Mystery Sisters of the Caribbean

Meet the Cast

Before the story starts, here are quick bios of the Mystery Sisters, the Alliance of Mystery Heroes, and a couple of their enemies. Anything else you need to know, you should be able to pick up from the story.

The Alliance of Mystery Heroes - a group of mystery heroes on Other Earth. The ‘Mystery Sisters’ are all members of the Alliance of Mystery Heroes. Zenith and Adventurine are the most experienced members of the group. Palette, Miss Music and Majique have only been heroes for a couple of years. Many of the other AMH members are male – sometimes referred to in this story as ‘the boys’.

The Mystery Sisters

Zenith (Victoria Waltyngfeld). When Victoria Waltyngfeld says her magic words, “I become Perfection”, she is transformed into Zenith, the World's Most Powerful Woman. Victoria is currently a Broadway playwright who looks a lot like the actress Dawn Wells from our own Earth. Victoria’s father is from Great Britain and her mother from Punjab, India. Zenith is dark, about 6’ 6” tall, has long, dark hair and a third eye in the middle of her forehead, and wears a red and black Shalwar kameez, the traditional Punjab suit. She is very powerful - she can fly, move at super speed, she is extremely strong, and virtually invulnerable, and may have other powers.

Adventurine (Bonnie Marlow Mason). Bonnie is a statuesque blond, very attractive, and a superb athlete. She looks almost exactly like Joan Wayne, a fictional comic book heroine. She wears a multi-hued green costume and carries a round shield made out of a rare metallic alloy, which is very light and virtually indestructible. Her skin-tight costume is made of 'armor cloth' - it is normally as supple as silk, but when it is struck, as with a punch or a bullet, it stiffens and distributes the impact over her whole body. Bonnie is married to Cody Mason, a.k.a. Red Rocket and they live in Chicago.

Majique (Valerie Coppersmith). Val is around 5'5", has long, black hair, swarthy skin, and is a little plump, looking a lot like a shorter, slighly overweight Cher. She is of Romish extraction, and in her civilian identity, she makes her living as a gypsy fortune teller. Besides being a fortune teller, Val often helps the St. Louis police in missing persons cases - she has a talent for locating people and things which are lost or missing. She has a strong affinity for magic. She can cast some spells on her own, but she prefers to use magical artifacts rather than put forth the effort required to become more proficient as a mage.

Val recently found what she calls her 'magic wishing pouch'. She can reach into this pouch and pull out a useful magic item. She can only use one magic item at a time, and the pouch must 'recharge' between uses; if she tries to use it too often in too short a period of time, it gets progressively more difficult each time. Some of the items she pulls from the pouch are permanent, while others disappear after they are used, seemingly at random. Val doesn't know it, but the demons Bhesoz and Shatez created the pouch and made sure she found it, as a means of releasing mischief on Earth.

Palette - Alex Silverstone. A tall, thin woman with short-cropped blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, she looks a lot like Ellen DeGeneris. Palette can project ultra-realistic illusions onto surfaces. Walls, skin, water, perhaps even clouds. She has a photographic memory, so she can 'play back' anything she has ever seen, including movies. As well, she can use her power to disguise herself or others. She has trained herself so that she doesn't need to concentrate to maintain an illusion, and she can project more than one, the actual number depending on the complexity of the illusions she is creating. Alex is a talented artist and sculptor.

Miss Music - Tammi Page. Tammy is very short, stunningly beautiful, with a spectacular figure and long, silvery hair. Her power is similar to that of Palette, except that it works with sound rather than light. She can project noises that seem to emanate from locations she chooses. Tammi often projects sounds even when she doesn't consciously mean to - Alex has grown used to hearing strange sounds whenever Tammi is distracted. She is headstrong, flirty, and a world-class gymnast. Alex often uses Tammi as a model for paintings and sculptures. Tammi and Alex live in San Francisco.

Other Players

Major Power – the most powerful man on Other Earth

Bhesoz and Shatez - A sister and brother pair of half-demons. Their demoness mother claims that they are the children of a very powerful human wizard and they inherited power from both parents. They had hoped to seduce Zenith into a life of evil when she was despondent about leaving her husband, several years ago. She rejected them and they have since cursed her – every time she says her magic words, her personality is changed a little, and she is becoming increasingly distanced from humanity.

*****

Mid-January, 1962

AMH Airlines Flight 101 to St. Thomas

"Goddess! I HATE New York winters!" Victoria Waltyngfeld complained softly to herself as she left her place of work, the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway, irritation twisting her beautiful heart-shaped face into an angry mask. "It wouldn't be so bad if it was snow, but this dirty, dingy slush is just intolerable!" The beautiful black-haired woman stomped her high-heeled boot in disapproval and then swore softly as wet sludge sprayed the brick wall of the theatre. "I don't know why I even bother! There's no one around to see, anyway, and I've got places to go.” She paused and glanced around one more time, just to be sure, then spoke firmly: “I become Perfection!"

As she spoke her phrase, she brushed the hair back from her forehead, rubbing the Perfection Stone in her forehead. In response to Victoria's magic word, something akin to a miniature comet materialized in the air above her head, and moved around her in a spiral, descending to her feet. It moved too fast to follow, and left behind it, for a fleeting instant, a glowing tail that encompassed all the colors of the rainbow, almost as if painting the air. In another fleeting instant, the rainbow cocoon was gone - and Victoria was… changed. Zenith, the World's Most Powerful Woman leaped into the air and vanished in less than an eye-blink, leaving behind nothing but a clap of thunder.

