His New Super Girlfriend

 

By Brantley Thompson Elkins

 

with Velvet Belle Tree

 

Matt woke up Saturday morning and was surprised to see Hannah getting dressed.

“Hannah! What’s the matter? Don’t you want to make love this morning?”

“Sorry Matt. Mohl’s is having a sale today and I gotta go before everything’s gone.”

“Not even time for a quickie?” he pleaded.

“You don’t understand. At the rate I ruin clothes when I’m working I have to take advantage of a really good sale. I promise to take extra good care of you tonight.”

Hannah finished dressing and selected a short mousey brown wig. She inserted dull brown contact lenses to complete her disguise. Then she gave Matt a quick kiss and headed for the store. When she got there, it was already crowded.

She headed straight for lingerie. She found cotton bikinis at fifty percent off and grabbed a dozen in various colors. Bras were another problem. They would protect her modesty for a little while if her shirt was ripped. Even at these discount prices they weren’t cheap. Luckily she didn’t need the push-up type (Maximum then extreme? Doesn’t maximum mean the most of something?) or any padding.  There were only eight that she liked in her size and she quickly took them.

Now for pants. She spotted a good sale on workout pants and matching jackets. She didn’t need the jackets to keep warm but an extra layer of material wouldn’t hurt. She could only find ten pants in her size and eight jackets and she grabbed them all. Shirts, shirts… she would need some also. She saw a rack with turtles and mock-turtles. Only $8.99 each … real deep discount. She took a dozen of these.

She passed by the men’s department and saw a shirt that she thought would look great on Matt. It was half-price so she took that too. A small reward for being so understanding this morning. The poor dear had looked so pathetic pleading for sex. As if they hadn’t gone at like crazy last night and wouldn’t do so again tonight!

Then it was time to get on line. She couldn’t believe how long the line was. It was so frustrating. Here she was, able to move faster than the proverbial speeding bullet and she had to stand patiently on line. People were striking up conversations with strangers. A nosey lady in back of her said: “You sure are buying a lot!”

Hannah had to think fast. “Half of it’s for my twin sister. We often buy things for each other.”

“An identical twin?”

“You got it. If it looks good on me, it’ll look good on her.” Hannah turned away to discourage further questions. She wasn’t really in the mood to make up a whole story.

Finally she got to the checkout counter. The clerk paid no attention to how much she was buying. But she did have to go through the credit card routine.

“Do you have a Mohl’s card?” she asked Hannah.

“No”

“Would you like one?”

“No.”

“You get an extra fifteen percent off today if you get one.”

“No, thank you,” answered Hannah, trying hard to keep calm.

“Are you sure? You get special discounts all year long.”

Hannah took a deep breath. “Look, I do not want a credit card. Please, please, just check me out.”

***

For Matt Saunders, it had been a wild fantasy come true. Especially after that wild nightmare with Jenny.

Hannah could have had any man she wanted, since the change. But she wanted him.

Why ask why?

But he'd asked anyway.

"Because I love you, you big dope. I loved you before all this happened."

As he had loved her, only he was too dopey to come out with it. Carla hadn't helped, of course, but couldn't he have seen the look in her eyes?

He saw it now, for sure.

She rode him again that night, a look of rapture on her face as she held him within her.

She'd learned a lot since the beginning; she'd learned how to squeeze him just hard enough to drive him over the edge again and again without leaving him with a sore dick afterwards.

Matt had worked out a way to bolt the bed to the floor of the basement bedroom in their new home in the burbs; it helped to be an architect in small things like that. But it wasn't really necessary any more; Hannah had learned control.

Of course, the mattresses couldn’t stand up to her very well, but he figured they'd be making good money now that he had his own practice.

The only drawback, he thought, was that….

Just at that moment, Hannah's pager had buzzed. He knew what that meant: another job for G-2. That's what they were calling her now.

The drawback….

"Gotta fly," she said. "But not before…."

Hannah gave him a last hump and squeeze, and he felt himself shooting into her, saw her face light up as he knew his was lighting up, still amazed that he could bring pleasure to this heavenly creature who now hovered above him like an angel.

An angel who could dress for her job in seconds, as she did now.

Only for Hannah Lewis, that was the other drawback.

***

It had been a building collapse that night. Shoddy construction, it turned out later, and the lawyers had a field day. They'd have had an even greater field day of it had been during normal working hours, with hundreds of people in the office block.

As it was, there were a couple of dozen workaholics for a stock and bond brokerage trapped in the rubble. Half of them were already dead, but nobody knew that yet. What the emergency workers knew was that it would be a bitch getting them out. What was left of the building wasn't all too stable, they reckoned. That was why they called for G-2, G-Girl being halfway across the country responding to a forest fire.

