipers emerge from their hiding spots and saw two young women, both with pistols, standing near them, both frozen in surprise. A dark-haired woman had gone into a sort of fighting stance, her left fist lower than her right with her arms ready to strike, her gun in her right. The redhead, whom Derek knew was probably Mary Hamilton, looked shocked, having stepped back with her arms raised, her gun hanging free as if she were ready to drop it. Both frozen women were carried away by the older snipers while Derek produced a Desert Eagle from his waistband as well as a chip from his pocket, leaving the prop laptop behind.
Erika was frozen with her right foot forward, her arms more or less loosely at her sides, her face frozen in surprise, with a large dart sticking out of her chest. “Bet you thought I was just some petty criminal,” chuckled Derek as he took a moment to touch Erika's breasts, that being a favourite thing of his when he had women helpless before him. If it wasn't for the need for urgency Derek might of done more, but instead he simply placed the chip on the back of Erika's neck, seating it in her spinal column; the device had already programmed for basic slave orders. Erika blinked but did not move.
“Will you obey?” asked Derek, getting a simple nod from Erika in reply, the woman holding her pose and even her expression for the moment.
“Take me to your car,” ordered Mr. Fire next, prompting Erika to turn around and head up the hill. Derek followed, concealing his gun behind Erika's back. The pair soon arrived at an SUV in the mostly empty parking lot and no one else was around, which was how Derek wanted it. A sexy redhead sat behind the wheel and looked at Derek in surprise when he approached with Erika in front of him.
“Erika!” exclaimed the redhead in a British accent, opening her car door. This was a mistake on her part as it allowed Derek to dart the British bird, freezing her with only half of her body sticking out from behind the door.
* * *
The Balfour Boutique, Beverly Hills, California
When he'd first gotten out of jail and been sent to do his work for Mr. Void, Derek had decided that the best place to use as a cover would be a place that used mannequins, allowing him to hide anyone he kidnapped frozen in plain sight. As it happened the man he'd roughed up when he'd come to LA two years ago had an ex-wife, Lexa Balfour, who ran a decently popular boutique in Beverly Hills. Derek had chipped Lexa a few days earlier and had her put her two staff members on paid vacation while she did some so-called renovations, leaving the store open for a few limited hours. Two women had also been in the store when he'd entered, so Derek had frozen them both and put them in a window display. With their Pilates-toned bodies and carefully made up faces, they fit right in as mannequins.
The sign in the small boutique now said 'closed' as Derek took a moment to admire his surroundings. In the window were Lisa Collins and Ginger Cladwell, their names taken from the driver's licenses in their purses, which were now stashed in the back. Lisa wore a white dress that didn't even come close to her knees and was strapless, barely covering her modest but well-proportioned breasts, the blond with the light complexion was posed as if checking the time, her right arm on her hip with her left out in front of her, her head tilted slightly downwards. Ginger, the aptly named redhead, wore a loose red dress with four spaghetti straps and yellow shapes on it that vaguely looked like palm trees, her right hand was running through her hair while her left hugged her chest.
The boutique did use a lot of mannequins, Derek honestly wondering where they all came from. There were over three dozen lifelike ones on the floor, plus another two dozen that were just the body, and the few items not on the display figures were hung up on the walls individually, leaving about one hundred outfits on display in total. The mannequins on the floor now included Monica, Mary and Caitlin as well as both Marilyn and Carol, the two older women having served their purpose. All five women now wore what they'd been wearing when they were captured and none of them had chips on, instead just being given an overdose of Type-7.
Monica was posed similarly to Lisa, except instead of looking down at a non-existent watch, Monica was looking up slightly while she held an invisible phone to her ear. Mary also had a similar pose to Lisa’s but it was her left hand on her hip and her right was gesturing away from her head to the side, her palm open. Caitlin had her hands clasped behind her back and was looking to the right with her head bowed, almost giving her schoolgirl sort of look. Carol was posed in mid-stride, her right foot forward along with her left arm, her face looking straight ahead. Finally there was Merilyn, who was actually holding a prop wineglass in her right hand with her left arm raised as if she was looking to call for a refill.
Lexa stood motionless behind the cash register, staring blankly ahead. A blond in her mid-thirties, Lexa was very attractive with shoulder-length blond hair and an even tan, dressed in a black turtleneck and white jeans. Noticing Lexa, programmed to react if a customer entered, looked a bit lifeless in her eyes, Derek pulled a pair of sunglasses from the counter and put them over the woman's gaze to hide the fact. Satisfied with the floor of the shop, Derek then headed into the back.