*****

In another place, infinitely far from the dingy streets of New York, yet separated by a magical veil as flimsy as tissue for those who knew the secret, two grotesque figures sat in a room full of flames, watching the amazing transformation through a magical window and cackling with satisfaction.

 

"Yes, brother, she has opposed us in the past, but I shall soon have her under our control. Be patient, and soon she will be our agent." The shape that spoke, the demon Bhesoz, was humanoid with red skin, female, larger than human, with giant horns on the front of her head.

"A patient demon, sister? Your sense of humor is almost humanly atrocious! My own plan should provide us with a new human agent much sooner than yours!" boasted the other, Shatez. The male demon looked much like his sister, save his skin seemed black as coal.

The two laughed again, and then turned their attention back to their magic window.

*****

Zenith sped crosstown through the night sky to the NY Headquarters building of the Alliance of Mystery Heroes in only seconds, then raced into the aircraft hanger. ‘Good!’ she thought with satisfaction. ‘The C-57D is set to go. Next stop, Chicago… then St. Louis, then San Fran and finally, St. Thomas! I'm really looking forward to a week's vacation in a Caribbean paradise.’

The C-57D was an alien flying craft which had been named by Miss Music, who was an enthusiast of 50s science fiction movies. A typical 'flying saucer' some 30 feet across and about 12 feet thick in the center, it resembled a scaled-down model of the famed flying saucer from the movie 'Forbidden World'. The Alliance of Mystery Heroes had confiscated it from an alien invasion force they had defeated in the adventure in which Miss Music, Palette and Majique had joined the AMH. The alien interior had been rebuilt into a comfortably-appointed cabin with human furnishings and ceilings high enough to accommodate the 6’6” Zenith. She was taking off empty, but she'd pick up her first passenger in Chicago in less than half an hour.

*****

"Tammi, why couldn't you pack last night?" Alex (Palette) Silverstone's voice showed her irritation with her tiny roommate. "I could have used an extra hour's sleep!" It was 4 AM; they were scheduled to meet Zenith, Bonnie (Adventurine) Marlow and Valerie (Majique) Coppersmith on the football field in Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park in an hour.

"We're going to the Virgin Islands for a week and you're grousing about getting up a little early?" Tammi (Miss Music) Page replied to her roommate, holding up another wisp of nothing from her dainties drawer, then throwing it in her bag after a headshake from Alex. "What do you think of this swimsuit?" It was a tiny bikini, yellow with red polka dots. In the background a popular rock and roll song was playing softly.

"I think you won't be able to see the sand on the beach, there will be so many boys around. If you're lucky, you'll miss the riot because they'll arrest you before it starts." Alex answered disapprovingly.

"Do you really think so? That's so sweet!" Tammi responded gleefully. She threw it into her bag.

"I like the metallic silvery one better myself." Alex replied. Tammi threw that one into the bag as well.

"What about this?" Tammi held up a pair of scandalous dresses which Alex knew had cost almost $300 each, a diaphanous sun dress and a little black cocktail dress with sequins, which Tammi wore to artists' showings, charity receptions and benefits, and other high visibility social events when she wanted to be the center of attention, which was all the time.

"We're not going clubbing, Tams, we're going to the beach."

"You'd spend the whole week in cutoffs and a grubby tank top!" Tammi complained. "A lot of rich people go there for vacation, you know. Heck, the Rockerfellows own half of one of the islands! They know how to take care of tourists, and they've got some great clubs. We're can't lay on the beach the whole time."

Alex gave up. As usual, Tammi would do whatever Tammi wanted to do. Alex set to work packing a picnic basket with breakfast for the whole group, and when Tammi was finally finished, the two headed for the park. Alex struggled to pull their big Radio Flyer kid's wagon, piled high with Tammi's three giant bags and her own small one. Tammi's 3 bags weighed more than Tam did! The dense morning fog distorted sight and sound, and Alex realized she could just pick out the muffled strains of the theme song for the TV Show ‘Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Theatre’ mixed with the distant moan of foghorns, following them wherever they went.

"Mother Gaia, I love San Francisco in January!" Alex mused. "I love the mystery inherent in a pea soup fog like this. You get the feeling that almost anything is possible, and might be revealed with your next step." Tammi didn't reply - she hated the cold and damp. When she'd moved to California, she thought she was moving to a mythical semi-tropical paradise where it would never be cold, but San Francisco in the winter could be bitter. If it hadn't been for Alex, she would have left again long ago.

Human senses and human-built instruments would have been baffled, trying to guide the C-57D to a precision landing in this pea soup fog, but the alien navigational instruments were up to the task. At 5 AM exactly, Pacific Standard Time, the C-57D touched down on the 50 yard line, and the Bay Area Bombshells boarded 'Alliance of Mystery Heroes Airlines Flight 101' to St. Thomas. The first annual Alliance of Mystery Heroes Girl's Only Week was underway!

Destination: Vacation!

"Since the Alliance of Mystery Heroes has our own 'airline', why are we flying so darn early in the morning?" Val grumbled as they floated up through the dense San Francisco fog. She had to speak fairly loudly to be heard over the faint whistle of the wind outside the cabin and the background music that she recognized as ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’.

