A purple-hued, multi-limbed, diminutive being gazed at a petite young woman and scowled. His name was Dr. Gym’ll. She was his patient, Salu Digby, AKA Shrinking Violet of the Legion of Super-Heroes. However, neither the crusty physician nor the abrasive heroine were particularly patient as individuals. He saw her look of relief when he concluded her examination by saying, “You are disgustingly healthy, young woman!”
Salu smiled. “Coming from you, that means a lot. I really didn’t think this visit was necessary, but Element Lad wanted to make sure everyone checked out in good health before he concluded his term. I guess he felt that it would relieve him of any feeling that he had neglected any possible duty during his tenure as Legion leader.”
“Jan Arrah is very thorough,” said Dr. Gym’ll. “My bills were always dealt with expediently during his time in command. I certainly hope his successor is not Wildfire. Getting that fiery individual to complete the most basic procedural process was more difficult than sedating a Rimborian range-ox!”
Salu smiled again mischievously. “Could be worse, Doc. Maybe Timber Wolf will win the election… or Quislet! How’d you like to have your equipment become animated before blowing up?”
Dr. Gym’ll sighed in resignation. “Very droll. Your examination is complete. I will transmit the necessary report to Legion Headquarters.”
Salu nodded and watched the irascible doctor as he walked off, grumbling to himself. He was an excellent physician with an extensive knowledge of the metabolic and physiological needs of countless alien species. He concealed his concern for his patients and his dedication with a gruff façade.
Shrinking Violet knew all about façades, since the formerly demure girl had developed one of her own. Her Legion friends had known her as Shy Vi for years until a life- changing ordeal altered the way she viewed the world around her. She had been abducted and imprisoned by radicals from her home planet of Imsk. During her time trapped in a senso-deprivation tank, she had been replaced by a Durlan actress who, in turn, had been duped into deceiving the other Legionnaires. When her friends realized what had occurred, they rescued her, and the remorseful actress Yera had eventually made an uneasy peace with all. This was helped by the fact that Yera had married Colossal Boy, and the two were a blissfully happy couple.
Since then, Salu had made a vow to never allow herself to be victimized again, and she had followed through on that vow by dedicating herself to combat training until she had become one of the team’s finest fighters. She had also adopted a tough, no-nonsense attitude that brought her out of her shell and discomfited some of her teammates. She was happy with her new demeanor, and her friends had come to accept it. She had even reconciled with her boyfriend, Duplicate Boy of Lallor. His superhuman powers enabled them to carry on a satisfying long distance romance, since he could travel across space to be with her with relative ease.
Now, she smoothed down her short pageboy haircut and slipped on her customary green minidress and black boots. Before she could depart from the orbiting medical hospital called Medicus One, which hovered in perpetual geosynchronous orbit near Earth, she heard loud screams and a muffled explosion.
Violet whirled around to glance at one of the many monitors that allowed the staff to maintain a constant observation of the many levels of the huge satellite. She saw smoke and fire and a strange band of intruders crashing through a forced airlock. They wore uniforms of black and gold, and they carried standard handheld blasters. Still, they were more than a match for the Medicus One security staff, as the invading group fired ruthlessly at staff and patients alike, and their advantages of surprise and aggression enabled them to make their way deeper within the satellite even as one of their number stopped to close the damaged portal behind them. Organ-leggers! she realized. They probably want to steal the vital organs stored here and make a fortune in credits by selling them on the black market. Ayla and Brin captured a similar gang here a while back. Well, I guess they are in for a shock when they learn that a Legionnaire was already here! I’ll contact the others for reinforcements, and we’ll put a quick end to their little raid!
She touched her gold flight ring and frowned as she realized nothing was happening. By the dragons of Imsk, they’ve blocked all communications! Even the flight ring signal is not working. The others know I am here from our monitor board, but I’ve no way of letting them know what’s going on, and I can’t summon help! I’d say the same thing has prevented the security staff here from reaching the Science Police, too.
Shrinking Violet glanced at the monitor screen above and saw the robbers charging through the hospital with a casual disregard for life or property. “I can’t let them harm anyone if I can stop them. Looks like it’s entirely up to me to handle this gang,” she said softly, but with a steely determination in her tone. She ran out of the room and flew down the corridors via her flight ring. She called down to the staff below. “Get the patients to safety. I’ll try to hold off the robbers!”
A doctor cried out, “We can’t! They’ve sealed all exits and cut off all communications. We’re trapped here with them! We’re absolutely helpless!”
Shrinking Violet landed and blocked his path. “Pull yourself together! You have to put the safety of the patients first. Try to keep them calm, and I’ll handle the rest!”
He nodded abruptly and said, “Of course. I lost my head. I suppose I was scared.”
Violet nodded and flew off to face the closest in the group of robbers. Three of them had charged on ahead of their allies, and they were coming closer. She swooped low and bowled them over with the momentum from her sudden dive. Before they could get back up, she shrank down to doll size in their midst and then slammed into each of their chins with stunning force by growing to normal size in close proximity to them in rapid succession. She turned to the staff and said, “Tie them up or sedate them! Take their blasters and use them if any of the others get past me!”
Hurrying down the hallway, Vi tried to recall anything she might have seen in the past that would enable her to identify their odd uniforms. I can’t say I have ever seen their particular uniforms before, but then new creeps pop up all the time, she thought. It really angers me to think how they want to get rich off of making a commodity out of organs vital to the survival of innocent people!