Besides a few unused mannequins and racks holding dresses in protective material, the back room of the boutique didn't offer much, just a desk with a computer and a small bathroom. Derek had managed to convert a side room into a crude lab, using two tables as makeshift beds. One each table lay a Stone woman, Erika was on one and Ingrid on the other, both flat on their backs with their arms and legs together, their eyes even closed making it almost look like they were sleeping, the lack of any distinguishable breathing being the only sign that either woman wasn't just taking a nap. Wires were tapped to both women, specifically their heads, and the sensors at the tops of the wires were sending information to a computer between the two family members, which was what Derek was interested in.
“Lets see just how much you share,” commented Mr. Fire as he began typing on the computer's keyboard, getting data on the two women and their genetic structure. Mr. Void had told Derek that Erika could stop time, and he'd told him to look for a specific dominant alleles in Erika's body, then compare them to Ingrid’s genotype. There were no records of Ingrid possessing the same ability, which was why this whole op had been arranged. Derek's ultimate assignment was to kidnap both Erika and her mother, check Ingrid for the time-stop enabling gene and, if she possessed it, kidnap her as well as Erika, or else do what he wished. Once he was ready to deliver Erika, Derek planned to take a few of the captured women with him and leave the rest as they were, actually curious to see how long it would take an un-chipped Lexa to notice that many of her display mannequins were human.
It took a few minutes of computer work but the results were found and Derek smiled at the revelation, promptly transferring the information to a USB drive and headed out of the room to the computer desk in the other area, which had an web connection. It was time for Mr. Fire to call Mr. Void.
* * *
Ingrid's eyes flickered open as she tried to figure out just what had happened. The last thing the woman remembered she'd been with her friends at her house, about to offer Merilyn a refill, and now she felt like she was in a hospital, but as Ingrid looked around she noticed she was in a small room and that the colours were all wrong. Figuring the nurse or whoever could sort it out later, Ingrid moved to remove the wires stuck to her head, wincing a bit as she removed them due to how sticky they were. After the last wire was removed Ingrid moved to sit up and was in for quite the shock.
“Erika?!” gasped Ingrid, quickly getting off what she realized was a table and moving to her nearby daughter, who appeared to be unconscious. Quickly removing the wires from her daughter's face, Ingrid then tried to shake Erika awake but found her surprisingly rigid and unresponsive.
“What is going on...” breathed Ingrid, extremely confused. Worried she'd been abducted, her first instinct was to look for her cell phone and, failing to find it, Ingrid tried the computer she'd been connected to, only to find it didn't have a connection to the internet. Cursing, Ingrid elected to carefully open the only door leading from the room and try to figure out where she was.
“... So the test was conclusive?” came a remote voice as Ingrid inched the door open, causing her to slide back but leave it open, curious as to what was going on. The voice was distorted, effectively disguised, but sounded male.
“Yes, Mr. Void, I've confirmed it,” announced another voice, definitely belonging to a man. “Ingrid Stone has the Temporal Gene, just like Erika does. It’s passed on the X-chromosome.”
“Well done Mr. Fire,” replied the first voice as Ingrid tried to understand what had just been said. She’d never been much interested in science, but working in the hospital she’d picked up some knowledge.
“There is more,” continued the voice identified as Mr. Fire. “I've determined Ingrid's power is latent; unrealized. If I had to guess, she's never tried clearing her mind and focusing.”
“Erika Stone did live a lonely childhood, so her head wasn't filled with social nonsense,” suggested Mr. Void in response. “In any event this is good news, as we were hoping to get a second sample of the gene...” Ingrid didn't hear any more of the conversation as she'd taken time to think about what had been said. The implication of focusing and clearing her mind would lead to a power of some kind becoming activated, at least according to the men who'd kidnapped Ingrid and her daughter. Curious, Ingrid tried just that, pushing extraneous thoughts out of her head, forgetting about upcoming charities, about stockholder meetings, about what was in fashion, about everything, and just focusing on wanting to know what was going on. Ingrid concentrated hard and suddenly felt what seemed like a rush of adrenaline; the voices outside suddenly stopped and everything seemed unnaturally quiet.