"People who see the C-57D tend to panic and call the papers and start another UFO scare," said Zenith, disgustedly. "I'd rather fly by myself, but I'm sure not going to carry you guys!"

"You'd think that after that story about us in Life Magazine, people would recognize that the C-57D means Alliance of Mystery Heroes, not aliens. They should cheer when they see it." Tammi sniffed peevishly. "And they showed our story on the news on all three TV networks! How could they miss it?"

"Most people still don't believe in mystery heroes, even now," Bonnie soothed her. "Easier to blame every strange thing on UFOs than pay attention to the news." She changed the subject enthusiastically. "We've got reservations for a group of bungalows at a resort near Red Hook, just off the beach. They have all kinds of activities, and they even have a freshwater pool."

"And massage!" Tammi cheered. "And a great club."

"How are we paying for all this?" Val was worried; she didn't make enough (yet) from her fortune telling business to pay for a Caribbean vacation, and she'd just blown through the last of her latest reward for helping the St. Louis police solve another missing person case.

"No problems, mon," Zenith grinned at her as she tried to fake an island accent. "After Hurricane Jenny last year I did some rescue and reconstruction operations in the Virgin Islands, and the island government contacted the Alliance of Mystery Heroes to offer us free hospitality as a reward. At the November AMH meeting, when the five of us started planning a vacation without the boys, I remembered the invitation. Yah, mon, a perfect fit." The others nodded

"So everyone working for the resort will know we're the Alliance of Mystery Heroes?" Alex asked disapprovingly. "Tam and I haven't been able to keep our identities secret in San Francisco, and it's starting to get annoying having legions of adoring fans hanging around all the time, asking for our autographs or just staring at us, hoping for a chance to talk to us."

"I didn't mind legions of adoring fans, at first," Tammi added sadly. "It was cool being recognized and idolized - better than being a movie star! But now it's kind of creepy - there's people walking through our yard and all over our gardens, and yesterday I even caught some guy peeping through the bathroom window!"

"The government hasn't told the resort who we are," Bonnie reassured them. "To them, we're just another group of rich tourists." She looked around at the group and grinned. "Rich, beautiful tourists! Even if they don't know who we are, we're going to draw a crowd, you know. This is going to be fun." Tammi cheered up and laughed at this.

Magic Bottle

A little later, after they had landed discretely, Zenith changed back to Victoria and they checked in at the Red Hook Resort. They agreed to spend the morning unpacking and getting settled in, then meet for lunch. Alex finished unpacking in minutes; Tammi was just starting on her second bag when someone knocked on the door of their bungalow

"I can help you with your secret identity problem," Val announced cheerfully as she barged in. "Hold on." Without waiting for acknowledgement, she completed a short chant in a language unknown to either of the California girls, then dramatically opened her large leather pouch and reached in.

*****

Behind the magical gossamer veil in that far away yet nearby flame-filled place, the demon Shatez smirked in evil satisfaction as he spoke to the other. "Watch this, sister! I think you'll find it amusing…"

*****

"Oh, grotty!" Val exclaimed in disgust. "It's all wet and slimy!" She pulled her hand out of the pouch, clutching a large handful of dripping sea weed and fronds.

"Oh, GROSS! It's dripping icky slime on the carpet!" Tammi yelped as she jumped to her feet. "Get it OUT of here!"

"Tams, we're in a bungalow only yards from the ocean. We'll be tracking in sticky sand and dripping salt water all over everything all week!" With the keen eye of an artist, Alex realized that there was something inside the mass of seaweed, something that was the right size and shape to be a bottle. Her artistic curiosity was aroused. She took the wet mess from Val and started to examine it closely. Sure enough, there was something solid in the lump of weed. She carefully began pulling away strands and asked Val: "What is it?"

"I summonsed a magical charm that will cause people to forget your other identities, as long as it is yours. If you give it away, lose it, or it gets stolen, it will stop working." Val felt uneasy as she said that. She had a seemingly instinctive magical connection with the artifacts she summonsed, and she sensed that there was more to this artifact than the purpose to which Alex and Tammi would turn it. But it would do the job they needed.

Now that she realized how powerful this artifact was, she would like to have it back, to study and use to augment her own abilities once she'd figured it out, but she'd already given it away. It was unfortunate, but in a couple of hours she could summon another artifact.

The bottle was blue glass, made cloudy by long submersion in salt water, shaped like a hip liquor flask, and partially covered with corroded gilt-metal filigree. Barnacles clung to part of the glass surface. The metal cap was in surprisingly good condition, and there was something in the bottle, something that rattled when Alex shook it gently, though it was impossible to discern through the cloudy blue glass.

"Ooooohhh! I wonder if there's a genie inside?" Tammi asked in awe. "I want to make a wish!"

"No genie," Val said, uncertainly. "But I don't think you should open it. The magic is trapped inside the bottle, and it will stop working if you let it out."

"Wow! That is outta sight cool! Never seen anything like it!" Tammi exclaimed. Then, in a typical Tammi change of subject: "Let's hit the beach!"

Pirate Cannon

Just after noon a band of clouds blew by overhead, and it rained for about 15 minutes, a cool light refreshing rain that was the perfect complement for the beautiful warm, clear day. The 5 women were seated at an outside table shaded by palm trees, cooled by the constant afternoon Tradewind blowing out of the northeast directly down the Windward Passage and over Pillsbury Sound. About a mile out, she estimated, Alex spotted a sailing ship with 2 masts, heading directly downwind towards them under full sail. She realized she was hearing the rock instrumental ‘Tequila’; it seemed to suit the mood perfectly!

