GD Minus 10: Enter Stage Left
A Fan Fiction by Jason Low
OAKWOOD JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
9:40 AM, MONDAY 15 OCTOBER
The grade eight homeroom was in a ruckus, as usual. The teacher had stepped out for just a few minutes, and as a result, the room erupted into chaos, with paper airplanes and notes flying to and fro.
For the most part, the airborne debris was at an altitude that put it out of the way of the few who still wanted to do their work. For one rapidly-growing student, however, the missiles were well within her personal airspace.
"Ow!" Britanny Diggers exclaimed, wincing as a paper airplane jutted directly into her ear. She flinched and shook it free, rubbing her ear and flexing it experimentally, determining there was no injury. "Who threw--"
"Darn! You got the cat-girl right in the ear," someone laughed. Then: "Betcha can't do that again!"
"Stop iiit!!" Brit shouted, flailing her arms at the sudden barrage of airplanes, pencils, and erasers tossed at her.
"Lay off her!" Danielle Carter insisted, standing up and putting her hands on her hips, frowning defiantly at the tormentors. This only resulted in her becoming their new target. "Oww!!"
Dani looked for the nearest thing to throw, and came up with a crumpled ball of paper in her left hand. She glanced at it, then at the kid who'd hit her, and she flung it at him with all her might.
"Aaaagh!" he yelled, dropping to the floor in an obvious acting display, rolling around in supposed agony. Dani felt a presence behind her and turned just as she heard a voice raised in horror.
"Now look, grade eights!" the teacher shrilled, arms folded across her chest, frowning fiercely. "You should all be ashamed of yourselves! Miss Carter, you know the drill."
"Yes, Ms. Brunswick," Dani said, hanging her head and heading for the principal's office.
"I'm disappointed in you, Miss Carter," the principal said, frowning across his desk, looking down over his glasses at the student seated there. "Normally you're such a model student. Lately, though, you've been much more quick to anger. Is there a bully problem? We can help--"
"It's okay," Danielle mumbled, looking at her feet.
"We should nip this in the bud," he urged.
"I just want these jerks to stop bugging my friend," Dani complained. "Just 'cause she's different.."
"I see," the principal nodded. "We'll make sure Ms. Brunswick has a discussion with your homeroom about this."
"But, sir--" Dani protested, knowing that would do no good, and probably only serve to intensify the tormenting.
"I suggest you leave the punishing of the miscreants to the people suited to that task," the principal said, gesturing for Danielle to go. "Namely, your teachers."
Britanny caught up with her friend a short while later in the auditorium, where the class was preparing for the rehearsal for the autumn pageant, or, the fall play. Instead of a Shakespearean story or a school staple like Bye Bye Birdie, the students put in charge of the play had dreamed up their own story to use. The class was abuzz with energy, eager to make the production work. Because of the level of excitement, the teachers had arranged for any equipment the students said they needed, including a tube-frame superstructure to hang lights, curtains, props, and even a sling harness to lift one of the characters and toss them across the stage.
"Everything okay?" Britanny asked as Dani came into the gym.
"Yeah," she said with a weak smile. "Thanks. You all right?"
"They haven't been able to hurt me yet," the werecat said softly. She was, of course, referring to the bullies and tormentors who picked on her just because she looked different.
"Good," Dani smiled, and was about to say more, but was cut off by the teacher.
"Glad to see you could join us again, Miss Carter," she said with some sarcasm. "Now let's all get started!"
In a few minutes, the class had moved from oooh'ing and aaah'ing at the expensive rented gear to testing it out, going through some of the more technical procedures so they knew they could handle them. The resident A/V geek was working the lights, bringing spots and floods and gels up and sweeping them across the stage. Once that was done, he tested the sound system, while the principal actors and the directors examined the harness and swing system.
"This is awesome!" a boy said. He gave a tug on the steel cable that attached the harness to the pulleys up above. "Check this out."
"Hey, careful," one of the directors suggested, putting her hands on her hips. "Don't wreck it before we get to use it."
The boy released his grip on the cabling. "I'm not gonna hurt it," he countered, holding his arms wide.
"Hey! Look out!" someone else yelled. The group looked up and gasped and screamed, as the superstructure began to collapse.
The teacher gaped in shock, unable to do anything but watch, as the students ran away from the crashing equipment. With a cacophony of sound and lights (which quickly went out), the whole issue collapsed in on itself, the heavy black curtains billowing up and then down over the whole mess, as if blanketing the broken framework with a burial shroud.