It was happenstance, but fortunate happenstance. Hannah might not have been an architect herself, but having worked for an architectural firm and later for Matt, she knew enough about structural engineering to size up the situation with her X-ray vision. Even a superheroine who can lift hundreds of tons has to know just where to lift, or she might just make things worse.

To the rescue workers, the twisted girders and broken slabs of concrete were all a jumble, but Hannah could see a pattern to the jumble. She could see where the victims lay, and work out the best path to reach them without causing further damage.

She knew that time was of the essence, so she began digging in, pushing aside chunks of concrete, slicing through metal and cables with her heat vision to clear a stable path to the brokerage office. The tricky part was the last: a huge slab of concrete, once the next floor above the office.

Hannah couldn't just cut through the slab with her heat vision. Superheated chunks of concrete could fall on the people beneath and kill them outright, or start a fire that would kill them just as surely -- her super breath would be too powerful to smother the flames without risking further injury to the victims. But she knew what to do instead.

Flying back through the path she had cleared, she briefed the Battalion Chief Hank Ehlers, who was in command of the fire and rescue workers. She knew they were the ones needed now. She couldn't do their work, any more than they could have done hers.

"You can send them in now," she told Ehlers. "I'll hold up my end."

Her end was the slab, and she held it up. Held it up for an hour, as the paramedics ministered to those beneath. It was grim work, and she didn't envy it -- stabilizing those who still had a chance to make it, making the call on those who didn't, putting the living on stretchers to be taken to waiting ambulances and then the dead to be taken to the morgue.

The paramedics couldn't help glancing at Hannah as they passed back and forth. She stood there in the glare of emergency lights, the muscles of her arms and legs bulging as she held the slab in place with total concentration, seemingly oblivious to anything else. The sight was so awesome that they could almost forget how incredibly beautiful she was. She had the face of an angel and the body of a goddess; no matter that she was covered with dust and grime.

Some reporter managed to get close enough to take her picture. It appeared on the front page the next day.

"Girl oughta get herself a costume," the city editor told the reporter. "Looks like she's shopping the bargain basements."

He wasn't crass enough to put anything like that in the caption. But he wasn’t smart enough to know that G-2's outfit had been pretty classy before all the tears and abrasions and smears that came with a night's work for a superwoman.

Matt didn't have much fashion sense, and if he'd known what the city editor had said he'd have thought the guy had a screw loose. He'd been asleep by the time Hannah made it home, and she didn't wake him -- she knew he had work to do the next day.

But the following evening, she more than made it up to him. Matt had seen the picture in the paper by then, and it had made him incredibly horny -- even hornier than usual.

He thought about that picture as they made love, amazed once again at how soft and supple her invulnerable flesh was as he kissed and nibbled her breasts, ran his hands over her arms and legs and ass, buried his face in her pussy. She was strong enough to hold all those tons of concrete above her head, and yet she was so tender and responsive.

Hannah invited him to take top position this time, and the sight of her breasts pointing proudly upwards in defiance of gravity inflamed him even more. He plunged his cock into her and began pounding her into the bed -- it was good for the bed as well as his ego, but she matched him stroke for stroke and they screamed each other's names as they came together.

Nobody else but Jenny and Barry and Vaughn knew that Hannah Lewis was G-2 -- Matt had had words with Vaughn about not breathing a word, and so far he'd kept his mouth shut. But there must be millions of men who longed to be where he was tonight, making love with the idol of their erotic fantasies. Let them eat their hearts out!

Clothes don't make the woman, he'd have said if he'd heard anyone complain about her relatively plebian attire. Anyway, people generally didn't see her clothes until after they'd taken a lot of abuse. If G-2 didn't get to the scene well ahead of the news crews, she wouldn't be doing her job. She might as well not show up at all.

***

People had been wondering about the original G-Girl, too, but it didn't have to do with her fashion statement -- not at first. The thing was, Barry Lambert a.k.a. Professor Bedlam was a super-villain and here he was suddenly her main squeeze. It was sort of like a district attorney getting the hots for one of the Gottis.

The district attorney in this case wasn't a woman, and he'd been trying for years to get a RICO indictment against Lambert -- who, it must be said, was a lot smarter than your garden variety Mafia capo, at least when it came to covering his criminal tracks. Now what was he supposed to do, go after G-Girl, too? And how was he supposed to serve her, if he didn't even know her real name or address?

It was like the Martha Stewart scandal, cubed. And while the public stood by G-Girl and the district attorney dithered, consequences of another kind did follow: the world's first superheroine lost her contract with international fashion mogul Guido Berlini, who had been supplying her designer outfits.

"I ought to sue the bastard," Jenny told Hannah over the phone.

They didn't see each other that much off the job these days, mainly because Jenny couldn't appear at restaurants or shows or whatever with her boyfriend -- the paparazzi had been bad enough before that big scene they made at the fashion show.