"So you guys still get pirate ships? I thought they were wiped out centuries ago," Alex jokingly asked their waiter. Her eyesight was well superior to that of a normal human, and she could see the Jolly Roger flying on the mid-ships mast even at this distance.

"There are a lot of sailing ships in our waters, and some of them fly that flag for a lark. But I don't recognize that one at all," the waiter replied, with the charming island lilt. Before he could say more, Alex stiffened.

"Crap - they're shooting at us!" She'd seen the smoke from the swivel gun on the bow.

"Probably blanks, part of the gag - and even if it were real, the maximum range of the guns on a schooner that size is only around a thousand yards. Nothing to worry about…" the waiter replied soothingly.

While he was speaking, something splashed into the water with a tremendous boom only a few yards offshore, throwing a geyser 40 feet into the air.

Somebody on the beach yelled "INCOMING. Out of the water!" in an incredibly loud voice and the resort guests and staff were suddenly screaming and scrambling towards shore and over the beach. "To the hurricane shelters!" the same voice was now shouting.

One of the staff was a veteran of World War II and Korea who had retired to St. Thomas to escape the stresses of the mainland, and he now called on his almost-forgotten command experience to try to bring some order into the chaos around them. Somehow, the background music had changed to the cannon part from ‘The 1812 Overture’.

Fortunately, a pirate ship only has one gun that can shoot forward, and it takes a trained team almost 4 minutes to reload. Alex could see that team in action, and she warned her teammates that the pirate schooner was about to fire its uncanny weapon again.

"I become Perfection!" Victoria cried out in her strong, clear voice, while swiping the hair back from her forehead. Once again, the magic comet swirled around her, draping her in a gauzy aura of bright colors, and when the colors faded, Zenith stood before them once again.

At the same instant, Alex yelled "They've fired again!"

Zenith leaped into the air and flashed towards the attacking pirate ship. She saw the incoming cannon ball, about the size of a fist, and her speed easily allowed her to fly to intercept it. It would shatter harmlessly against her invulnerable form, and then she'd easily wipe up the pirates and she wouldn't even miss lunch.

Except it didn't work that way. The 4 pound iron ball smashed into her and exploded, releasing stinging mystical energies that blasted her backwards through the sky! The impact was worse than being kicked by Major Power in a full contact training exercise; in fact, she'd never been hit harder. She spun groggily through the air and crashed down on the beach she'd just left, gouging a long ditch through the sand until she finally stopped moving, just short of the table where her teammates were still sitting. She tried to struggle out of the ditch, and managed to drag herself to a sitting position, and then slumped over, unconscious.

"Crap," said Tammi, very softly. "I think we're in trouble!"

This is a job for… the Mystery Sisters!

The other four women had been sitting absolutely still, unbelieving, as they watched the World's Most Powerful Woman get casually blasted out of the sky. When she couldn't rise, and instead collapsed unconscious it was like someone had thrown the 'On' switch. There was a sudden flurry of activity and in an instant the table was empty, as the heroines ran back to their rooms to don their costumes. In less than three minutes they were back - Adventurine, Miss Music, Palette, Majique - ready to fight for truth and justice. Instantly the air was filled with babble.

"What are we going to do against someone who can knock down Zenith so easily?" "We need a plan of attack!" "I sense powerful magic." "Follow me, we need a speedboat!" "I can't swim!" "They just fired another cannon shot but it's going to miss." "I'm supposed to meet Derek for a walk on the beach at 2:30. I hope that splash doesn't get icky stuff in my hair." "They're turning." "What if they hit one of us?" "I think there's a ghost on that ship." "The schooner was a commonly used ship for piracy in the 1600s and 1700s." "I hope everyone's in the hurricane shelter by now." "We need someone who can fly."

"WHO SAID THEY'RE TURNING?" Adventurine's roared question was so loud it stunned even Miss Music into silence.

Palette’s powers gave her the equivalent of built-in binoculars. She answered, "You should be able to see it now, too, look."

"Sailing ships used to have to turn broadside in order to fire all their guns at an opponent" Adventurine said quickly. "We need to move!" As she spoke, they could see multiple puffs of smoke from the side of the boat. It would take a couple of seconds for the gunpowder-propelled volley to travel the half mile to shore.

"Quick, into the pool! Dive and hold your breaths as long as you can!" The 4 heroines ran to the side of the pool and dove in. A few seconds later, they heard several explosions and the sounds of destruction on the grounds above them, weirdly amplified and distorted by the water of the pool. After around 30 seconds, it was quiet again. Adventurine signaled to the group to surface. Debris was dropping into the pool and sinking around them, but nothing dangerously large.

"It should take a few minutes before they can fire again." She climbed out of the pool and looked at the debris around them. "They must have used chainshot, look how things are torn up. We should try to get out of their firing line before they can reload."

"Hey, who died and made you boss!?" Miss Music asked petulantly.

"I've been Adventurine since 1955 - can you match my experience? Can we argue about this later? Or we can go back into a huddle and babble at each other again until the bad guys manage to shoot us. Besides, unless you shut up and follow orders I'll beat the crap out of you when this is over - if you live through it." She was already headed towards the resort's boat shack.