“What was that...” muttered Ingrid, then noticed the voices had stopped. Taking a deep breath, keeping her concentration, Ingrid pushed open the door, slowly, and stepped out, discovering a large pile of mannequins and a man in a muscle shirt and pants standing in front of a computer with a black shadow on the screen. The man, Ingrid noted, had his mouth open but wasn't saying anything, almost like he was a mannequin himself. Baffled, Ingrid moved closer and, bravely even poked the man, getting no response.
“You're just like Erika!” realized Ingrid in surprise, noting the man's stiffness. On the desk Ingrid saw some notes and, while curious about what was going around her, figured reading any documents might explain why her concentrating had made the man appear to freeze solid. Sure enough, Ingrid found a long journal about all kinds of things, including a drug called Type-7 and something called the Temporal Gene that apparently she as well as Erika possessed. Ingrid spent a good few minutes reading the notes and soon came to realize Erika had probably been drugged with Type-7 and, more surprisingly, that she herself possessed the ability to stop time through concentration alone.
“This is like some kind of science fiction movie,” breathed Ingrid, recalling a character on a show she watched called Paragons was able to do the same thing, though he could also teleport. Her head spinning, Ingrid casually noticed a gun and a small bottle that had been sitting near the notes and grabbed them both. Ingrid's mind was so shaken by all she'd just had to take in that her concentration slipped; with even the focus on helping her daughter becoming foggy as the woman tried to make sense of it all.
“What the hell?!” Mr. Fire suddenly exclaimed, surprising Ingrid and causing her to spin around, raising the gun. In her stupor Ingrid was now far closer to the door leading to the side room than the thug.
“Get out, now!” shouted Mr. Void, the computer monitor then going black as the muscle-bound man complied with the order, suddenly dashing to his right. In a panic Ingrid pulled the trigger, the large chrome weapon making a few subdued cracks of thunder as she tried to stop Mr. Fire. In a flash however Mr. Fire was out the door and Ingrid was out of ammunition, having missed wildly several times.
For several moments Ingrid stood by, worrying that Mr. Fire would come back, but ultimately she elected to drop the gun and head back to tend to her daughter. One bottle she'd determined, thanks to the label and some notes, contained a counter-agent to the Type-7 sedative, and since it seemed that only a little bit was required, Ingrid poured only a few drops down Erika's throat after opening it. A few moments passed and then the mother was rewarded with her daughter opening her eyes and blinking in confusion. “Mom?” asked Erika, slowly smiling.
“Hello little one,” offered Ingrid, hugging her daughter as she sat up. “I think we need to talk...”
* * *
“I could of handled her, she was just a MILF with a gun that she didn't know how to hold right,” complained Derek as he drove away from Santa Monica, heading for LAX. After running out of the boutique he'd practically dived into his car, gunning it in case Ingrid had come after him. Now Derek was wearing a headset as he talked with Mr. Void over a satellite phone.
“No, it was better this way,” insisted Mr. Void. “We would of liked you to hold onto them, yes, but we now know they both possess the Temporal Gene. You've done enough to earn a second chance with me, but next time make sure you don't under-dose a subject. Type-7 overdoses can't kill anyone, at least that we've seen, so there's no harm in going overboard. Remember that during your next assignment.”
“Next assignment?” asked Derek in surprise. “You're not going to let me try again?”
“The ITEA sent Erika the results of a DNA check they ran on the note you left her,” revealed Mr. Void. “They know your name, history, and criminal record; both have also seen your face. Again, I'm not about to, if you'll forgive the term, fire you, but I can't risk you continuing your current task. Come back to New York, I'll give you some downtime while your next assignment is prepared. It'll also give you some time to get revenge on the so-called family that abandoned you in jail...”
* * *
“So that's why you disappeared for all that time,” sighed Ingrid, having listened to Erika for over two hours. The small room in the boutique wasn't exactly ideal, but rational thinking wasn't on their minds at the moment.
“Yeah mom, and... I'm sorry I didn't tell you any of this before,” concluded Erika, giving her mother yet another hug.
“It's okay, I'm just glad I finally know why that meeting with that awful Mero woman went so strangely,” chuckled Ingrid, returning the embrace. The mother and daughter had finally reconnected, learning about a shared family secret and Ingrid even coming to better terms with her daughter's sexuality. It had been a very helpful talk.