Hannah knew that G-Girl couldn't sue, without revealing the secret identity she had somehow managed to keep secret during all that madness with Matt. It was Matt who'd brought her and Barry together. Maybe that had been a bad idea, but she couldn't think of a better one. Having a catfight turn into a long-running feud wouldn't have done anybody any good.

"Well, you know I can't sue him," Jenny continued. "But I can make him sorry. He won't get all that free promo now! Anyway, Barry has some great ideas about what to do about my outfits. You haven't seen anything yet."

Hannah didn't find out what she meant until a couple of months later, when they were called out together on a routine mission – an oil tanker had run aground, and the powers-that-be figured it might take both of them to ease it off the rocks before it began to break up and pollute the coast.

She'd done a double-take when Jenny made her appearance. No designer outfit this time, but coveralls festooned with sundry corporate logos like the kind NASCAR drivers had on their uniforms and cars. Only she didn't recognize any of the names.

Global Cooling Technologies? Quantum Electronics? Xtreme Dollar Stores? Twenty-First Century Motors? Tono Bungay?

Jenny caught her look.

"They're all startups," she explained. "Barry lined them up. No other way could they get the exposure I'm going to give them!"

Because there was time enough for publicity shots before they got to work, Jenny proceeded to give her clients maximum exposure, not forgetting to thrust out her awesome chest and even do a few bumps and grinds. Hannah, although equally or better-endowed, was an also ran in her everyday street clothes. Moreover, she wasn’t comfortable with the idea of teasing the hapless and the hopeless.

"Sorry I can't cut you in on this," Jenny told her. "It's an exclusive deal."

"Right."

 They floated the tanker all right. They both got dirty doing it, from small leaks they were able to seal with their fingers. Only, Jenny came out looking like a sexy grease monkey, which appealed to NASCAR dads who wished their wives looked like her. Hannah came out just looking greasy.

***

 It got worse for her a few weeks later, when Matt's most lucrative client, Mall to Mall LLC, ran into trouble with the Planning Board in Wood Park, New Jersey. He'd had a new design concept for a shopping mall there – a bold and innovative concept that would really put the town on the map. But the Planning Board balked: it didn't want Wood Park to be put on the map; it wanted something more conventional.

Mall to Mall acted like it was all Matt's fault: he'd better come up with a new design, and fast, they told him -- and they weren't going to pay him another cent until he did. Several other clients were late with their fees. But there were mortgage payments to be made, taxes to be paid -- property taxes in Darlington had just taken a big jump. Things had suddenly gotten tight, when they'd expected to be sitting pretty.

So it was that Hannah had to keep a watchful eye out for sales on any apparel she could use as working outfits, knowing that by the time she got through with them they wouldn't even be any use to the Salvation Army.

"You could work naked," Matt suggested one night.

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that."

"But you do end up that way, sometimes, if you've been in a fire or explosion."

"Only by that time, the gig's over. I can just zip right out of there before anybody sees me. And all the cams catch is a blur, or at best some fuzzy image like those telephoto shots of celebrities in the tabloids.”

***

It was a few weeks later that her com buzzed while she was shopping. It wasn’t as much of an interruption as she’d expected.

A co-worker had told her years ago about the boutiques on Bergenline Avenue in Union City. “Hey, if you want to dress spiffy on a budget, that’s definitely the place to go,” Susan had said.

Susan always looked spiffy, Hannah remembered, so she decided to give it a try. But the good old days were apparently over; there was nothing there better or cheaper than what she could pick up at Mohl’s or Tepper’s. She was still avoiding Monstro Mart, the big warehouse discount chain, but if finances didn't improve soon….

The emergency turned out to be a hostage situation at the Archer department store in Overpeck. They’d already called it in to G-Girl, and she was evidently on the scene, but there’d been some sort of problem and the voice on the other end had sounded panicky.

Hannah had been avoiding Jenny since shortly after the surprise launch of the G-Girl website. The home page showed G-Girl pulling down the top zipper of her coveralls and asking, “Want to see more? Only $18.95 a month.”

Jenny had actually called her the day before to tell her about it. “Barry’s a genius,” she’d rhapsodized.

So it was another of his ideas. Hannah was dubious, but Jenny insisted that she’d love it, and that Matt would love it even more. She’d given them a free account and a password.

They’d expected some nudity, based on the home page teaser, but what they found was really kinky – fetish stuff like slow motion videos of someone (presumably Barry) shooting at her chest, or of Jenny herself using an acetylene torch as a sex toy.

“It’s what the fans want,” Jenny explained later. “Those bank cameras and TV cams aren’t worth a damn – you remember that shootout at Public National? You could hardly see a thing on the tape.”

Hannah didn’t know what to say. Even Matt was embarrassed, by both Jenny’s cynical attitude and the fact that he was aroused by some of the footage – and, worse, would rather have seen Hannah in it.