"She wouldn't dare, the ancient bitch. This isn't over yet!" Miss Music mumbled to herself. Palette overheard.

"Shut up, Tams!" Palette ordered. "She's right. We'll take her orders for now, and vote on a permanent leader later."

"You always give in to the bossy types!" Miss Music complained, and then shut up. ‘Lucky for me,’ she continued the though silently, as she knew she was pretty bossy herself, and she always got her own way with Alex. It was part of her charm.

 

Majique never followed orders unless she wanted to anyway, so it didn't make any difference to her if Adventurine wanted to be in charge. Val certainly didn't want to be the one responsible for giving the orders, so she followed the group towards the boat shed.

A quick inspection of all the boats in the shed and Adventurine was swearing. "No keys!"

"No problems, mon!" Majique grinned as she hopped into a fast-looking powerboat, patted her hair, crouched in front of the instrument panel, and within a few seconds, the motor coughed, then kicked over into a powerful purr. "I'm driving! Where we going?" the Romani heroine asked cheerfully.

"Out and away in a hurry - they should be ready to fire another broadside - and that last round was pretty accurate!" Especially from over a half mile away, she thought. She'd heard Majique, probably, say that she sensed a ghost; events so far definitely suggested they were facing a magically-powered foe.

Prepare to Ram!

The team piled into the boat; Adventurine used the edge of her shield to sever the lines, rather than wasting time untying them, and then almost fell out of the boat as Majique opened up full throttle.

As they raced through the ocean-facing door of the shed, Palette pointed at puffs of smoke blowing away from the schooner and exclaimed, "You were right, they just fired again!"

Majique whipped the wheel around to the right, and boat heeled way over and threw up a grand plume of water, then slapped back down and almost threatened to go over the other way as they raced off in a new direction. They didn't see the incoming fire, but they heard stuff whistling through the air, and the boat shack simply vanished, cut to tiny pieces by the mystically-charged chainshot. A wide swath of vegetation behind the shed was torn to tatters as well, and some of the bungalows exploded into shards before the deadly hail ran out of energy.

"I sure hope everyone got out in time!" The devastation was enough to awe even Tammi into quiet.

"They're dropping their sails" Palette noticed. The fast motorboat had by now carried them much closer to the schooner, and everyone could make out more details. Still, Palette's sharper vision picked up the next stunning surprise. "The crew is all skeletons!"

"They're launching rowboats," Palette observed next. "Five or six skeletons a boat, three boats total." The powerboat roared onwards. "Crap, they're shooting at us." A couple of pirates in each boat aimed pistols or blunderbusses in their direction. Palette noted that their actions were jerky and slow, and the bobbing of their own boats made aiming even more difficult.

Val advanced the throttle to about half power. In the choppy waters, this made it difficult to steer in an absolutely straight line, so she decided to use the forced motions, and she started weaving their course from side to side. Smoke puffed from the ancient firearms, and one of the guns exploded, shattering the skeleton which had been holding it. None of the heroines was hit, or heard any bullets zipping by, or even saw any splashes nearby. The other skeletons began rowing, and the three boats moved faster than the heroines would have believed possible. Majique aimed the speeding powerboat at the closest pirate rowboat.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Adventurine demanded, shouting to be heard over the roar of the powerful motor. She was afraid she already knew the answer.

"Rammin, boss! Nobody shoots at me and gets away with it!"

"We're the good guys, Val. No killing, no matter what the bad guys do!" Adventurine insisted.

"Nobody 'live over there to kill, boss. They're all animated by magic - I can sense the spell. It's what I'm good at, trust me." By now, there wasn't any choice. "I drive pretty well, too!"

Palette suddenly realized what was about to happen and she screamed at the top of her voice "Mother Gaia! We're going to die!" She held on tightly as they rushed towards the other boat. ‘Give her credit,’ Bonnie thought, ‘She's not jumping!

Miss Music was screaming at the same time, but not in fear. "YAAA-HOOOOOO!! GANGWAY!! Comin' THROUGH!"

Skeleton pirates were diving overboard, and then the powerful speedboat sliced through the smaller rowboat, cutting it neatly in half with nary a shudder. Majique threw the wheel hard over, and with another giant spray of water, the racing speedboat heeled far over to the left. With the heroines hanging on desperately, the boat careened almost in a full circle, then dropped back to normal and Majique gunned it again, and just like that the second rowboat was gone.

"Hunh!" Val grunted in disappointment. "Hardly a bump. It must have been rotted through."

Adventurine was holding her stomach inside through sheer willpower. "What next, hotrod?" she asked weakly.

"Ever seen a speedboat fly?" Majique lined up on the last rowboat, the skeleton crew of which was now frantically rowing back towards the pirate ship.

Adventurine plotted their projected path and moaned. "You must be kidding!" But she didn't try to stop their maniac driver. In a crazy moment, she thought she heard an orchestra playing Wagner's ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’.

"Nah, mon! You and the artist better move to the back of the boat. And get ready to jump."

"Don't wait too long yourself, Val!" Adventurine touched her teammate on the shoulder, got a nod in return, and carefully moved to the back of the boat.

"Oh, crap. I hate flying without a plane!" Palette screamed, but she also crawled to the back of the boat, and the bow came up a bit.

"Jump for one of the sails," Adventurine advised Palette. With shield in hand, though, she had other ideas for her own target.