Everyone turned out to be okay; they all got out safely and without injury. The structure was disentangled by the janitorial staff and re-erected, piece by piece. Not once was the topic of canceling the play breached; the entire situation was considered a fluke accident, and before anyone could dwell on it too much, the set was being rebuilt and the cast and crew were being urged to go on with their plans.
Two people weren't quite ready to pass it off as such, though. Danielle Carter frowned as she looked at the debris being extricated and reassembled. "Brit, c'mere and look at this."
"What's up?" the furred friend asked, walking over.
Dani gestured to the framework being put back together. "Notice anything missing there?"
Brit sighed. "You know I'm not good at this kind of stuff, Dani," she said, bapping her friend on the back of her head. "Just come out and say it."
Dani rubbed her head with a faint smile and pointed with her free hand. "There's no cross-brace for the front legs. It's gone."
"Where is it?"
"Not here," Dani said. "I looked over the pile three times. And I know it was here yesterday, 'cause I helped put it in. I remember Ms. Brunswick saying it was a crucial part, and not to forget it."
"So what're you saying?.." Brit trailed off.
"I'm saying someone doesn't want this production to succeed." Dani frowned and folded her arms across herself again, looking around at the room. "Someone here feels threatened by the play's success."
"So let's tell Ms. Brunswick," Brit said, heading that way.
"No," Dani urged, grabbing for the only thing still in reach--Brit's tail--and tugging back towards her.
"Ow!" Brit yelped, turning around and coming back to Dani's side. "What was that for?"
"This is a serious matter, and they"--she gestured to the teacher--"won't treat it like that," the young human girl said firmly. "She'll just do her 'now look' routine and say if the bad guys return the part, there'll be no punishment. You know who removed it, and so do I. And they need to be dealt with. We're the only ones who can do this." She looked up at her feline friend. "Are you in?"
"Yeah," Brit nodded after a second. "Of course, Dani. You don't have to ask. Don't you think we'll be in trouble, though?"
"I don't think I can live with myself if we don't do this," Dani said. "There's some risk involved, but if we pull this off, we'll have done good, regardless of what others say." She nodded. "But you're right. Ms. Brunswick and Mr. Belsey have put me on warning for this morning. So we can't get caught."
"So how are we gonna do this?" Brit asked.
Dani's lips slowly formed a grin. "I have a plan," she said slowly.
VERY EARLY TUESDAY MORNING
Brit snuck into the forest near the school silently. She felt a little silly, but felt a bit of a thrill coupled with it as well. (It's just as well we're doing this undercover,) she told herself. (If any of my friends saw me like this...)
She'd found recently that her eyesight in the darkness was exceptional. She could see things that 'mere mortals', as she liked to joke, couldn't. And what she was able to see in the darkness right now was..
"Oh, my gosh," Brit giggled, covering her grin with a gloved hand. She waited for the figure in the distance to slowly make its way to the meeting point.
Brit waited almost six minutes for Dani to arrive, as she had to take her time to stick to the shadows and avoid detection. When she got there, she said in a stage whisper, "I have arrived."
"So you have," Brit smirked, looking her friend up and down. "Where did you come up with that?"
Brit's friend was in a monochromatic outfit. The predominant color was pink, with white trim; a short-sleeved pink shirt had been adorned with a white four-pointed star centered around the upper chest, with points reaching the collar, waistline, and both sides. A pair of jeans had been dyed pink, the same shade as the shirt. An old sheet had been sacrificed and dyed the same way, pinned around her shoulders like a cape. She wore knee-high boots and gauntlet-style gloves, also matched to the same color, and on her face, she wore wraparound daylighter sunglasses, the kind that amplified the ambient light and enhanced night vision. "Here," she said, handing a similar pair to Brit.
"I don't need--" Brit began, but decided to just take the glasses and give them a shot. "Thanks," she said, putting them on and letting her eyes adjust. "What do you think of mine?"
"Interesting," came the reply. Britanny had a pair of high yellow boots on, with matching elbow-length gloves, all encircled with green strips of cloth to tie them in place. Britanny had a closet full of stretchable clothes, what with her new abilities to change size and shape so dramatically. She had a one-piece suit of yellow, short-sleeved on the shirt part, and high-cut like a swimsuit on the bottom. On the shirt, she'd painted a green lightning bolt, leaving an area in the middle unpainted to form a large capital 'C'.