Because they didn’t know what to say, they hadn’t said anything, except to beg off getting together again for a while because of business pressures – which was the truth, but not the whole truth.

Well, none of that mattered now. If the situation at Archer was bad enough that it needed both of them….

Her comm buzzed again.

"Don't fly into Overpeck," a new voice said. "There'll be a car waiting for you at Fifth and Main in Wood Park. A Dodge Neon. Drive it to Hair Heaven in the shopping center three blocks west on Main."

What could that mean?

***

What it meant was, the hostage takers had G-Girl stymied. Hannah received her briefing at Hair Heaven. If she'd known she'd need a wig, she could have brought her own. But she didn't just need a wig; she needed the whole story.

She got it from a federal agent who had managed to slip away from the scene without attracting attention. He wouldn't give his name, or even the name of his agency..

The hostage takers were from some wacko leftist group called the New Weathermen that was convinced Archer was the linchpin of a global hegemonic conspiracy. They didn't want money, they didn't even want a getaway car; they just wanted a confession -- on global television -- from the chain's CEO, whose name happened to be Jim Dollar.

The hitch was, they wanted a detailed confession, and Jim Dollar didn't even know what he was supposed to be confessing to. Police hostage negotiators had tried to elicit a few hints, but all they got from the group's spokesman was, "He knows his crimes."

The terrorists somehow knew that G-Girl was flying in, and that had only magnified their rage -- the spokesman was convinced that Professor Bedlam and Jim Dollar were in cahoots to oppress the Third World or promote global warming or whatever. It turned out they had a spotter outside with a cell phone, but when he himself was spotted he warned the cops to leave him alone or the hostages would die.

G-Girl had confirmed that they had a bomb of some kind, in a designer box that had supposedly contained an Isaac Graves designer coffee percolator that the ringleader had apparently been bringing in to return as a ruse. Using her heat vision might disable the device, or set it off -- she didn't know which. 

"We already put out a report that you're on your way to Ohio. Maybe you saw the news about the flooding there. We want the perps to believe you're needed to rescue some kids stranded on an island in the middle of a river with the water rising. We know they're watching TV, so we're going to feed some fake footage to CNN. It's amazing what you can do with CGI. The thing is, they can't know you're here."

"So I have to sneak in somehow," Hannah said.

"Here's a layout of the store," the G-man said, spreading out a floor plan. "They've got the hostages in the maternity section of all places –– pushed the racks out of the way, and the bomb's right in the middle of the space they cleared. Ringleader has some kind of remote -- can't tell whether it's a trigger or a deadman switch. Either way, you've probably got only seconds to do whatever you're going to do. But that's not the big problem."

"Getting in's still the big problem."

"Making them think you were already there. That's the big problem. They've got all the doors covered, and if you just crash through the wall that's a dead giveaway. How are you at tunneling?"

"Why?"

"If you can manage to dig your way into the storage area, you could hide in some shipping crate there and then pretend you're trying to sneak out when they catch you. They've got a guy at the loading dock doors but the place is so cluttered he can't have a clear view of the entire space."

"Anything else?"

"Plenty," he said. "Besides the wig, a change of clothing." The change proved to be a pair of cheap maternity pants and an oversize T-shirt.

"You'll also need this," the federal man added, producing a strap-on fake tummy. "You're going to be pregnant. You were going to try to shoplift some maternity clothes, but you thought Security had spotted you and went to hide out in back.

"Plus, you'll need some makeup," he continued, handing her a kit. "Tears won't make a mess of your face without it. Believe me, we've figured all the angles. At least, we hope we have."

"But…"

"We'll clear the rear of the building. In fact, we'll clear the whole area once you're in place, except for the cops and the spotter and a network pool crew those guys ordered up. They'll be in front and, unlike you and G-Girl, they can't see through walls. Oh, one other thing: I hope you're a good screamer."

***

When the loading dock guard caught her sneaking out of an empty MegaScope home theater carton, Hannah screamed good and loud. He was carrying an Uzi, so he wasn't store security, obviously -- but she played dumb..

"Don't shoot my baby!" she pleaded. "I just needed some maternity clothes, but I didn't take anything."

The terrorist, who could have passed for anybody -- beards and fatigues seemed to be out of fashion -- spoke into his walkie-talkie.

"Zulu here. Got another fish for you. She was hiding in a crate…. All right, all right, I'll check the others."

Then he waved his gun in the direction of the main store floor.

"Get out there with the rest, bitch. Should have shot you and been done with it, but that's the chief's call. Well, you know where the maternity department is."

Weeping convincingly, Hannah shambled her way into the store. Her T-shirt was stretched tight over what appeared to be her distended belly, and she made it look as if she could feel the weight of her unborn. Her hair was ratty, her cheeks streaked with tears and mascara.