On the bow, Tammi held to the safety rail with both hands and screamed. "WHEEEEEEEEEEE! PREPARE TO RAM!" She was loving this wild ride! The Ride of the Valkyries was roaring thunderously now, even louder than the engine!

Two instants before they hit the last rowboat, Majique jerked the wheel left, then instantly back to the right. The bow of the speeding boat bounced higher when it passed over its own bow wave, and at that exact instant, Val pushed the throttle to maximum. The next instant, they hit the rowboat and the speedboat lifted entirely out of the water, like it was jet-propelled, flying higher than the schooner's deck.

Boarding Party

"The Mystery Sisters are comin' at you, bad guys!" Miss Music was screaming at the top of her lungs. "MYSTERY SISTERS, PREPARE TO BOARD!"

The powerboat was now flying majestically towards the mid-ship's deck, right at the partially doused foresail. For an instant, Majique worried that it was going to jump entirely over the mid-ships deck and crash down into the water on the other side, but then the bow started to drop and she knew her aim had been good. "Abandon Ship!" she yelled dramatically.

So far during this trip, Adventurine had been building the impression that Tammi was nothing more than a worthless spoiled brat, but the youngster was proving her worth now! Tammi launched herself towards the foresail. "GERONIMO!!! Wahhhh HOOOOO!" She did a graceful flip in the air and crashed into the sail feet first. Instantly the canvas tore like tissue paper and she continued through, startled. For an instant she thought she was going to go overboard, but she spotted a line that hadn't been tied off hanging from one of the topsails and she strained to reach it. A second later, she was whipping out and around and then swinging down towards a crowd of skeletons on the foredeck, accompanied by a tremendously loud Tarzan yell.

Adventurine made some noise herself. "GO GO GO!" she commanded the rest of her team. She went herself, leaping towards the aft deck, where a pack of skeletons awaited, clothed in colorful tatters of cloth, rusty swords drawn. For just an instant, Bonnie was a little jealous of Miss Music's grace and the effortless tumbling ability she had just showed off. She, Adventurine, was supposed to be the costumed athlete on this team! She swung her shield up in front of her and crashed into the massed skeletons like an avenging thunderbolt!

Palette screamed too, a wordless, almost hysterical primal howl, as she leaped, aiming towards the rear of the schooner and the drooping mainsail. As she flew through the air, she saw a woman, not a skeleton, in full pirate regalia, wearing a tricorne hat with a patch over one eye, brandishing a sabre in one hand and the ship's wheel in the other.

The woman was shouting in a voice louder and raspier than any woman had a right to own. "Defend yer ship, ye scurvy dogs! Stand yer ground am kill ter filthy wenches, r'I'll run ye thrrough meself!" The woman released the wheel and charged forward to join the fight.

As Palette struck, the heavy sailcloth sheet snapped taut and started to tear, but the rotted canvas finally held and stopped her headlong flight. She rolled down the curve of the sail to the main boom which stretched back over the aft deck.

Majique leaped for one of the climbing nets that the sailors used to reach the upper rigging. This was an unlucky choice on her part; a rotted section of the net tore when she hit it, and she crashed partially through, then it wrapped around her, entangling her in a mess! She turned the air blue with Rom curses as she dangled in a cocoon 15 feet off the deck, safe from the battle for the moment but unable to join in the fight. She struggled to clear an arm and reach the dagger strapped to her ankle.

The now descending speedboat crashed through the foresail boom and plunged into the mid-deck, shattering a dozen skeletons, then smashed into the old, partially rotted deck planking. It finally stopped half way through, the rear of the powerboat sticking out of the deck like a leaning tombstone. The motor roared at full throttle.

The skeletons weren't very dangerous opponents. They were slow and clumsy, and very fragile, and whatever magic was animating them deserted them when their flimsy bones were shattered in combat. But there were a lot of them, and they all had swords. Adventurine's diving attack turned a dozen of them to dust, and their enraged Captain ran forward and attacked her with a wicked, powerful slash of her sabre. The debris on the deck made it difficult for Bonnie to stand, and she barely managed to block the thrust with her shield. She was jolted by a spark of some mystical energy as the ancient sword glanced off her shield, knocking her backwards. She rolled until she reached a clear area of the deck, and sprang to her feet.

Meanwhile the Pirate captain was exhorting her crew: "Would y'be naught but babes suckling at yer mother's teats, run t'ground by yon pair of brazen ladies? Quit yer gagglin' an run 'em through!"

As she leaped forward to continue her duel with Adventurine, the other skeletons on the aft deck surged forward to attack Palette. She pulled a heavy wooden belaying pin from the rack on the main mast, set her back to the mast and starting swinging the pin in wild arcs. She knocked aside the closest rusty blade, easily snapping it, and battered through the rib cage of one skeleton and into the head of another.

On the foredeck, Miss Music saw that she was about to swing into a thistle of rusty swords, so she released the line and flew over their heads. She did a graceful flip and half twist, landed lightly well past the knot of pirates, bounced once high into the air in a backflip to absorb her momentum. She landed gracefully, and did a sweeping bow to her applauding fans. "WHEEE!" Tammi yelled. "This is FUN!"

She danced between the two nearest skeletons, who slashed at her with rusty swords. She ducked their clumsy swings easily, and they shattered each other. But there were too many of them to fight this way, so she used her powers to whisper a warning of her next attack into the ears of her distant teammates. The crashing explosions of cannon fire, drawn from ‘The 1812 Overture’ and amplified into a deadly sonic attack, blasted out of the air in the middle of the skeleton pack and a dozen of the closest skeletons vaporized into dust.

