Part 1 - Strangers in the night
Thunder and lightning lit up the sky as the storm shook and battered against the ships and buildings that lined the port area. The torrential rain that accompanied it assured an almost completely deserted location save for a lone figure walking along towards a building nearby . If anyone had been around, they would have noticed the tall woman walking by and dismissed her as another desperate prostitute or thief that frequented the dregs of back alleys and shelters.
However, underneath the long raincoat was the woman who quite literally appeared in this world just a short while ago. Created as a clone of an existing heroine, her ability to transform other heroines into a variety of lifeless objects proved quite fearsome in combat. Her list of vanquished opponents read like a who's who of the crime fighting heroines as she easily collected them for her master to assist in his grand scheme.
Things changed abruptly for them however; in a short time the Auctioneer was defeated by luck and she was on the run. Worse still, her plan to deliver a statuefied Shimmer to a rich collector went awry as the collector disappeared without a trace, leaving her very low on funds and lugging around an erotic female statue from place to place.
Tonight, she left the canvas-cloaked frozen figure behind at her rented room as she ventured forth to check out a local bar that supposedly catered to villains almost exclusively. Shapeshifter figured there must be a few folks there in need of a woman with her special talents in a profitable venture. Once she had obtained enough money, she figured she could set up a base from which she could plan her revenge against Power Girl and Catwoman, the architects of her current predicament.
Shapeshifter finally arrived at a two story building where two burly men stood outside the only entrance leading inside. The rain had not let up; if anything the wind was even worse. She approached the taller of the two and handed him her credentials, which consisted of newspaper clippings as well as a photo of her transforming a hapless hotel maid into a immobile statue made of red clay. The look of horror on the redhead's face over her impending fate was enough to cause the burly man to unconsciously step back and nod to his fellow doorman. The second man pulled out a piece of paper and, after handing it carefully to the villainess, he opened the door for Shapehifter to walk in. Both tried to keep well out of her reach.
The villainess boldly strode through the doorway into a large lobby area that looked far more elaborate than she had expected . Glancing down at the piece of paper she was handed, Shapeshifter saw it was a set of rules for the establishment:
1 ) No use of energy based powers are allowed inside the premises. Other weapons are allowed but patrons must not involve others in their use; that is, shooting of bystanders is discouraged.
2 ) If disagreements arise, patrons are encouraged to settle the dispute inside the building and are expected to assist in the clean-up / disposal of the aftermath.
3 ) There is no Rule #3. Questioning this fact is not recommended.
4 ) Any damage or injuries that are incurred by the employees or building as a result of your visit must be resolved and/or repaid before you leave. NO EXCEPTIONS!
Shapeshifter shook her head as she walked down the white tiled corridor. This place sounded a lot tougher than she had been led to believe but, she reasoned to herself, desperate times called for desperate measures. Her black leather thigh-high boots clattered on the hard floor as she reached the main meeting area and handed her soaking wet hat and coat to the coat check girl. The villainess sauntered into the large common area of the business amazed by the sights she took in.
There were roughly two dozen people scattered around the large high-ceilinged room, clad in a variety of costumes ranging from the routine to the ridiculous. She heard several arguing over who was the closest to achieving their plan of world domination before intervention by heroes or heroines. In the far left corner, she saw two men dragging a third man away. Dressed in a bright green turtle type costume, the man had obviously died from the gleaming knife sticking out of his back. The thrower, a tall thin man dressed in a blue outfit with bulls-eyes painted all over it, was muttering, "Consider your final debt paid, turtle freak!" Nobody else in the vast room seemed to be paying them the least bit of attention.
Trying to ignore the chaos around her, Shapeshifter approached the bar with as much swagger as she could muster. After ordering a rum and coke, she casually asked if there was anyone looking to acquire services such as hers. The bartender, a coarse-looking mid 30's woman with brown hair, looked around. "Well, the gentleman in the corner with the iron mask is recruiting for a planned visit to the country he was thrown out of. There's a few fellows looking for help in a diamond heist they're planning in Zurich. Oh, there is that new fellow in the booth off in the corner," the bartender said, nodding towards the table in question. "He's kind of a strange fellow.... calls himself the Puppet Master. He came in with two women a couple of hours ago and left word he was looking to hire a few people for a plan of his, but only those with unusual powers."
"Really? I'll have to chat with him and see if I can fit into his plans," the villainess murmured as she took her drink and walked over towards the indicated booth. Before she could get there, a outrageously attired extremely shapely woman stepped in the way, blocking her path to the table.
Shapeshifter was startled by the sight of this woman dressed completely in bright green from her form-fitting unitard to her shining gloves and boots. She had her hair and lipstick colored to match her bizarre outfit with her hair worn in a stylized flip partly covering the left side of her face. Shapeshifter did notice a look of pure evil on her lovely face unlike that of anyone else she saw in the bar and decided to tread lightly before dismissing this green gamine as a kook.