"You look like you've been planning this for a while," Brit was told in an even tone, with a smile.
"Eheh," Brit sweatdropped, grinning. "It's funny, y'know.. ever since I got my strength and speed, playing superhero is something I've always wanted to do, Dani."
"Fine, but remember, tonight is no game," came the serious response. "And I'm not Dani."
"What??" Brit said, looking at the garbed, cloaked figure before her. She tentatively sniffed the air, sure she'd matched Danielle's scent..
"I am," the figure said, with a toss of her hair before pulling out a large hat and setting it atop her head, "the Pink Avenger."
Brit blinked, then laughed aloud; the Avenger grinned, striking a pose with the final piece of her costume in place--the hat Britanny had given her a short time before as a present.
"Ready now?" Brit said to the Avenger.
"Not quite," she said. "We need to invoke your new name as well."
"And it is?.." Brit said.
Avenger smiled. "The Cheetah," she declared.
Brit hmm'ed. "That's what I was thinking too," she giggled, pointing to the C on her chest.
"Then let's get underway," Avenger said, heading for the school.
Cheetah nodded and gave chase.
(This is not much of a disguise,) Brit--or, rather, Cheetah--reflected as she approached the main doors of the school. (Anyone who sees me is going to know who I am right away.) She settled into some bushes and lay in wait.
(Oh well,) she said, lying still and focusing on her panoramic view of the school grounds. (With my speed I could be in and out of there so fast, no one will know what happened.)
Danielle--Avenger--had all but vanished after the two of them had split up. (How does someone that brightly dressed get that invisible so fast?) Cheetah wondered. The girl was really getting into this, and taking it really seriously.
They'd located the missing part that afternoon, and loudly declared so to the teacher. Ms. Brunswick summarily scolded the students for forgetting such a crucial part, even after being told it was so vital, and supervised its installation back into the structure.
Brit and Dani had watched the class surreptitiously while all this was going on, but if anyone was upset at the part having been found, they weren't tipping their hand.
Through it all, Dani remained patient, urging Brit to relax and let their plan come to fruition. She reassured Brit that it would all work out in the end.
(She'd make a good cop,) Cheetah thought to herself. (Though I don't know if I would.. I can't sit here like this for too much longer. If these rats're gonna do this, I hope they do it soon.)
As if on cue, two figures garbed in black snuck up across the school's front lawn at that moment. Brit watched as they went around to the gymnasium, hoisting one another up on the dumpster to access the nearby window, which they pushed open and went through.
"Bingo," Brit whispered, waiting a few moments before unhiding herself and following their trail.
The two darkly-dressed young men wriggled down from the window by using the gym's climbing rope, which they'd ensured was hung near the window earlier that day. They got to the stage and snuck through the curtain, trying not to disturb anything, so that their presence overnight would go unnoticed the next day, when the play was about to go into full swing..
"There it is," said the one to the other. He pointed and his partner nodded, spying the cross-brace at the same time.
"Let's get it and stash it somewhere those stupid girls'll never find it this time," the second one suggested.
"Like the shower?" the first one said, and both of them laughed at the crude joke his comment implied.
"This'll show them," the one said a few moments later as they were unbolting the support. "These stupid plays're boring and pointless. If this flops, maybe people will pay more attention to the interesting stuff."
Suddenly, a voice rang out from high above. "Like your throwing three interceptions last week, Mr. Lang?"
Before either of the culprits could react, a spotlight from above clicked on, bathing the two in a circle of light. Not just any light, mind you; a gel had been inserted in the lamp, making the illumination a rosy pink in color.
"Who's that? Who's there?!" the first one, apparently Mr. Lang, demanded.
"Your worst nightmare," the voice came from beside the light. Momentarily, as their eyes adjusted, they could see a girl standing on the superstructure that the lights and harness were bolted to. She was wearing a hat and cape, and all of it was absurdly pink.
"What the--" the other boy said.
"I am a defender of justice," the girl said. "One of the few who will stand up to the likes of you. I am here to put an end to your shameful, bullying days."
"I am," she said, "The Pink Avenger."
Cheetah wriggled her way through the window and hopped down, seeing the light and hearing the voices over on the stage. From this angle, through a crack in the curtain, she could see the two kids looking up at the superstructure above, gaping in shock.
They were two of the football players, she realized. And the two biggest troublemakers in school! Bullying and terrorizing other students were just a couple of their favorite pastimes. If they could put the scare in these two, and deal with them permanently, school would for sure be a better place!