“Come on, we should get out of here,” suggested Erika, leading her mother out of the room, pausing to collect the gun that had been dropped earlier. “I don't like these things, but maybe we should hang onto one until we can get a cab.”
“There's a pile of purses over there,” indicated Ingrid, motioning towards a small stack near the desk Mr. Fire had been using. As Ingrid moved to rummage through the pile, Erika peeked through the door that led to the storefront, where she saw the unusual collection of mannequins that included her friends and some of her mother’s.
“Hey... mom?” asked Erika, leaning back and grinning, “You might want to get some mannequin jokes ready, because you're going to love this...” Curious, Ingrid came out to look while Erika moved back to check the pile of purses, having spotted hers among them, which had most likely come from the SUV as she hadn't carried it with her when she was going to meet Grisham earlier.
“I'm not even sure which bad line to use first,” laughed Ingrid, having gone from the horror of seeing someone frozen into helpless statuary to amusement at their predicament now that the danger seemed to have passed. “Still, I'm wondering about how—” Ingrid’s question was promptly cut off when Erika used a perfume spray, naturally filled with Type-7 as it had come from Erika's purse, to freeze her mother mid-sentence. Ingrid stood holding the door open by the edge, leaning slightly to the right to get a better view of her friends and Erika's as display mannequins, an open-mouthed amused smile on her face. She would make an excellent mannequin herself.
“Sorry mom, but even after that great heart to heart I still need to be me,” offered Erika with a slight giggle, touching her mother's hair with affection for a moment before hooking her arms under Ingrid's and dragging her backwards on her heels, which was awkward but worked. Ingrid remained rigid as Erika continued to drag her back and into the side room they'd been tested in, her hands clinging her mom's shoulders from her armpits. Upon arriving in the side room, Erika let go and Ingrid wobbled on her feet for a moment before balancing upright, the daughter then taking a moment to straighten her mother's frozen posture before giving her a quick hug.
“Seriously though, it was a good talk,” whispered Erika, then promptly exiting the room and closing the door behind her. Collecting the antidote from her purse, Erika moved into the front room.
“Hi girls, sorry my plan didn't work, but hey, all's good now right?” Erika apologized as she walked among the human mannequins, addressing her friends and lover, though technically they all were her lovers. Before using the antidote however, Erika noticed Lexa, who was more or less standing at attention behind the cash register. Curious, Erika headed over to the other blond and, after a quick search, found and removed the chip, the woman hadn’t reacted at all.
“I guess I didn't trigger whatever you were programmed to do,” decided Erika with a shrug, not particularly caring and more interested in the woman's frozen form. Erika came around behind Lexa and ran her hands up the bottom of the woman's shirt, feeling her breasts and confirming no bra was present. Erika grinned but then glanced around, noting that Carol and Merilyn were also worth exploring, as were the pair in the window. With five new subjects worth exploring Erika realized she should be fair and unfreeze her friends, though she was worried they'd yell at her for getting them captured.
Things had turned out okay, but eventually Erika would have to tell them that it was Ingrid who'd saved them, and on a fluke. Someone did also have to locate a suitable vehicle at some point to transport everyone, lest they all be unfrozen in the boutique, leading to a lot of troublesome questions.
“You know what; too many cooks will spoil the broth,” declared Erika, pulling Lexa to the floor as she herself sat down, having taken the immobilized blond down while still holding her breasts. “I'll just have some fun now and let the others worry about the technical stuff after I'm done.” Erika grinned again, gently stroking Lexa's breasts underneath her top before removing it and rolling on top of the boutique owner. “I'll just have to make sure Monica doesn't go in the back, because I'm not letting her fool around with my mother again. I may be able to be classified as a nymphomaniac, but I'm not about to make this a family love nest!”
Ingrid Stone - Kim Cattrall
Carol Wilford - Melinda Clarke
Merilyn Kent - Julianne Moore
Derek Grisham AKA Mr. Fire - Chuck Lidell
Erika Stone - Hilarie Burton
Caitlin Trafford - Jewel Staite
Monica Stein - Shiri Appleby
Mary Hamilton - Sarah Lancaster
Talieya Antzas - Evelina Papantoniou
Jennifer Sleet – Peyton List
Katie Grant – Autumn Reeser
Lexa Balfour - Leslie Bibb
Mr. Void – Nolan North
with special appearances by Lisa Collins and Ginger Cladwell as themselves