"Hello, Shapeshifter. My name is Viper. I am so glad to make your acquaintance," Viper stated venomously as she stared into the tall brunette's face.
Shapeshifter was a little surprised. "How do you know my name? I only recent becaerstarted out in my career," she inquired of the green clad woman. She wasn't about to reveal to Viper the fact that she was a clone of someone else.
Viper arched her eyebrow. "When you are head of a criminal super-organization that stretches from the suburbs of Los Angeles to the sewers of Istanbul, there is little that does not escape my attention; especially with regard to one such as you who came so close to defeating so many, " she murmured as she nodded to an acquaintance waving to her from across the bar.
Shapeshifter mentally twitched at the thought of unseen faces watching her actions. "I'm just about to talk to someone about a business transaction. Is there something I can help you with beforehand?" she said with as much confidence as she could muster.
Viper glared at her. "Be careful, dear. Dismissing me lightly when I desire to talk with you can prove to be most disruptive to your future. Please keep that in mind before you leave tonight!" the green-clad vixen threatened before stalking off towards other sinister characters in the bar.
"That is one scary bitch!" thought Shapeshifter as she resumed her path to Puppet Master's booth. When she neared it, she saw a fairly short bald man sitting in middle of the seating arc with a woman on either side of him. The one on the left was a striking redhead wearing a thin blue blouse that clearly showed she had no bra on underneath. Shapeshifter thought she recognized the actress from a few B-movies seen on the late night movie channels where the woman seemed to always be playing a busty sexpot type character.
Shapeshifter immediately recognized the woman on the right, a dishwater-blonde woman in her mid 20's, as a regular player on the professional tennis circuit whose success on the courts was far less prominent than the famous men she was seen wining and dining afterward. She seemed oblivious to the fact that her blouse was unbuttoned to the point that her firm, tanned, chest was clearly visible to anyone around and her miniskirt had ridden up her muscular thighs to the point where it her thong panties could be glimpsed.
The thing the transmuting villainess found strangest of all was how this rather homely bald man, with no discernible signs of wealth or charisma, had two beautiful women fawning all over him. She coughed briefly as she stood before the trio before extending her gloved hand forward.
"Excuse me for intruding but I am known as Shapeshifter. I believe you're looking for people with unusual abilities to help you out with some plan or goal of yours and I'm glad to introduce myself as just the person you've been searching for," the villainess said boldly as she passed over the credentials she had shown the doorman.
The bald man leaned forward and accepted the papers offered to him. " Shapeshifter, is it? I must admit I've never heard of you or know anything about what you can do," he muttered as he glanced through the papers he held in one hand while openly fondling and caressing the redhead's voluptuous body. She snuggled closer to the unlikely villain and sneaked a peek at the pictures he held.
Trying not to notice the blank looks on the two women's faces, Shapshifter looked down at the man. "I may not be the most dangerous or well known person in this bar tonight, but I can surely acquit myself in a fight pretty well." she boasted loudly.
Puppet Master nodded slightly as he looked through the news clippings and photos. "Yes, judging by these items you can handle yourself against most heroes quite effectively. However, it 's your ability to transform the people that you fight that has me most intrigued. Going by the vague interviews a few of your "victims" gave after being restored, yours seems to be a most powerful capacity indeed. Of course, I will want to see evidence first-hand of your transforming someone I select before I would consider letting you sign on for my undertaking," he said assertively.
Slightly annoyed by the thought of having to prove herself, Shapeshifter decided to turn the discussion around. "Before we discuss that, how about you tell me about yourself instead. For example, how did you get these two women to accompany you and accept your advances? Drugs? Hypnosis? Something else maybe?" she inquired. "It certainly isn't your looks or charm!"
Puppet Master arched his left eyebrow in mild surprise. "You are quite the brash one, Shapeshifter. Well, I'll tell you a little about myself. My father some years ago acquired a quantity of radioactive clay which he found had very unusual properties. He found that when he sculpted the clay into the likeness of someone he recently had contact with, he could control that person's physical actions like they were puppets on a string. Under that control, they could be made to do literally anything without regard to life or limb. Armed with this ability, he set out to take revenge on those who had shunned or looked down upon him in the past. In the process he came into conflict with several well-known groups of heroes," the bald man related. " After numerous defeats, he retreated in shame to his estate and now lives in seclusion. He passed on the secret of the clay to me which, with a few modifications, I now use for my own benefit and amusement," he said, running his hand down the blonde's face to her neck and chest before resting it on top of her mounded breasts.
"Now, then, to prove..." Puppet Master started to say before he was interrupted by the approach of Viper who handed him a piece of paper.