On the foredeck, Palette had to cover her ears, though Adventurine's helmet protected her. Majique had just managed to cut free of the cocoon of rotted netting, and the blast hit her in the air as she fell to the deck below. She screamed and frantically wrapped her arms around her head, and then swore even more as she smashed down onto a couple of unfortunate skeletons. The impact momentarily stunned her. Fortunately, by now the mid-ships deck was clear of enemy skeletons - for the moment.

On the aft deck, Adventurine and the Pirate captain were engaged in a weird duel. Bonnie's costume and shield protected her from the sabre, and the mystical energy it discharged when she blocked a thrust or slash was growing weaker with each attack. She tried to go on the offensive, but the Captain was able to become insubstantial at will, and her shield attacks, punches and kicks passed through seemingly empty air. She and the pirate were both becoming increasingly frustrated with the fight, and as Adventurine blocked yet another skilled, powerful sword attack, the Captain screamed.

"Damn ye, woman, what magic be this? The sharks take yer wretched body and the devil take yer worthless soul, ye foul wench clad in ter damned colors of seaweed! Hide ye not behind that cursed trinket, draw blade an acquit yerself like a woman a'steel!"

"Brave talk from a cowardly ghost, hiding in your astral form!" Adventurine dropped her shield and picked up a rusty blade from the deck. "Let's see you stay solid and fight!"

Meanwhile, Majique had crawled to the railing on the mid-deck and finally pulled herself to her feet, where she glowered at the skeletons who were approaching her. She needed a weapon, fast! She reached into her pouch and felt something cold and wet; she grasped and pulled. She found she was grasping the wet, slippery hilt of a 2 foot long cutlass. Though it was dripping sea water, it was in perfect condition. Jewels sparkled on the gold edged basket, and the blade, covered with shining runes, looked as if it had been painstakingly cleaned and oiled just an hour ago.

Val had done some fencing earlier in her life, but she'd never used a cutlass. Still, she had faith in the items her mystical pouch produced for her. She defiantly raised the sword in front of her.

Instantly, every skeleton on the ship dropped to the deck, lifeless. The pirate captain let out a wail like a banshee.

The Goddess of Watr’y Doom!

"Damn yer soul ta hell, ye wretched witch! Ye've stolen ter Shining Blade of Glory an broken ter spell holdin' Gr'Bash n'thrall. She'll soon be rainin' doom n'destruction down 'pon us all! If ye want any 'ope a seein' another sunrise, ye'll turn yer weapons way from me'n me crew an 'elp us kill ter foul beast afore it destroys us an all else in this world an ter next!"

The pirate captain stopped moving and dropped her sword arm to her side, bring the weapon's point to the deck. Adventurine broke off her attack. "This better not be a trick!" she said

"Currrse yer soul, ye slimey harlot! It's Anamaria Saldana yer talkin' ta, not some lyin' popinjay. Yer lackwit meddlin's set free ter thrice-damed Gr'bash, ter Godess of Wat'ry Doom, ter menace the worrrld."

"Anamaria Saldana? She was one of the most famous lady pirates in the 1700s," Palette observed. Her hobby was studying famous women in history. "Captain of the Black Lusca. Terrorized the islands for years, then just disappeared."

"Aye, runnin' afore ter scurvy dogs of Woodes Rogers, we werrre, when that curs'd Gr'Bash rose outer ter deeps and dragged us an r'poor wreck of a ship to r'watr'y grrrave."

"So you're a ghost? I don't believe in ghosts," Miss Music piped up. At that instant, the ship rocked, then rolled way over to one side. The heroines were knocked off their feet and had to scrabble to keep from sliding down the deck before the ancient ship slowly righted itself. Anamaria floated serenely above the chaos. A giant tentacle, covered with suckers, rose out of the water and smashed down on the deck of the battered ship, tearing through the rotted planking like paper.

"Don't matterrr what'chr believes now, does it, poppin?" Anamaria turned to face Val, and commanded scornfully "Ye prettified coward, strike now wit'ter Sword a'Glory 'ere we're dragged ta Davey Jones' locker, an me fer a second time!"Stung by the accusation of cowardice, Majique shook off a daze and slashed wildly, and her enchanted blade sliced into that awesome tentacle at the same time as the pirate captain's own magic sword. There was a roar of pain from under the ocean. The tentacle tightened spasmodically and cracked the rotting Black Lusca in half, and then the shattered boat rocketed skyward on a bulge of water rising from sea as the giant monster of the deep surged towards the surface.

Zenith to the Rescue

"Demon Mother! What hit me?" Back on the beach, Zenith sat up painfully. She looked at the long ditch she'd dug when she'd crashed to the sand. "Must have been some magic in that explosion. Nobody's ever hit me like that before!"

She tried to stand up, fell to her hands and knees, tried again and succeeded. It was outrageous! It was enough to make a girl angry. She had the powers of a goddess. "NOBODY swats me from the sky like a bug! Somebody is going to pay for this, big time!" Ignoring a slight feeling of disorientation, she looked out over the channel. Good, the pirate ship was still there. There was something wrong with it. She didn't bother to figure it out, why waste the time? She'd see it close up in a second.

She lifted into the air, hovered for an instant and then the beach was empty, until the sonic boom raised a vicious dust devil. A long narrow finger of vapor trail pointed accusingly at the pirate ship.

