Hellfire III: The Flames of Hell Released
Trisha had never seen Emilia so worked up. Every now and again little wisps of flame would flicker amongst her strands of hair threatening a flare up. Emilia was walking back and forth across Trisha's living room gesturing wildly as she explained in great detail how to prepare and cook a certain female terrorist. Trisha decided to put a stop to her before her ceiling was engulfed in flames. She stepped into Emilia's path and put out a restraining hand. Emilia hadn't even noticed that Trisha had moved, and ran into her outstretched hand with a surprised jolt.
"Uh...," she managed to utter, having lost her train of thought. She blinked a couple of times. "Was there something you wanted to say?"
Trisha smiled and shook her head. "You were getting a little hot under the collar," she signed carefully. "I don't have fire insurance."
Emilia looked a little sheepish. "Sorry."
Trisha put an arm around Emilia's shoulders and hugged her. "You were taken off guard," signed Trisha. "It's natural to be ticked, but don't let it throw your focus. Next time, you'll be ready for her."
Emilia nodded. "Hans would call this one of my kamikaze diva moments."
Trisha arched an eyebrow, and Emilia laughed.
* * *
The last thing I remember is trying to seal a breach in the plasma conduit and...
The voice stopped. Gerald strained to listen.
Oh, shades, the voice whispered. I'm dead, aren't I?
"Uhm," said Gerald. "You sound pretty much alive to me."
Well, I might as well be dead. No offense, but I'm stuck inside a primitive alien.
"Oh, well excuse me," groused Gerald. "I didn't ask for this. It just happened."
I know. I was there. Mostly. I figure I was demolecularized and got beamed into you somehow. I've never heard of it happening before, but it's the only explanation.
"So you were an engineer?"
Chief engineer. I was the best. The voice paused. Was the best.
Gerald could hear the sadness in the voice and was feeling a little blue himself. He hadn't intended to destroy someone's life when he wanted to become a superhero.
Hey, it's not your fault, consoled the voice. If anything, it was my stupidity that got us into this. They told me it was too dangerous to try and seal the breach myself, but I thought I was invincible.
Gerald smiled to himself. He certainly understood that feeling. That's what drove all pre-teens. That feeling of invincibilty that so often gets them into trouble. Or so his mother said.
"So, what's your name?" asked Gerald.
You already know.
"No, I don't."
Think about it for a minute.
Gerald thought about the voice, and a name appeared in his mind. "Matahn! Your name's Matahn."
See. Our minds a conjoined. I know what you know, and you know what I know. It just takes some time to sort everything.
Gerald sat quietly for a bit. He was in his room sitting in the center of his bed and staring at himself in the dresser mirror. "So, you didn't have all those cool powers, either."
No. At first, I thought it was you, but now I realize that it's us. Apparently, our combined brain power created those abilities. As for the tough skin, I suspect the increased cellular density since we are in effect two bodies combined. But I'm no biomedic.
"It's so strange talking to a different person inside you head."
You're telling me?
Gerald took in a deep breath. "So, now what?"
Hey, it's your planet. Besides, I think you already know. You have your heart set on being a hero. I think that's sweet. A touch naïve, but sweet.
Because there's no way you're going to stop normal human behavior. If people want to be criminals, then they're going to be criminals.
"Well, then I'll have job security," said Gerald beaming a smile. Even though he couldn't see her, Gerald could just imagine Matahn sighing and shaking her head, just like his mom would do when she'd given up on explaining something to Gerald. "Look," began Gerald, "the point isn't to stop crime for all time. I know that's unrealistic. The point is to help people out when there's no one else around who can help them. To be indispensible. Besides, I won't be alone out there."
Gerald could practically feel Matahn sifting through his thoughts this time. You mean all those people go out and stop crime?
"As far as I know."
Why do they do it? What's in it for them?
Gerald smiled. "Haven't you ever helped someone and gotten satisfaction from knowing you made that person's life a little better? Besides, if I'm gonna be leading a double life, I'm gonna at least have some fun in one of them!"
Then do me a favor, said Matahn. Take advantage of my knowedge. You have electrokinetic powers. There are some possibilities there. We're going to have to do some test work. Find out your limits.