Behind her, she heard a few bursts of gunfire. Apparently Zulu didn't want to go to the trouble of actually inspecting all the cartons. But the firing abruptly ceased: the chief must have gotten on his case.

She got her first look at the chief.

Not your image of a terrorist. The guy looked like a classic nerd, with unfashionable glasses and even more unfashionable clothes. Maybe it was an act, from the shabby sneakers to the "I Am Not a Geek" T-shirt, but then again maybe it was for real. He didn't so much as give her a glance, oblivious to all but whatever was coming through earphones connected to some communication device. Hannah gave a listen with her super-hearing: it was the spotter outside, keeping him up to date.

The other terrorists were taking turns watching the hostages and watching CNN, which had apparently just broken the "news" of the stranded kids in that Ohio flood. Several of them looked at her long enough to admire her melons, which were pretty hard to hide, but her belly evidently turned them off and they quickly looked away.

 One of the terrorists finally grabbed her and dumped her unceremoniously next to an overturned rack of maternity wear, a couple of yards from the nearest of the other hostages. They looked at her but said nothing. That was probably the drill. So she said nothing, either. That would have been the federal man's drill if he'd been here.

The hostages were mostly shoppers. No surprise there. Most of the shoppers were women of the preferred demographic. Again, no surprise -- Archer had a reputation for affordable chic. The employees included checkout clerks, many of them Hispanics and other minorities, in red uniforms. The manager and his assistant managers, mostly young white men, wore black.

Shoppers and employees were either weeping silently or had blank expressions, as if they had tuned reality out -- or were trying to. One of the assistant managers, kind of cute looking except for a buzz cut, was staring at one of the terrorist's guns. The terrorist was facing away from him and didn't notice. Buzz Cut must be fantasizing about being on the winning side. Stockholm Syndrome. He couldn't be stupid enough to be planning a move.

Hannah studied the positions of all the terrorists carefully, while pretending to look around aimlessly. If she was going to take them out, she'd have to take them out fast. It was a variation of the classic Traveling Salesman Problem, how to make the most calls in the shortest time. She hadn't had as much practice at super speed as Jenny, but she knew she had to get it right -- 100% right; anything less could cost innocent lives.

The terrorist chief suddenly seemed intent, even excited. Hannah listened in -- and was terrified. A man with a strange accent was on the line with him.

"…just entering Lower Bay. Slow and steady. Verazzano Bridge coming up. Time to get 'down and dirty,' as they say in your country. Fifteen minutes, and .Statue of Liberty is one hot lady…."

Oh God, it was all a diversion -- they must be bringing a dirty bomb into New York Harbor. And there was no way to get the word out. Unless she acted now.

She didn't know how powerful the bomb here was, but she could blow it down the nearest aisle. Thank God, Archer had broad aisles -- not like Monstro Mart. Chief was bound to see it, but maybe he'd be confused just long enough….

Go for it now, and go for the kill. No nonsense about grabbing their weapons and turning them into pretzels. That was for show. Killing was for real.

Hannah had her trajectory worked out, timed to the millisecond. First a puff of her super-breath sent the Isaac Graves package skittering down the aisle,  but before the Chief could react to that, she'd decapitated a dozen terrorists in order. Their heads seemed to leave their bodies in slow motion and their blood seemed to ooze rather than gush when she was in high speed.

She had to take a chance now. The Chief's trigger could still be a deadman's switch, after all. She flew down the aisle, grabbed the sliding bomb and headed for the men's room at the far end of the store. As she entered, she heard gunfire behind her, a slow roar to her enhanced perception but unmistakable just the same. She felt a moment of terror, the kind of terror that can be felt only by one who has made a deadly mistake.

She fell on the bomb, and at that very second it went off, shattering the walls  of the men's room, destroying the fixtures and blowing off the door. Still, most of the force of the blast had been blunted by the confined space and her invulnerable body.

She was all but naked, a few scraps of cloth clinging to her body, which was also covered with dust and debris from the explosion. But there was no time to worry about that; she headed back to the hostage scene, dreading what she would find. But what she found was the body of the Chief, riddled with bullets.

Of a sudden, there were more bursts of gunfire. Buzz Cut was laying waste to the terrorists at the front doors, who had been too stunned by the explosion to know what was going on. Then there was another burst of gunfire behind her –- Bravo had arrived from the loading dock to see what was happening, but one of the Hispanic girls grabbed a machine pistol and did him in.

It wasn't quite over, though. There was a SWAT team, rushing the store, shooting as they ran, and they didn't know the score. For all they knew, Buzz Cut was really one of the terrorists, and even though he’d dropped his weapon, they couldn’t be sure he didn’t have another hidden. Hannah leaped in front of him, taking the fire that would otherwise have cut him to pieces.

The SWAT men were gung ho, but they weren’t stupid. When they saw her there standing unharmed by a hail of lead, they knew what it meant. Their captain quickly called a cease fire.