Cheetah looked around for something to corral and detain the two with, even as she headed over towards the stage. About the only thing she could see was the stage curtain itself, and she didn't want to use that, for fear of wrecking the stage set again.
Just then, the two boys turned and started to run. Cheetah steeled herself, about to lunge and snatch up at least one of the no-gooders, when a rope snaked out like a whip towards the pair.
"Hey!" Lang's partner, Mr. Smith, shouted as he felt himself get ensnared. He couldn't say another word, as he became winded when he was slammed against Lang by the force of the rope tightening around him.
The two were hauled back towards the stage and held fast, despite their struggling. Suddenly, a yellow-and-green-costumed cat-girl they both recognized ran up and through the curtains.
"Let us go!" Lang demanded.
"D.. Avenger!" Cheetah called out, looking up to the framework and seeing her friend gripping the other end of the rope tightly.
"Got'em," Avenger grinned, though clearly struggling.
"Hang on, I have an idea," Cheetah said, and scampered up the heavy drapes, climbing onto the framework and making her way over to the Avenger. Taking the rope, she tugged on it a few times, hoisting it up, and tying it off to the structure.
"I like your thinking," Avenger grinned. "Now I have something of my own to add.."
The janitor opened the front doors of the school and whistled as he unlocked everything and opened it up. As he headed down the hallway towards the gym, he thought he could hear some shouts.
"What the.." he murmured through his thick moustache, and hurried that way.
He burst into the gym, the cries for help getting louder and louder as he approached the stage. There, at center stage, illuminated by a pink shaft of light, suspended six feet off the ground, tied up in a rope, were two boys clad in black, with a note pinned to the rope just out of their reach.
The janitor stared in disbelief at the sobbing young men, who proclaimed over and over how sorry they were and that they'd confess to everything--whatever that meant. The janitor leaned in close and read the note:
To whom it may concern:
Please enclosed find two (2) bullies who are responsible for ruining the rehearsal for tonight's play.
They have been captured before they could ruin anything more, courtesy of the Pink Avenger.
Britanny walked into the classroom just as the bell rang. It was eerily quiet, save for a muted buzz amongst seatmates. Gone was the throwing of paper airplanes and erasers; now the only thing being tossed about was the rumor that someone had caught and taken care of the two losers who had been giving everyone so much grief.
Brit passed Dani's desk and was amused to see the young lady had a wide-brimmed, pink hat pulled low over her face. It was there mainly to shield her red, sleepy eyes from the teacher, but couldn't do a thing to obscure the broad, proud grin she wore.
Brit patted her friend on the shoulder as she sat down across the aisle. She knew that neither she nor Pinky, as she now thought of her friend, were in danger of being 'outed'. The bad guys certainly weren't going to admit they had been bested by a pair of girls. And so, they would be punished for their bad deeds, and things could go on, especially the play everyone had worked so hard on.
"Now look, grade eights," Ms. Brunswick said, as she entered the room. Caught off guard by the relatively sedate conversations going on, she stumbled over her words for a moment. "I.. there is.." She ahemm'ed and started over. "I have an announcement to make. The ruffians responsible for damaging the stage set yesterday have been caught and will be seeing the detention hall in their future for a long time to come. So, the play will continue as planned tonight."
The class erupted in cheers, though none as loud as the people who had worked hard at getting the play set up and ready for the performance that night. Through it all, Dani sat, hands folded on her desk, hat pulled low, still unable to cover up the seemingly-permanent grin on her face.
THREE HOURS EARLIER
LEAVING THE GYMNASIUM
"So what are we going to tell the principal?" Cheetah asked.
"Nothing," Avenger said after a brief pause for thought.
"Nope," Avenger shook her head. "There's no reason to do anything. Sometimes this is a thankless job. Word will travel, though, about the Pink Avenger and her trusty sidekick, and how they're not to be messed with."
"Yeah--" Cheetah began, then cut herself off. "Hey, wait! Sidekick??"
Avenger giggled. "Okay, okay. Partner?"
"Deal," Cheetah grinned, shaking her friend's hand. "We gotta get home and get some rest before school, though, partner!"
Avenger nodded, and said, "No one said this was going to be an easy thing, being a superhero."
"You are nuts, you know that?" Cheetah said.
"Yeah," Avenger grinned. "But I'm the right kind of nuts."
The two of them headed off towards their homes, amid the early sunrise, which tinted the clouds a brilliant pink.