"You got it, coach," said Gerald. "I know just the place, too. Tomorrow is a Saturday. We can start early."
* * *
Hellspawn had been scouring the city for the past twelve hours. She checked every abandoned structure or deserted district she could find. Still, there was no sign of X-Ra. What she needed was help, but the others were busy with their normal daily routines. One can't been a hero all the time, after all.
Hellspawn decided to call it a day. She didn't have any photo shoots lined up for a week. There would be time still to look for her adversary. Swiftly she made her way home. As she landed onto her hotel room's balcony, she looked about ro make sure no one was obsrving her. She ran her hand over her head and doused the flames which appeared whenever she became Hellspawn. Then she walked into her room. What she needed now was a quick shower and perhaps some sleep.
Just as she started toward the bathroom, the phone rang. Emilia pick up the receiver.
"Alright. You win, Emilia. Though why you want to work in a nowhere town like Monument City is beyond me."
"Hans?" asked Emilia.
"Who else would it be. Look, I was able to persuade Moco Cosmetics to relocate your shoot in Monument City. Turns out they were planning to open up a new sales market there anyhow. You'd be their flagship campaign on the East Coast."
"Hans, you're the best."
"Ah, you just got lucky, kid," grumbled Hans. "Don't expect breaks like this to pop up every day."
"Hans, thank you so much. You have no idea how important this is to me."
"You got that right. Models. Sheesh."
A click informed Emilia that Hans had ended their conversation. She was excited. She was staying in Monument City after all. With renewed energy, she danced into the bathroom, brushed her teeth and jumped into the shower. Sleep was the last thing on her mind now. She decided to visit Trisha and tell her the good news. As she squeezed into a pair of jeans, a thought crossed her mind. This X-Ra knew who she was. She certainly had a good look when she hit Emilia with that freeze grenade. She couldn't visit Trisha now. That was out of the question.
Emilia sank down onto her bed. This was a problem. She wasn't sure what to do next. A rumble in her stomach reminded her that she hadn't eaten in a good while. For the time being, she would have room service send something up. Perhaps after a good breakfast, she would be able to think clearer. Emilia picked up the phone and dialed.
* * *
Gerald got up early that Saturday morning and had a quick breakfast. He told his mother that he was going to the public courts to play basketball. To make his alibi look good, he had brought his basketball along with him. Gerald dribbled his basketball as he walked along.
Why are you bouncing that ball over and over again, asked Matahn. Can't you just carry it?
Where's the fun in that, thought Gerald.
You Earth people certainly believe in frivolous
behavior, said Matahn.
Don't your people play sports, asked Gerald.
We play games that stimulate the mind, replied
You'd probably love chess, then, thought
Gerald turn a corner into an alley. At first it
looked like a dead end. However, upon closer inspection there was a small
space between the two buildings surrounding the alley just big enough for
Gerald to squeeze through. He had to turn his head sideways to get it to
fit. The space was about five feet in length. On the other side, was a
small courtyard. Apparently, there was no way into it except through the
crack between the buildings.
I found this one day while trying to ditch some
bullies, said Gerald.
Gerald set his basketball down and reached for an old service
ladder that was bolted to the wall. He carefully climbed up the ladder until
he had reached the roof. Once there, he surveyed the roof. There wasn't
much to look at other than a few vents and ducts. Gerald went ahead and
began his transformation. Once completed, Maxima turned and surveyed the
urban landscape. That was when something odd caught her attention. An
orange and yellow something streaked between the buildings. Maxima's curiosity
got the better of her, and she decided to investigate. Maxima lept off of
the roof and began a sidelong route that bring her along side the mysterious
flying object. After clearing a tangle of taller office buildings, Maxima
began to realize that the thing was human in shape. Not only that, it was
"I don't believe it," said Maxima. "It's her.
The one who saved my life back at the old apartment."
Matahn sifted through Gerald's memories and reviewed
what had happened when Gerald was caught in a fire at the apartment building
where his family used to live. He almost didn't make it out alive until
a woman with glowing red eyes and flaming hair had brought him out to safety.
I have to say I'm impressed, thought Matahn.
Maybe this hero business isn't such a bad thing after all.