“Sorry about that, G-2,” he said meekly.

“No time for small talk. There’s a dirty bomb headed for the Statue of Liberty.”

The captain heard her. So did Jenny, who came up to the front now.

“They told me to keep back, the idiots,” she complained. “But forget about that. We’ve got a job to do.”

Hannah briefed her on what she knew as they soared into the sky, racing the clock to save the most hallowed symbol of American freedom.

***

"It's six foot, seven foot, eight foot, bunch!"

Achmed Salafi would never be mistaken for Harry Belafonte. But then he wasn't interested in a singing career.  He wasn't  interested in any kind of career. He'd be dead in a few minutes, along with his skeleton  crew on the Star of Jamaica. The original full crew had been dumped to feed the sharks hundreds of miles back.

Achmed’s people wouldn’t look suspicious on the off chance the Coast Guard checked out the ship, because none of them looked Middle Eastern. He himself came from Chechnya, but he could pass for Russian, and the rest of his men hailed from England, Belgium, Italy and France – Muslim converts all, attracted by the millennial appeal that once turned bored men from similar backgrounds into Communists.

Banana boats had sometimes blown up in the old days, he'd read. Bananas ripen quickly,  and in the days before refrigerated ships their sugars would give off volatile gases  that, unless properly vented, could explode. A lot of banana boats were  lost that way. So far, nobody had noticed that the Star was seemingly lost, having missed the turn into Kill Van Kull for the Howland Hook marine terminal.

It was too bad that the American pigs still hadn't reopened the Statue of Liberty to tourists -- it would have been more pleasurable to die knowing that hundreds of infidels would die more slowly, more painfully, of radiation sickness.  But one must never make demands of Allah, one must only serve the Almighty. One must do what one can.

One must also make use of any means necessary. Like those useful idiots who had taken over the store in New Jersey. He hoped they'd blow it up. He wished all such stores would be blown up, that such purveyors of materialistic filth would be eradicated from the face of the Earth.

The Jihadist command had at first balked at making an alliance with such atheists as the New Weathermen, but Achmed had reminded them that Allah works in mysterious ways, shaping everything to His purpose. Just as the Great Satan had been drawn into Iraq to manifest the need for the greater Jihad, so would the New Weathermen manifest their own vileness as well as that of the Evil Empire they imagined they challenged.

They had already served their immediate purpose: distracting the security forces. No doubt they were using their radiation detectors in Overpeck, stupid enough to believe that such pathetic creatures as the New Weathermen could construct a nuclear device. One of the flying whores was also there, he'd been informed, and the other was hundreds of miles away. There would be no interference from them.

A ton of TNT, and all the radioactive waste the Command had been able to scrounge on the black market. The hideous green hag these infidels worshipped was dead ahead. Any moment now….

But what was this? The statue was beginning to sink out of sight. No, he realized in alarm, the boat was rising. How could this be?

Achmed suddenly knew the answer. The only possible answer. For a few moments, crucial moments, he was too paralyzed to act. As the banana boat picked up speed in its flight, he was thrown to the deck by the rush of air, barely managing to hold on to the trigger. How high were they now? There was no way to tell, but the air must be getting thinner. It was getting harder to breathe.

He triggered the bomb, praying that it might still do some good.

***

It wasn't exactly a great day for the environment. Chunks of contaminated wreckage fell into the Atlantic Ocean ten miles off Sandy Hook. It was near an area New York City had once used for dumping garbage. But when the story got out, even environmentalists agreed it could have been a lot worse.

It wasn't exactly a great day for G-Girl and G-2, either. Both were contaminated by radioactive waste. They had to spend a week apart from Barry and Matt, taking repeated acid baths until Homeland Security pronounced them back to normal radiation levels. But at least they weren't crude enough to ask the women to fly the radioactive acid tanks out to the nuclear waste dump in Nevada.

But things were looking up for them when they got out. CNN and other networks were still running specials on the superheroines. Their faces -- and sometimes more than their faces -- were on the covers of every magazine. "Super Ladies Save Lady Liberty," rhapsodized the cover story in Time. Because there weren't any actual pictures of how they'd done it, CGI artists were free to use their imaginations.

Still, the networks and the mainstream magazines observed the limits of good taste. G-Girl and G-2 had both been stark naked during the operation, Jenny's coveralls having come apart in the haste of the flight from Overpeck and Hannah having already lost the last shreds of her outfit. But it wasn't long before a host of Internet sites posted photo manips that were just as imaginative as CNN's but, in this instance, more accurate.

Everybody forgot about Barry, or at least they forgot his past. To his credit, he came up with an idea that would induce the public to keep forgetting it: G-Girl agreed to hire herself out to NASA for satellite repair, having taken care to make sure that neither the airlessness nor the radiation in space could harm her.

