Showcase: Artemis: Cat and Mouse Game, Chapter 1: One Down, One to Go

by Libbylawrence

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On the campus of Raeburn University, Donna Troy Long strolled across the college’s well-landscaped commons and admired the classical architectural style of the surrounding buildings.

I really like this place. Those ornate columns remind me of Paradise Island’s buildings. Of course, as elaborate as Raeburn’s famed science department is, it lacks a purple healing ray like the one Paula has back on the island, she thought with a smile.

The attractive young woman could make such assessments with authority, as she had spent years on the fabled home of the Amazons as the adopted daughter of Queen Hippolyta herself. She was raised as sister to Princess Diana, whom the world had celebrated as the heroine Wonder Woman. Donna was a heroine herself in the role of Artemis of the New Titans. In her heroic career as Artemis over the past year and for years earlier as Wonder Girl, she had witnessed many marvels on more than one planet. Yet perhaps, it was her unique charm that she was happiest among family and friends as a photographer, wife, and stepmother.

It was in the latter two roles that Donna was now touring the campus. Her husband, Terry Long, was a newly hired professor of literature and mythology. Donna was enjoying her spouse’s new job setting, and she was eager to show the college to Terry’s young daughter, Jennifer.

I hope Marcia retracts her claws on this visit. She only has to drop Jen off, but if I know Terry’s ex, she’ll have a few catty comments for this allegedly much younger second wife. She makes me sound like I still play with Barbies and wear pinafores! sighed Donna.

As she waited by the main parking lot, Donna reflected on the last few months. She had celebrated Christmas with extra enthusiasm; her husband’s depression had vanished with the call that he had been given this job. He had been unemployed since Manhattan University let him go due to his failure to publish a required article, and his lack of tenure had made him more vulnerable than most of his fellow professors. Naturally, Donna had tried to cheer him up even while continuing as an active member of the New Titans. She had taken a leave from the group for the last few weeks and had enjoyed spending quality time with Terry. Now, with Terry settled in for the mid-semester’s start, Donna was ready to become involved with her old team once more.

A limousine pulled up, and a uniformed driver stepped out to open a door. He was a bit too slow, as a young girl swung open the door and raced to Donna with cries of pleasure.

“Donna, Donna! This place is so rad! It’s got woods and everything!” cried Jennifer as Donna bent over to catch the girl up in her arms.

“That’s right! It is lovely. How are you?” she said.

Jennifer continued to babble happily as her mother Marcia stepped out of the car with a look of irritation. “Jennifer, it’s Foster’s job to open the doors. Remember to let him do so from now on,” scolded Marcia. She wore a full-length mink coat and expensive boots. She glanced toward Donna and nodded briefly. “Donna. I’m so glad Terry has found work. I can recall how excited he was back when he received his degree. But I suppose you were still in grade school back then.”

Donna bit her tongue and said, “Marcia, I see by the coat and the car that your new man is treating you well.”

Jennifer piped up, “Yes, Preston is loaded!

Marcia frowned and said, “Jennifer! We don’t talk about things like one’s income!”

Donna knew Marcia had been seeing the wealthy Preston Wainwright once she and Terry divorced. Terry had been embarrassed that his ex-wife’s new love could provide Jennifer with so many things his salary could never afford.

“Well, Marcia, why don’t I show you two around? Terry’s in class now,” said Donna.

Marcia said, “Very well. I’ve heard Raeburn’s science department is highly respected for a small college. Still, if they’ve hired Terry, then they know quality in other departments as well.”

As they walked across the campus, shadowy figures watched their progress with interest.

“She’s the one! Prepare the others, and then we shall teach Mrs. Long a lesson!” hissed a commanding voice.

***

Later, Donna drove through the community of Raeburn and smiled as she recalled the pleasure seeing Jennifer had given Terry. “I know Jen wanted me to join them, but I think it’s only right that I give them some time alone together. I hope Terry and Jen enjoy the movie. I guess Marcia’s on her way back to the Hamptons, too.”

She pulled off the road as she spotted flashing lights at the Raeburn Labs complex. “Some kind of trouble is brewing at the labs. I know some of Terry’s fellow professors from Raeburn’s science department do freelance work there, too,” she said.