It was natural for Matahn to feel this way since
Gerald's existence was so closely coupled with her own. Suddenly, the woman
with the flaming hair noticed that she was being followed and turned toward
"Who are you?" she called. "What do you want?"
Maxima noticed that her hands were holding two
fireballs ready to be launched at the slightest provocation.
"It's me, Hellspawn," called Maxima. "Remember?
You save me from that burning apartment a couple weeks ago."
Hellspawn gave Maxima a suspicious look. "I've
never seen you before."
Gerald swore to himself. He had forgotten that
he wasn't in the form of a little boy at the moment.
"Wait," said Maxima, "I'll show you." She immediately
dropped down to a nearby rooftop.
Hallspawn had followed but at a wary distance.
Then her jaw dropped as she saw this strange woman in red and blue melt
down into a little boy. A very familiar little boy at that. Hellspawn also
landed on the roof where the boy now stood.
"You...you're Gerald, right?"
"Hey, you remember me," said Gerald smiling.
"How could I forget," said Hellspawn. "You were
pretty worked up that day. Not that I blame you. But, who was that woman
I saw earlier?"
"That was Maxima," said Gerald. To further illustrate,
Gerald changed back to Maxima before an astonished Hellspawn.
"Is that still you, Gerald?" asked Hellspawn a
Maxima nodded. "It's mostly me, but there is another
person in my head. The one whose body this really belongs to."
Gerald, what are you doing! Don't tell her
However, Gerald ignored Matahn's protests. He
knew in his gut that he could trust Hellspawn.
"How did this happen?" asked Hellspawn.
"It's kind of complicated," said Maxima. "I'd
rather not go into detail. Suffice it to say, I'm not quite the same boy
you met in that burning apartment."
"So, this is a recent development," said Hellspawn.
Maxima nodded. "I'd like to be a super hero like
you, but I'm just starting to figure things out right now."
Hellspawn couldn't help but laugh. "Join the club,
kiddo. I'm just starting out myself. I'm afraid there's no instruction
book for this kind of thing."
"You're a newbie, too?" said Maxima with some surprise.
"I never would have thought."
"Flatterer," chided Hellspawn.
"No really," said Maxima earnestly. "You're a
natural. I was gonna ask you to give me some pointers, but..."
Hellspawn chuckled. "I'd like to help, but I've
got a mentor of my own. I'm working with Kismet, now."
Now, it was Maxima's turn to drop her jaw. "Get
Hellspawn nodded. "I got lucky."
"Boy, I'll say," said Maxima smiling. "So, what
have you been doing out here?"
Hellspawn's face sobered. "I'm on a manhunt. There's
this lunatic who wants to wipe out all of us heroes in Monument City. But,
I'm not having much luck."
"Maybe I can help," said Maxima eagerly. "Four
eyes are better than two, after all."
"I don't know," said Hellspawn hesitantly.
"Please, let me help," said Maxima. "It's the
least I can do. You saved my life."
Hellspawn cocked her head to one side. "Ok, Gerald.
"Call me Maxima," said Maxima.
"I like it," said Hellspawn. "Definitely a hero's
The two women launched up into the air and resumed
the search for their quarry.
"What exactly am I looking for?" asked Maxima.
"You can't miss her," said Hellspawn. "She's wearing
a blue uniform and she's covered in weapons and gadgets."
"Weapons?" squeaked Maxima.
Hellspawn glanced sideways at Maxima. "If you
want to pull out, I'll understand."
Maxima screwed her face into a serious scowl. "No
way. I said I was going to help and by the stellar cluster I will."
Hellspawn's eyebrows went up. "Stellar cluster?"
"Oh, sometimes bits and pieces of Matahn's memory
pop up," said Maxima apologetically.
"Who's Matahn? Is that the other person in your
head you mentioned?"
"Yeah. She's really nice," assured Maxima. "She's
from another planet, see."
"Does she always go around fusing with little boys,"
"That wasn't her fault," explained Maxima. "You
see she died in an accident, originally. Her people broke her body down
into it rudimentary molecular parts and beamed them into space. Only, they
accidentally beamed them into me. I guess you could say we're both trying
to make the best of a bad situation."
