Amber Smith looked at her computer screen and shook her head. Although she couldn’t tell where Danger Ace was broadcasting from, for security reasons, it was obvious that her commander wasn’t at her best. There were dark rings under her eyes, and her hair was slightly matted – but her expression was as steely as ever. “We have the information you needed.” Danger Ace said simply. “And recruitment’s doing well – we’re forcing responses across the globe, now. I’m thinking we can put your project into action by the end of the month.”
“That’s great.” Amber said. “Any luck on zeroing in on Ecchs’ base?”
“Not yet.” Katy-Ann shook her head. “He travels entirely by psiportal. It’s possible that no one except him knows where it is.”
“I doubt it.” Amber replied. “At the very least, he’ll have told Psiborg and Doctor Byron.”
“I certainly hope that you’re right, because…” Danger Ace broke off, looking past Amber. In the same instant, Amber felt light blossom at her back. In a burst of superhuman speed, she was over the desk and at the wall, drawing her laser and spinning to fight. In that moment, the room filled with dark blue, green and gold light, and a form folded itself out of space and into being. A long, grey cloak pooled around the floor, and a deep bronze hand lifted defensively.
“At ease, Timebender.” The woman in the cloak spoke. “I do not intend you harm.”
Timebender gaped. “Weltgeist?” She finally said.
“Indeed. It has been a year and a half since our last meeting, Amber Smith. It is good to see you.” Weltgeist looked past Timebender to the screen. “And you, Danger Ace. I apologize for my dramatic entrance, but I cannot locate you in person.”
“I would hope not.” Danger Ace said wryly. “We’ve put a lot of effort into keeping my location secret. How did you find Timebender?”
“I took care to place spells upon the Champions and the people of Malefico when I last met them. Unfortunately, Spencer Ecchs has already removed them from his own servants, but yours remain intact. Finding you was quite easy.” Weltgeist smiled slightly as she spoke. “I would have been less dramatic, but I cannot leave my tasks for long.”
“You look… different.” Timebender said slowly, not putting her gun down. “The last time we met, you looked like you were made of rainbows.”
“Quite. My body and being are composed of the world’s culture and ideals. I anticipated that Ecchs’ machine would alter that, but the process is occurring far more quickly than I had imagined. Worse, my spells are becoming… erratic.” Weltgeist frowned. “Ecchs attempted to restrict those forms of magic not in use by his own crew, but this goes beyond that. I fear that with his gross alterations to narrative law, he is wrecking havoc on the companion laws that govern the proper functioning of magic.”
“Meaning?” Amber said tentatively.
“Meaning that I anticipate that, if my transformation continues at its present rate, I will have changed completely within two more months.” Weltgeist said simply. “Currently, I am more ruthless than I was, and more subtle, but my goals are the same. I am in the process of removing myself from the chain of command of the forces holding the changes in narrative law at bay, and warning my former colleagues that I will not be trustworthy for much longer. I am also removing the tracking spells I originally placed on you.” She smiled sadly. “I expect that when my transformation is complete, I will attempt to overthrow Rex Mundi and take his machine for myself. That would be disastrous, both for my true role and for the world. I suggest that, whatever plans you have, you set them into motion at once.” Without waiting for a reply, her cloak collapsed inwards, falling into the floor. The light faded with it, leaving Amber alone in the room.
“Well… crap.” She finally said. “Why is it that the greatest heroes in the world always turn out to have some hidden trick that means I’m going to have to fight them?”
“You never had to fight Dudeman.” Danger Ace pointed out. She considered for a moment, then scowled. “Sounds like we’re stepping things up. Gather your troops, Amber. I want Ash out of commission by August. My people will take the time to isolate Mundi’s location, and to disable his psiporters.” She smiled reassuringly. “We’ve been preparing for this. We’re just moving up the timetable. We can do this, Amber.”
“Nothing to it.” Amber nodded glumly, and signed out. Then she went to tell her team that it was time to move.