Guido Berlini kissed and made up: once again, G-Girl would have those designer outfits. It was just as well, because the startup companies she'd been promoting on her coveralls turned out to have about as much going for them as Acme Products, and soon faded into bankruptcy. But she kept the website: Barry was kinky enough to get off on the videos, and by imagining millions of other men getting off on them.

G-2 didn't have a Guido Berlini in her corner. But she did have Jim Dollar. The CEO of Archer had arranged a meeting through Homeland Security channels. He wanted to express his personal thanks, they'd said. But when Hannah flew to his office in suburban Chicago, she was surprised to see another party in his private conference room -- Buzz Cut.

"This is Nathan Huffhines," Jim told her.

His face broke out in a broad smile before he continued.

"Actually, he's my son, Nathan Dollar. But don't tell anybody, or I'll kill you. We've all got our little secrets, I reckon."

Jim Dollar had never believed in giving his son the silver spoon treatment. As far as the people in Overpeck were concerned, Nathan was just another store clerk who'd done well enough to get a promotion to assistant manager.

"I worked hard to build up this company, and my son will have to work just as hard to make his place in it. But he's got smarts, and not just about business. You tell him, Nathan."

Nathan suddenly blushed, all the way to his buzz cut -- which, Hannah later realized, he'd first acquired during a stint in the Army.

"You see, I was scared. Anybody would be. But I had to keep thinking -- my mind was racing. It always does, when I'm in a jam -- like in Iraq. So I was looking around, and I saw you come in. And there was something funny about you."

"I was trying to look like some low-class tramp who got knocked up. Nothing funny about that."

Nathan blushed even redder.

"But a woman as big as you -- well, she should have been saggy. But you weren't. I could tell from your nipples that… that they were sticking straight out. And a poor girl couldn't afford implants or anything like that. So I thought -- well, really I just hoped. But if it was true, I wanted to be ready, and so--"

Hannah began laughing hysterically, cutting short Nathan's account.

"Oh God," she gasped, when she got over her fit. "Betrayed by my tits."

But then the reality of her own memory came to the surface.

"I know your father brought me here to thank me," she said soberly. "But I want to thank you, too. I was worried about the Chief."

"Thank the Army," Nathan replied modestly. "They trained me how to shoot."

"I just want you to know how grateful I am to you for saving Nathan. Saving all of them," Jim cut in. "I'm going to give you a gift card -- unlimited. You can have the run of the store. Any of my stores."

But Hannah had another idea.

***

"Let's get married."

That was the first thing Matt had said to her after she got out of decontamination. He'd just landed a big contract, he was in the bucks again, but he'd missed Hannah so much he knew he'd love her for the rest of his life.

It would have to be just as Matt Saunders and Hannah Lewis, of course. Quite apart from the danger Matt might face should her secret identity be revealed, a wedding for G-2 would have turned into a zoo, with thousands of party crashers and paparazzi, dozens of helicopters overhead… she dreaded the thought.

So it was just friends and family. That included Jenny and Barry, but only because Jenny could don her black wig and mousy attire and fly in her lover (head shaved, and with a fake mustache and beard) by a roundabout route, the final miles of it through a forest in upstate New York, to the small lakeside resort they had rented for the ceremony.

Hannah's wedding dress, with its yards and yards of lace and long train, could have graced a princess, and it had indeed been commissioned by a merchant prince -- but even Jim Dollar didn't know whom she was marrying, or where.

"All I need to know is, he must be one lucky man," the CEO had told her.

"It's a knockoff," Hannah explained to her family. They took her word for it.

The dress wasn't all he'd had designed for her. But she was saving that for a wedding night surprise: Matt would be the first to see it.

A trellis was set up beside the lake and the town’s mayor was standing in front of it.  To the side was Matt, resplendent in his tuxedo with his best man, Vaughn, by his side.  The guests were in their seats when the harpist and flutist began the processional.  Hannah’s maid of honor, her sister Liza, walked down the aisle.  Then Hannah followed, accompanied by her proud father.

Hannah stopped at Matt’s side and they joined hands.  The mayor began the ceremony that they had painstakenly written together.  She held her breath while Vaughn fumbled for the rings in his pockets and handed the correct one to Matt.  It felt wonderful when Matt slipped it on her finger.  Then Vaughn gave her the ring for Matt.  She loved the look on his face when she put it on his finger.

They said their vows, and then she whispered so only he could hear: "And I promise to give you super-duper love."

They all went over to where tables had been set up for a buffet luncheon.  Hannah got really nervous when Vaughn got up to make the traditional toast.  What would he say about his history with Matt? When he talked about how she and Matt met, would he give her secret away?  But it turned out fine.  Matt must have read him the riot act.  He didn’t say anything embarassing and actually was quite amusing.