"I see," said Hellspawn soberly. "Can I talk to
"Well, she can hear you right now," said Maxima,
"but I don't know if you can talk directly to her. I'll ask."
* * *
She wants to talk to you, said Gerald to
Well, I don't want to talk to her, grumbled
Matahn. And why did you tell her about me? No one is supposed to know
I exist, otherwise people are going to think you're crazy.
I trust her, said Gerald.
You don't even know who she really is, said
She saved me from a horrible death, said
Gerald. That's good enough for me.
Oh, alright. Relax your mind.
* * *
"About what did you wish to speak to me?" asked
The voice sounded the same, but there was something
about it that told Hellspawn that this was a completely different person.
"Well, I wanted to say that I'm really sorry about
what happened," said Hellspawn usure of how one consoles a seemingly living
person over how they died.
"I died doing my duty," said Maxima.
"Oh," said Hellspawn, "you're military?"
"Explorer Corps, not military," said Maxima.
"You mean you explored the galaxy," said Hellspawn.
"It must have been wonderful," said Hellspawn.
"What would you know about it," snapped Maxima.
"Your kind haven't even been to a neighboring planet yet."
"Ever since mankind first looked up at the stars
in the sky, he's dreamed of going there," said Hellspawn. "And you have
to start somewhere."
Maxima said nothing for a while.
"He's a good kid, isn't he?" said Hellspawn.
"I can't imagine what it's like for you, but I
do know that you couldn't have found a better person to be a part of."
"And how would you know?" asked Maxima. "You've
only met him once in a dire situation."
"I have ears," said Hellspawn. "I heard how he
refered to you. He respects you. I'd say he even admires you."
Maxima didn't respond.
"Well, well," said Hellspawn. "Looks like you're
good luck to boot. See what I spy over there."
Maxima looked to where Hellspawn was pointing.
There on top of a low building was X-Ra. Apparently, she was doing repairs
on some of her equipment.
"She hasn't spotted us, yet," said Maxima.
"Then let's use that to our advantage," said Hellspawn.
"We can come in from behind."
"Not good enough," said Maxima. "She could still
spot us. We'll have to come in low, too."
Hellspawn smiled. "Good plan."
The two women dived down to street level startling
several pedestrians. They turned a corner and approached from the south.
Just as they reached the old, dilapidated manufactory where X-Ra was located,
Maxima pulled up short.
"What are you doing?" asked Hellspawn.
"She won't be expecting the two of us," said Maxima.
"Frankly, since this is my first public appearance, she probably doesn't
know I exist. You go ahead. I'll come in from the north."
Hellspawn looked suspicious at first. Then, she
shrugged her shoulders and continued the rest of the way to the manufactory.
* * *
They can't be serious, thought X-Ra to herself. They actually think I didn't notice them. With outfits like those, they'd stand out in a fireworks display.
Charlotte Richter continued working on her new trap. It was in reality long since completed, but she tweaked a few points here and there as a means of fine tuning. It wouldn't be long before the device would be field tested. Just then, Hellspawn appeared before her. X-Ra took a step back from her trapping device.
"Well, looks like we meet again," said Hellspawn.
"Indeed, Miss Emilia Hart," said X-Ra with a smirk.
"So you know who I am," replied Hellspawn. "Big whoop. That still not going to stop me from taking you down."
"We'll have to see about that, first," said X-Ra.
Hellspawn launched an immediate attack. X-Ra pulled a remote control device from her pocket and activated her trap. The device shot a line directly at Hellspawn. As she attempted to dodge, the line exploded outwards forming a net that quickly ensnared Hellspawn. She swore as she tried to free herself from the net. X-Ra pressed another control and the net became alive with electricity. Hellspawn cried out in pain as she dropped to the roof with a hard thud.
"Now, where's you little friend, hmm?" asked X-Ra.
"Right behind you," said a voice.
Quickly, X-Ra activated the trap once more. A line shot out toward Maxima. She didn't even attempt to dodge it. The net esnared her in the same way it captured Hellspawn. The device then sent it's jolt of electricity along the line to shock Maxima. Maxima, however, was not affected by the electricity.
