by Martin Maenza
It was a beautiful spring day in thirtieth-century Paris. The sun was shining down, and the smell of fresh blossoms filled the air. It was the perfect time for one to enjoy a break at an open air rooftop cafe, as many patrons were indeed doing.
A dark-haired waiter approached the small table where a blonde haired woman wearing a blue dress sat alone sipping her drink. “Will there be anything more, mademoiselle?” he asked in a slight accent.
“Non, merci, monsieur,” Imra Ardeen Ranzz replied in his native tongue. “Juste l’ addition, s’il vous plaît.”
The waiter was surprised by her grasp of the language and with such an accent. “Oui, mademoiselle,” he said with a smile, touching the surface of the table. Suddenly, a small display appeared and allowed him to quickly review her order. “Voici votre facture, mademoiselle.” He departed the table, allowing her to handle the payment whenever she was ready.
The woman reached back to retrieve her handbag, which matched her dress. It was small, for she really had little need to carry much with her today. Not like having to tote around a bag for Graym’s things, she mused to herself. The young mother was happy that her husband Garth and sister-in-law Ayla had offered to watch the child for a few hours.
I can take some time to go shopping for myself, she thought, taking out a small card from her purse and swiping it into a grooved slot at the edge of the table. Immediately, the system registered her account and took the creds to satisfy the cost of the meal. Before she could even put the card back in her purse, the transaction was completed.
“Still,” she said, leaning back in the chair to finish her drink and enjoy the scenery, “there’s no rush. It’s my day to relax, and I’m going to enjoy it.” Imra smiled just thinking about it. She couldn’t imagine how quickly this euphoric feeling would fade.
“…we’ll take out the big man permanently! He won’t know…”
The thought, those words, blared like morning reveille in her head. It caught her by great surprise, but she knew the sensation in an instant, having grown up on the moon of Titan that orbited Saturn.
She had picked up someone’s thoughts, but not normal human thoughts. This was a snippet of a powerful telepathic conversation. The inflection was unmistakable, too. The person was angry, almost violent. These had to be the thoughts of a killer.
Imra glanced around the restaurant very quickly but was not picking up anything more. She then looked skyward and saw the vapor trail of a public transport disappearing on the horizon. It had to come from there, she concluded as she grabbed her handbag and rose from the table quickly. She wasn’t sure who the thoughts had come from or what they had planned, but she could tell it wasn’t anything positive. With a thought, she took off into the air and in pursuit.
Thanks to her Legion flight ring, standard issue for the famed intergalactic super-team, it wasn’t hard for Imra to follow the transport. Still, the vehicle had a good lead, which forced her to push the ring to its limits in order to catch up. As the gap narrowed, she was able to make out more about the ship.
“It is what I thought,” she said to herself, “a public transport as opposed to some commercial or private vehicle.” The ship could easily have over a hundred passengers on it, not counting crew, she calculated. That might make things a bit more difficult, but not impossible.
She considered, for a moment, about contacting the Legion Headquarters back in Metropolis. Being a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes had its pluses, mostly in the fact that the team was so diverse. If she needed backup, these were the best people to have in her corner. She’d known these people for over half her life now.
Imra was fourteen years old when she came to Earth from Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, to join the Science Police Academy. On that fateful day, she met Rokk Krinn of Braal and Garth Ranzz of Winath, and the trio managed to rescue billionaire R.J. Brande from being attacked. This single event lead to the formation of the super-team that Imra was proudly a member of to this very day.
Still, it wouldn’t hurt to get some information. Using the communicator within her ring, Imra contacted the LSH Headquarters. It was Chameleon Boy who happened to be on duty at the time. “What can I do for you, Imra?” he asked.
“Reep, can you run me some information on a transport vehicle? Identification marker R3-2TW79. Current flight plan, please.”
There was a pause for a moment while her Durlan teammate ran up the information. “A public carrier that makes routine flights through the European circuit. Currently running a circuit from London to Paris with stops in between. You’re in France, are you not?”
“I am, Reep,” she said, having her visual identification of the vehicle confirmed. “Thanks for the info.”
“Need any other help?” Chameleon Boy asked.
“Not right now, thanks. Saturn Girl out.” And with that, Imra ended the communication. The transport vehicle had slowed to dock at an enclosed station atop a five-story building. I need to be there when the passengers disembark! And with that, the blonde rocketed toward the landing bay.
By the time Imra was near the departure ramp, the double doors to the craft were wide open, and the passengers were well on their way to departing. With a keen eye and an open mind, she scrutinized everyone that passed through the doors.
Over the years as a Legionnaire, Imra had encountered a number of telepathic races, most with distinctive appearances that could not be missed. A Hykrain, like my teammate Tellus, or a Gil’dishpan won’t be hard too hard to spot, she admitted to herself. But others are a little more trickier to locate. Most Titanians, like herself, could easily pass as any citizen of Earth, since it was humans from Earth that colonized the largest of Saturn’s moons back in the twenty-second century. However, Imra was extremely gifted with her mental abilities to the point where she could easily pick up the psychic imprint of a native from Titan with not too much difficultly.
One race, though, that was known for its telepathic abilities would be very difficult to spot. That would be a Protean, a shape-shifting native from a small planet that orbited the star Antares. Having the uncanny ability to change their forms and assume any shape they desire, Proteans were nearly impossible to pick out in a crowd. Luckily, though, Saturn Girl had firsthand experience with the race and knew that they were quite friendly and almost devoid of hostility. I think I can pretty much rule out one of those as the source of the telepathic threats, she thought.
Her eyes were being of little help. If anything, they were distracting her. Imra would see couples in love, parents with small children, and various individuals from many of the races she’d seen over the years as a super-hero. No, to catch this telepath, I need to focus on that, she thought to herself. Her eyelids fluttered closed for a moment as she relied exclusively on her sixth sense.
For a moment, there was nothing. But Imra knew she had to be patient.
“Hurry, you oaf! In order to catch him unawares, we must strike while he is still vulnerable!”
There it was — the same exact telepathic voice she had caught a snippet of before. The killers were still here.
Imra opened her eyes once more, glancing around the room. Which ones? she thought. As she turned to where the mental voice had appeared to come from, she only saw a lone figure — a large, hulking figure with orange-pink skin. He, she assumed the gender, was hairless with a heavy thick jaw and broad shoulders that slumped as he lumbered along. His soiled clothing was tight over the rather muscular body, and he had a large humped back.
Imra paused for a second.
The figure was alone; obviously no one was traveling with him. In fact, many of the people in the crowded station seemed to shy away from him, either because of his impressive size, his unattractive features, or possibly some foul odor that came from his body. Where’s the other one?
“Down the stairs!” the telepathic voice blared in her head. And the hulking figure seemed to follow the command.
He’s got to be one of them, Imra thought to herself. The other must be nearby. If nothing else, I need to keep an eye on him to prevent this murder, whoever the target is. She was thankful for all those years of training in surveillance that Lyle, Tinya, and Reep had imparted to her. While she wasn’t a regular member of the Legion’s Espionage Squad, Imra did know a thing or two about tracking a suspect.
She hurried down the stairs after the man.