Later, however, after he’d had a few, Vaughn kept looking as if he were bursting to say something more.

"Don't you dare," Hannah advised him. "Unless you want to end up as an oil slick on dry land.”

Vaughn was sulky the rest of the afternoon, and didn't even say goodbye at the end. Matt hoped he could patch things up later. But what Vaughn needed was a woman -- any woman. Maybe he could help with that, give the guy some pointers, at least. Half the time he didn't have a clue.

But Matt himself was clueless about what Hannah had planned for their wedding night.

"It's not as if I'm going to see anything I haven't seen before," he remarked as they returned to the bridal suite after dinner.

"Don't be too sure of that," she teased him, as she began what she'd planned as an excruciatingly slow striptease from her wedding dress.

And then her comm buzzed, and she snapped back to duty, taking the call.

"Sniper in Albany," she told him. "Gotta fly."

"Not in your wedding dress!" he protested.

"That'd just slow me down!"

It wasn't exactly true, but it justified her going into super speed to shed her dress and don the items she’d hidden in her luggage because she couldn’t hide them under it.

“Don’t look,” she pleaded, and her puzzled new husband complied. But even if he’d peeked, he’d have seen only a blur as she did her quick change, darted onto the balcony, and sped out of sight.

He'd still get his surprise… whenever.

 

***

"Sorry for the delay," Hannah said when she came through the balcony door. "And for spoiling your surprise. But there'll be more where this came from. Jim Dollar promised me as many as I'll need."

She was wearing a gorgeous costume. Clingy white fabric that covered her torso like a second skin, a red cape and belt, blue gloves and boots. Just the thing for a well-dressed superheroine. Only there were half a dozen bullet holes in it.

"Guy was a real nut," she explained. "Must have O.D.'d on Jenny's videos. It was G-Girl he wanted to see, but I guess she and Barry had gone off the loop. So they called me in. Here this guy had climbed all the way to the capitol dome, and was shooting into the air. He didn't really want to hurt anybody, he just wanted to meet her and live out his fantasy."

"Well, I guess he got to do that. For a while."

"I kind of felt sorry for him, so I let him get off a few before I grabbed his gun and crushed it. Then I flew him down to the street and let the police take over. Maybe he can plead insanity."

"Your merchant prince couldn’t make you anything bulletproof?"

"Not that bulletproof -- he was using steel-jacketed rounds. Anyway, have you ever seen a bulletproof vest after it's done its job? It's a mess. So there wouldn't be any point. No bulletproof costume, just bulletproof me."

Matt stared at her. There was a glint in his eye. When she glanced at his crotch with her X-ray vision, she could tell he was getting turned on.

"You too?" she asked.

"I'd never…"

He was flushed with embarrassment.

"But you like to imagine it, don't you? Men!"

Matt looked crestfallen for a moment.

"You must think I'm crazy."

"How's this for crazy? When the guy was shooting at me, when his bullets were bouncing off my breast, I was thinking about you.  It felt so good, so tingly. But I knew it would feel so much better if it were your hands and your lips."

She stood there proudly before him, letting his eyes drink in the magnificence of her body.

Matt approached her, eyes filled with wonder. He reached out to her, fingered her invulnerable flesh through a couple of the bullet holes.

"No, no smudges," she said. "They weren't lead bullets. So they all shattered against me and the fragments ended up God knows where."

His eyes were glued to her left breast..

"See, where he hit there the holes are smaller because bullets don't fragment as much when they impact on my softer flesh. My breast just kind of dimples in a little, and then -- sproing! But my killer abs -- they're really death on ammo."

Matt was breathing heavily now, as he caressed  her perfect breast through the now less-than-perfect fabric.

Hannah stepped back a minute and began undressing.

"I've got another one hidden away, and Jim can Fed-Ex more to the dead drop when I need them," she said. "But I think I'll keep this one -- just for us."

Off came the gloves, and the boots, the belt and the cape. Then, ever so slowly, she peeled off the rest, causing Matt to gasp with delight and anticipation.

No sooner had her breasts come into view than he began to assail them with kisses and caresses -- rough kisses and caresses, the kind he'd learned she loved. Soft as silk they were, yet strong as steel -- he knew they could take all the loving he could give. Likewise the rest of her body.

Hannah moaned and screamed with pleasure as he bit her nipples, then worked his way down to do the same with her swollen clit.

"Invulnerable," she whispered in his ear. "Except to love. Impenetrable, except for your…"

Matt got the message, frantically pulling off his pants and undershorts. She let him lower her to the bed, then embraced her there, plunging his cock deep into her, ravishing her with wild abandon. She responded to every thrust, even lifting him off the bed before letting him fall back again.

They lost track of how many times they came.

The resort lodge was used to honeymooners, but never to honeymooners this loud or persistent. There were even people who claimed they could hear their cries in town a mile away.