"So, you're a tough one," said X-Ra. "You're also new in these parts. I don't recall gathering any intelligence on you."
Maxima smirked at X-Ra. "The name is Maxima. Remember it. It won't be the last time you hear it."
Maxima grabbed the mesh that surrounded her and tore it open as if it were tissue paper. X-Ra quickly reached for an automatic rifle and fired several hundred rounds at Maxima. The bullets merely buffeted her tough skin. With an outstretched hand, Maxima stopped the forward progess of the remaining bullets in mid air. X-Ra ceased her attack and stared at the floating bullets before her. Quickly she reached for a flame thrower that she had prepared for emergencies like this and launch a stream of burning fuel at Maxima. She seemed to take the heat in stride and began to fly towards X-Ra. Beginning to panic, X-Ra pulled a dagger from her belt and grabbed the barely conscious Hellspawn.
"Advance any further, and I'll finish off your super model friend here," said X-Ra.
"That's quite a knife you've got there," said Maxima. "Do you always carry hardware like that on your person?"
X-Ra sneered. "A girl's gotta protect herself."
Maxima nodded. "I thought so." She reached out a hand toward X-Ra generating an enormous electromagnetic force. X-Ra came flying toward Maxima at great speed where she connected with an electrically charged fist.
"Tazer punch!" screamed Maxima as she knocked the terrorist into unconsciousness.
X-Ra hit the roof like a sack of cement. Maxima quickly landed on the roof and rushed over to Hellspawn's side.
"You okay?' she asked.
Hellspawn could tell by the inflections in the voice that Gerald
was back in command of Maxima's body. "I'm alright," she said to Maxima.
"Just a little dazed."
Maxima ripped apart the net that held Hellspawn trapped. "I'm
sorry about the way Matahn spoke to you. I didn't realize just how hard
it is for her to cope with all of this. I haven't been paying close enough
attention to her thoughts."
Hellspawn nodded. "It's okay, Gerald," said Hellspawn. "She's
doing her best to adjust. It can't be easy for her. Just help her as best
Maxima nodded soberly.
"That was a pretty impressive performance, though," added Hellspawn.
"Where'd you learn how to use your powers so quickly?"
Maxima smiled, "Matahn is an engineer. She's good at physics
and stuff. She told me what to do. The rest was based on something I read
in a comic book."
"Well, let's get this nutcase wrapped up before she comes to
and pulls of another disappearing act," said Hellspawn standing up and brushing
herself off. "We can use some of this extra wire she had lying around."
The two women managed to truss X-Ra with a large aount of steel
cable. It wasn't long before the police arrive, especially with the automatic
gunfire and the flames that X-Ra used to try and subdue Maxima. Hellspawn
and Maxima beat a hasty retreat before the police could reach the roof.
"I have to say I'm pleased with how things turned out," said
Hellspawn as the two women flew through the city. "I'd love to work with
you again, if it's okay with you and Matahn."
"I'd work with you anytime," said Maxima. "Don't worry too
much about Matahn. She's willing to help out, too. It's the start of a
new life for both of us. We're learning to depend on each other."
Hellspawn smiled. "Let's celebrate. We could have pizza my
Maxima returned the smile. "I'm there."
* * *
Trisha listened to Emilia's tale about subduing the terrorist
X-Ra with the assistance of another new costumed hero. She was very pleased
that the threat against her friends was over for now.
"Well, it looks like I may get a few nights off with all of
these new faces showing up," signed Trisha.
"Don't get too excited," returned Emilia. "Maxima and I are
still learning. We need all the help we can get."
"It sounds like you've made a new friend," signed Trisha.
Emilia nodded happily. She hadn't told Trisha about Maxima
really being an alien from another planet, or that she was fused with a little
boy. She promised Gerald that she wouldn't tell a soul, and it was nice
to have a few serets of her own for a change.
"I'd say you've earned your place in the Black Pack for sure,"
"Thanks," said Emilia. "I'm not so sure about that myself,
but I appreciate the vote of confidence."
Emilia stood up and looked out the window of Trisha Fate's apartment.
Vaguely, she wondered what life was going to throw into her path next. It'll
certainly be exciting to find out, though, she thought to herself.
T H E E N D
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