Shrinking Violet was not unwilling to use a blaster against the robbers if necessary, but her Legion code didn’t allow the use of lethal force, and she was far more comfortable relying on her own resources than employing guns, even if only set to stun. She reduced her size again and gained a bit of speed as she made her way down to where the organ-leggers were creating panic.
My Espionage Squad skills will certainly come into play here. If I can keep them separated from one another in small groups and prevent them from alerting one another to my presence here, I’ll gain a big advantage. The security monitors just died as well. I guess that means I’m going to have to be especially careful.
Vi heard noises and quickly vanished by shrinking behind a table. She saw three thugs enter, and she observed them closely from her hiding place. She noticed with her keen detective’s eye that all of them spoke Interlac and appeared to be from Earth. She also noted the rather curious names they used when they addressed one another as they began to access the computers.
“Pompey, can you break through the security codes?” said one of the men. “The medical records stored here could be of use to us later on. Some wealthy types might pay well to keep their medical conditions secret!”
A rugged blond man laughed harshly. “Yeah! Imagine what the Intergalactic Broadcast Company would pay for details about Dream Girl’s latest cosmetic enhancement!”
Violet stifled a laugh at how furious her vain teammate Nura Nal would be if she heard the thugs making assumptions that her stunning beauty wasn’t natural. She listened for a moment and made sure none of the rest of the robbers were approaching.
“Don’t get so nervous, Sulla,” said a black-haired man. “Marius has this job planned to the last detail. While some of us get the frozen organs and others steal the valuable drugs stored here, a third team robs the patients of anything they might have of value, and we copy the databanks for later use!”
Those names are ancient, Shrinking Violet realized. I think they all had some significance in ancient Rome, but I could be wrong. Terran history isn’t my specialty except when it comes to some of the old compu-books of detection I love so much. Violet entered the computer itself via a quick reduction to microscopic size, and she adjusted some wires with a furious speed. This should prevent them from getting any data from the system. Now, while they are looking so intently at the computers, I’ll make my move.
Violet erupted from the computers and carried two sparking wires in each gloved hand. She touched the wires to two of the three robbers, and they collapsed from the sudden powerful shock. She spun around to knock the final thug flat with a hard right cross. I figured those costumes would protect them from a truly severe shock, just like my gloves shielded me. Still, the shock was enough to knock them out for a time. She bent over them to make certain, then hurried to do battle with the rest.
Simply transferring the organs will occupy them for a while, as will locating the drugs. I’d better try to protect the patients from the gang members whose mission involves robbing them! She made her way unseen down to the main level where the patients stayed. She moved quietly and swiftly, and she saw all that occurred.
Eight of the uniformed thugs were in that wing. While four of them held blasters on those patients who were ambulatory, the other four loaded the contents of the individual room lockers into a bag. Violet saw an unoccupied bed and slipped under the sheets moments before two of the robbers entered the room. “Don’t get up on our account!” said a bald man with a sneer. “We’ll just help ourselves to the contents of your locker.”
Violet looked pained and clutched the sheets around her costumed form as he drew closer. “This one is a real looker!” said the bald thug’s companion.
“Take a closer look!” snapped Vi as she suddenly kicked him in the face and tossed the sheets over his friend’s head. She smashed a locker over his head and hurled it into the other startled thief with precise aim. As he fell backward, she connected with a final punch. She shrank down and jumped inside the fallen locker, as it lay ajar on the floor. Two more goons entered the room and glanced at each other in surprise.
“What happened to Darius and Claudius?” gasped a very tall man as he drew his own blaster.
Before his companion could answer, Violet allowed the door of the locker to swing open and reveal her mocking expression and defiant form. “There’s a kid’s doll in there!” began the amazed crook before Vi grew again and used her sudden momentum to knock his raised blaster into his chin. As he dropped the weapon, she caught it and fired directly above his friend’s head. The metal railing above him shattered, and one end swung down to hit the robber directly on the head. He groaned and fell forward to land at Violet’s feet.
Shrinking Violet knew the blaster noise would attract more of the thugs, so she shrank down again and concealed herself beneath the fallen Darius’ long hair. Soon enough, two more of the robbers entered with their own weapons drawn.
As one of them bent over the defeated gang members, Violet slipped inside his blaster and artfully braced her legs against the trigger’s interior part. She strained and thrust out her legs, causing the weapon to fire suddenly into the air.
“What the–? My blaster misfired!” he said. “Better adjust the setting! I’d hate to blow my own leg off or something!” As he turned the weapon around and peered down at its settings, Violet disconnected a tiny wire and damaged the weapon. She exited rapidly and entered the other man’s weapon, and neither of them could detect her minute form. She made a similar adjustment to his gun, then grew to normal size between them.
“Hi, boys!” Violet said with a mocking tone. She shrank down again as they fired their altered weapons in haste. Both weapons misfired, and the impact left them both stunned. She dusted both gloved hands together and surveyed the fallen criminals. Two of the ones assigned to the patients were not accounted for as yet. She heard a shrill scream, and she flew out of the room. That sounds like one of the patients is resisting! I only pray I can get to her in time!
Violet came into the room and saw the other two robbers. One was gripping the hospital gown of an elderly woman, while the other watched from the side. “Give us that ring! We don’t have time to play!” he demanded.
“Grife! A Legionnaire!” sputtered the nearer man.