"Here are the names of my operatives you inquired about and their prices. Please contact me if you wish to employ any of them," Viper stated. After shooting Shapshifter a menacing look, she stalked off towards the rest room without waiting for a reply.
"Cold bitch!" thought Shapeshifter to herself. Suddenly, she realized a way of proving herself to the Puppet Master and teach the green clad witch a lesson. She leaned forward and whispered for a few seconds to the Puppet Master, gesturing in the direction of the washroom. After waiting for about 30 seconds or so, she walked towards the washroom herself carrying a small disposable camera in her left hand.
"...listen to me, you stupid bimbos, either you carry out your job and eliminate that bothersome Spider-Woman or the money I paid you will be used by your next of kin in the near future to pay for your funerals!!" Viper snarled into her cell phone before she slammed it back into her purse. "I must have been out of my mind when I hired those idiots who call themselves the Sisters Grimm to assassinate one of my foes. Next time, I'll do the job myself and be sure it's done right!"
Seething, Viper walked to the sinks in the deserted washroom and began to check over her makeup for her next confrontation with the Puppet Master. "Maybe I'll set it up so I can get rid of Spider-Woman and that Shapeshifter at the same time," she thought to herself as she applied a fresh coat of green lipstick while gazing into the mirror. Suddenly she found it quite odd that, despite the fact she knew she was the only person in the washroom, it felt like there was a pair of hands were moving up and down her trim body; lingering on and caressing her in certain private areas. To her further puzzlement, she noticed her nipples were growing hard and poked against the stretchy nylon top of her outfit.
Mentally dismissing the erotic experience as a little too much to drink, Viper turned to leave but found her legs unresponsive. Her feet remained rooted to the spot. Worse still, she found herself growing cold despite the warm spotlights in the ceiling, as though someone was dripping an ice cube down her back. She tried to reach down with her arms, but they also were not moving in the slightest. She was completely paralyzed!
Viper tried yelling out to one of her aides or bodygaurds but found herself unable to speak at all. As she stared at herself in the mirror, she saw her smooth skin changing from flesh color to transparent ice with fracture lines running all up and down her arms. Suddenly, a familiar face appeared out of the shdows in the mirror behindthe transfixed villainess. Shapeshifter !
"Hello, Viper. You thought you were going to be teaching me a lesson for not bowing to you or kissing your ample ass. Well, the tables have turned and it looks like I'm going to be the one putting you... on ice!" Shapeshifter chucked mockingly as she began to strip the frozen woman of her outfit. The icy effect had turned her lips, eyeshadow, and hair a glacial blue-green.
"Her..life.. won't..be worth.. colldd...killll... rrrgghh...shhhap.. bbbb.." thought Viper to herself before the icy transformation completely engulfed her. Her face was frozen solid with a look of anger and shock at her state with her hands partly brought up still in front of her. The only trace of her humanity was the earrings she still wore and a skull tattoo that was still visible on her left buttock.
After stripping the motionless semi-transparent statue of all her clothes and throwing them in the washroom's garbage can, Shapeshifter lingered for a second to inspect her latest masterpiece. She ran her hands down the smooth glistening torso of the sculpture, marveling at how perfect it looked. She flicked her tongue over the hard nipples, sucking gently on the slowly melting nubs before moving down to the frozen strands over the statue's sex. She bit one off like a kid biting off an icicle and savored it slowly, relishing in the helplessness of her victim.
Standing back up, Shapeshifter took a few quick photos of the Viper ice statue before she headed back out of the washroom. She stopped at the door and looked back. "Take care, Ice Princess! I hope things don't get too warm for you or you'll wind up cooling off someone's vodka martini! Hahaha!! " she chortled.
Stopping just after leaving the washroom, Shapeshifter turned and slightly wrenched on the bathroom door, effectively wedging it closed to everyone temporarily. She then walked out of the bar where the Puppet Master was waiting with his two enthralled "dates".
"Thanks for making Viper think she was alone in the washroom, Puppet Master. As requested, here's your proof of my powers," Shapeshifter exclaimed, tossing him the disposable camera. "Shall we be going, before Viper's aides discover her current state and try to liquidate her assets?"
Puppet Master nodded with a smile. "Call me Carl, Shapeshifter. If these pictures show what you said you can do, you'll work quite nicely for my plans. We'll meet again tomorrow to discuss things. Is there somewhere I can drive you in the meantime?" he asked as he climbed into the waiting limousine.
"The Reid Motel, if you don't mind," Shapeshifter replied. " Oh, and a small favor, if it's not too much to ask..."
Puppet Master looked up from caressing the redhead's long nylon clad legs."Yes?"
"Can you lend me your blonde tonight, for some... FUN?" Shapeshifter whispered slyly.
Next : The plan and its first steps