She changed to her red Artemis costume and bounded across the complex. She cleared the security fence and stood beneath the window in which flashing lights and cries for help had first caught her attention.

Artemis jumped high off the ground and crashed through the window to see five men in purple jumpsuits and hoods. They were struggling with two men near a flaming machine. She heard the frightened cries of animals as she passed a row of wire cages holding lab animals.

“Great Hera!” she cried. She whipped out her golden lasso and spun it around with enough intensity to smother the flames.

“Get her!” cried the leader of the men in the purple hoods.

They rushed toward the nubile heroine as she glanced over to make certain the two victims were merely frightened but not hurt.

Artemis said, “You fellows make a girl feel really welcome! Why don’t I return the favor and bring you along to a nice cozy jail I know of near here?”

She high-kicked the first robber and sent him crashing into his closest allies. With surprising speed, Artemis gripped the other two and brought their heads together with a crash. A final punch sent the other man sprawling on the floor.

The rescued scientists approached the heroine with appreciation.

“Thank you, Wonder Girl!” said the balding man who ran the lab. “I’m Dr. Stanley.”

Artemis corrected him quickly. “Actually, I’m calling myself Artemis now.”

“Those thugs broke in and attacked us!” said Dr. Stanley. “They wanted our notes on a special project we’ve been working on in association with some other researchers. Weird thing is, they didn’t literally break in on us. They entered with the proper security codes. When we struggled, that machine caught fire.”

The other scientist, Reynolds, grinned broadly. “We could use a goddess of the hunt to track down our colleagues. They’ve been missing.”

Artemis frowned. “If these men entered with a security code and you have missing partners, then just maybe they got their codes from your friends.”

She pulled one stunned intruder’s mask off and heard the other two scientists gasp.

“Good heavens! That’s Rob Brinkley. He is one of our team members,” cried Dr. Stanley.

Artemis unmasked the others and bound them in her lasso. “I’ve seen photos of this man as well — Rich Jenkins. I take it these five men are your missing allies.” She knew Jenkins from the welcome party Raeburn University’s Dean held for Terry. Jenkins worked at the college as a science professor.

Dr. Stanley shook his head in dismay. “They are, indeed. That explains why they vanished and how these intruders got our codes. But why would reasonable men attack us?”

Artemis said, “Maybe I can get some answers. What exactly were you working on?”

Dr. Stanley said, “A form of cybernetic governing system for animal training. We hoped that our devices would enable quicker and greater training for animals used as seeing eye animals, guard dogs, et cetera. We’ve had little luck thus far.”

Artemis reached over and gently ran one hand along the back of Brinkley’s head. She touched a metal plate near the neck. “Hera help us! I think your cybernetic controls work better than you imagined. Someone implanted them in your colleagues! That explains why men of science would suddenly turn into robbers,” she explained.

Dr. Stanley said, “The implants are robbing them of their free will! It’s shocking. I can help you, Artemis. Poor Brinkley, there, was the originator of the idea. He has a lady friend with a criminal past, according to gossip. She lives at 238 Park Place. Perhaps she was using him to get data on our work.”

Artemis smiled. “Thank you. I’ll check her out after dropping these poor men off for medical care.”

Shortly after she departed with the bound men in tow, Stanley made a telephone call, while Reynolds began to destroy everything in the lab after releasing the lab animals from their cages. Stanley said, “She is coming, my mistress! She fell for the bait as you expected.”

The light from the quickly sparking fires gleamed off metal implants on the back of the heads of the two scientists.

***

Meanwhile, Artemis made her way up the steps of a large house. She had left the mentally altered men with a hospital for observation. STAR Labs had already agreed to send over some experts in the area for their treatment.

“Hmm… This Panthea Vine lives well. She must have income beyond that which her lover Brinkley gives her,” she said.

She heard a cry from within and threw her shoulder against the door. It shattered, and the Amazon princess rushed inside, only to scream as electrical current surged through her body.

She fell stunned, and as the current was switched off from above, a new female form approached. She moved with feline grace and purred in satisfaction. She had long brown hair and wore a skintight cheetah-print costume.

“One down, one to go,” she said with a sultry smile.

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