Master of the Universes
Ellen Kuhfeld

Splash page: A space battle high above Earth, ships and photon torpedoes and explosions every which way.

Inset, lower right of splash page: Mira's profile, watching the battle in a viewscreen.

Second page: we draw back to see it is a video game in an alcove off the bar-room of the super-heroes' club. Mira is sitting cross-legged in the air before the game, staring intently at it. Floating near her right hand is a glass of straw-colored liquid with bubbles and ice cubes. She is touching neither.

Mira is pondering her relationship with Rocketking, and his relationship with the law, since he kidnapped an entire courtroom. As she ponders, the score on the game mounts higher.

Her musings are interrupted by a ruckus from the labyrinth between the front door and the bar. Suddenly Miss Power comes rocketing up out of the entrance hole, does a barely-controlled cartwheel across the room, and ends up sitting on her ass against the far wall. "Wow, that first step's a dilly! You should do something about those spikes -- they tore my cape."

Mira loses control of the game; the ending score (57,286) flashes on the screen. Mira is listed as nine of the top ten winners, though 7th place is held by Captain Zoom.

Mira turns to Sam-the-bartender and says "Mix it again, Sam: she made it through the front door, she deserves a drink." The drink comes floating through the air and stops before Miss Power. Mira has her right hand out as if holding a glass; effects make it plain she's the prime mover.

Miss Power sips, then frowns. "This is ginger ale." "That's what I'm having -- I don't drink on duty. When mindworkers see pink elephants, everybody sees pink elephants."

Miss Power tries to persuade Sam to give her something a bit stronger. But he is a mind-reader, and knows perfectly well she is only 17.

Mira and Miss Power have a chat: how excited MP is to be in the Super-Heroes' Club, the perfidy of villains and the difficulty of telling who's on the list, the unreliability of men. Mira eventually says "I've been worrying too much lately. Let's go trolling."


"We do it when somebody new comes on board. See, I'll fly overhead while you jog through Loring Park, and we'll whittle down the muggers."

"I'm bait?"

"They aren't going to jump a known super!"

Miss Power pouts that her cape is torn.

"Capes put off muggers anyway."

"You wear a cape!"

"You came in like a martial artist. Martials get tangled in capes. I work at a distance."

Mira turns to the bartender. "Sam, didn't Innocenzia leave some fabric samples?"

The bartender hands over a box, and Mira digs through it. She ties a white scarf around M.P.'s forehead and hair, trailing down to one side. "This is in fashion, and it'll keep hair out of your eyes."

"Ready?" Mira levitates Miss Power. They fly out the skylight. (Another super is flying in; Mira waves as they pass.) Miss P says "Oh, wow!"

Of course, she goes trotting around the path in her Spandex and a mugger jumps her. She throws him just like in dojo. What to her surprise but he spins through the air like a boomerang. Miss Power has a momentary blank look, then realizes "Oh, Mira is playing."

When he spins back to her, she snags a wrist and slams him to the ground, with a glad cry of "Slam-dance!" She bows like a circus performer. "You've just seen my Amazing Boomerang Mugger trick. Care for another?"

In the distance, a policeman is taking the mugger away. From overhead, a bit in the direction of the lake, comes Mira's voice. "Nice catch!" Miss Power grins up and makes the gesture of circled fingers.

Mira falls splash! into the lake, trailing curses. She stands up, very wet, looking into the sky. "It's the PELICAN, heading for the art center! Damn! I can't function within a hundred yards of the guy! Feel like the big leagues, kid?" Miss Power nods.

"If it looks too hairy, I'll pull you out." Mira does a Fastball Special towards the sculpture garden. (Effect of throwing, but obviously done telekinetically.)

The Pelican has landed in the garden. He looks like a potbellied Vulture (except a pelican's neck folds backwards instead of forwards), and wears a pelican mask. He's looking over the "Hare on Bell" sculpture, with "Spoonbridge" in background. "It's time for the Pelican to go fishing! Squark, squark!"

Some arcane instinct warns him Miss Power is flying towards him. He spins towards her as she arrives, and opens his beak in surprise. She is swallowed without a trace.

"Shiver me timbers! I've been boarded!"

An unconscious thug comes rocketing out of the beak, hitting the upper mandible so violently that the Pelican is knocked off balance. Then another. (In the distance we see Mira telekinetically gathering up a huge ball of water from the lake.)

Then Miss Power comes flying out, and does a reprise of her entrance into the Super-Heroes' Club. She ends up with her back against the spoon-bridge, and she has a black eye.

The Pelican advances menacingly on her, with the barrel of an Uzi protruding from his beak. "You'll walk the plank for this, me pretty!"

Miss Power dives under the bridge, pursued by machine-gun fire. "Hey tubby! Incoming!"

A huge ball of water descends on the Pelican, knocking him flat. Miss Power is clinging to the bridge for dear life.

We see the Pelican flying into the distance at great speed. "Avast! Haul anchor, mates! The sea's a-rising!"

Mira comes in for a landing, just as Miss Power is picking herself up. The two thugs are out for the count. Everybody, and the landscape, soaked.

"My God, he had a whole room in there! And six thugs playing pool, an acetylene torch, and a pile of gold bars! One of the thugs knew ju-jitsu!"

"Yeah, Pelican makes pocket universes. It really mucks up the world-lines near him. You okay?"

In the ladies' locker room at the Super-Heroes' Club, removing dripping clothes and handing them to an attendant: "Sorry about the soaking, but throwing you a little luck and a lot of water was all I could do that close to Pelican."

In towels, head and body; applying a cold compress to the black eye. (N.B. Miss Power really only has a B-cup; she's less endowed in a towel than she was in her Spandex.) "A mugger and two thugs -- not bad for an evening's work!"

The two are back in costume. Miss Power is leaving through the front door (we see the little sliding panel from the inside). Both say, "Be seeing you!"

Jimmy Crockett is waiting outside (he coached her on the details of the labyrinth after his abortive trip). "Jimmy, you have the most interesting ideas for dates!" (burble, burble). Jimmy is less than enthusiastic; he doesn't like that black eye. They walk into the night, arguing intimately.