The Mother of All Kraken

Adventurine, Miss Music, Palette and Majique were swept out of the air by their powerful teammate almost before they knew they were falling. Adventurine instantly sized up the situation. "We have to lure that thing to shore so we can fight it."

"Who died and made you boss?" Zenith asked in a hostile tone.

"Hey! That's just what I said!" Tammi cheered. Then she looked down at the monster rising from the deep and her expression went from cheerful to worried. Eerie music was playing softly; Val recognized the theme from the 50s movie ‘The Creature from 20,000 Fathoms’.

Adventurine sighed. "OK, land us on that island there," she pointed north to Grass Cay "Then do whatever you want." If Zenith wouldn't listen to her, there was nothing she could do about it. She had to hope the Most Powerful Woman in the World would cool off before she did anything stupid. Bonnie had a feeling that beating Gr'Bash would require all their efforts.

In two blinks they were on that shore, where the 5 women and a ghost watched Gr'Bash rise from the sea. A shark's head the size of the Hindenburg rose inexorably behind the giant wave, and the mouth chomped mightily on the wrecked Black Lusca. The head shook violently in a typical shark attack, scattering the remains of the ancient warship like toothpicks.

Anamaria wailed in anguish. "Loathsome hellspawn! I be stuck on this world twixt Heaven n'Hell 'til ter day ye die, trapped b'my own foolish dyin' curse. Today's ter day I'll pay yer wit'steel n'scuttle yer bones! No quarter will ye git fr'm me, ye scurvy beast!"

The creature spit out the last fragments of the shattered schooner, and continued to rise. Instead of flukes and a tail, the rear half of the giant monster had the tentacles of an octopus.

"It's a Kraken!" shouted Palette in awe.

"Nay, ye flamin' twit! Gr'Bash be ter cursed mother of all Kraken!" Anamaria shouted back angrily. "Goddess of Watrrry Doom, trapped b'me sacrrifice and ter magic of ter Haliphrrron. Released onto ter world by your stupidity." She lifted in the air, then rushed towards the monster, her sword extended in front of her like a mystical warhead. Zenith raced off after her.

Making a Plan 

On the beach, Adventurine was quietly, steadily cursing Zenith for refusing to follow directions while simultaneously trying to figure out a way to defeat a monster over an eighth of a mile long. "Val, can you pull some magical mystical monster poison from your pouch?"

Majique was apologetic. "Sorry, I already used it twice today. But I still have the Sword of Glory," she brandished the cutlass she'd earlier pulled from her pouch. "It has the power to hurt that thing." The magic of the pouch gave Val an almost instinctive knowledge of the magical artifacts she pulled from it.

"Hey! Leader Lady!" Miss Music interrupted with a demand. "I wanna get into this fight, right now!"

Bonnie sighed. "OK, here's what I want you to do. Jump way up into the air as high as you can, then create a roar like a rocket under your feet. If you can make it loud enough, the sound waves ought to lift you like a missile."

"WOW! You really think so? The Human Rocket to the Rescue!" Palette and Majique hastily put their hands to their ears and Adventurine hurriedly turned down the gain on her helmet's hearing system. Tammi leaped as high as she could, and unleashed a roar like standing next to a 707 getting ready to taxi, but only for the short instant it took for her to fall sprawling to the sand.

Bonnie turned to Majique as if nothing had happened. "Tell me about the Sword of Glory," Adventurine suggested.

"Anamaria and her pirates stole the Sword of Glory from a Spanish treasure ship, and they were taking it to the Haliphron when Gr'Bash attacked and destroyed the Black Lusca. Anamaria went down with the ship, cursing the monster with her dying breath. Her first mate, Nigel Blackheart, managed to draw the Sword of Glory before he was swallowed whole by the Goddess. Nigel cut his way out of her stomach and stabbed the Sword of Glory through her heart. The human magic of the Sword wasn't powerful enough to kill a Goddess, but it did put Gr'Bash into a coma, as the Haliphron had planned. Poor Nigel died when Gr'Bash sank to the sea bottom. Unfortunately, when I asked for a magical weapon to fight the skeletons earlier, the pouch pulled the Sword of Glory from Gr'Bash's heart – releasing her from the coma."

"Any other big, bright ideas, Miss Smarty Pants?" Tammi interrupted. "That one was nothing but a big flop!"

"Jump into the water and point your arms over your head, then make a really loud motor sound behind you. The noise ought to push you through the water like a jet boat!" Adventurine suggested.

"Boyoboy! The Human Torpedo to the Rescue!" As Tammi ran enthusiastically down the beach to the water, Majique snickered.

"You shouldn't tease her like that," Palette chided her green-clad leader. "She's going to get mad. It's not fun when she's mad…"

"If she leaves me alone for a few seconds, I'm working on an idea," Adventurine mused. She made a mental note never to trust Majique's pouch again – it had certainly solved the problem of the skeletons, but she would rather face a thousand flimsy undead skeletons than one angry giant Lusca, who also seemed to be a Goddess to the Haliphron – whoever they were. "Alex, can your power fool that monster into seeing something that isn't there, by projecting right onto her eyes?" Bonnie asked Palette.

Alex was startled. "I never thought of that. I couldn't hit something as small as a normal eye from this far away, but her eyes are as big as boxcars. Sure, what do you want her to see?"

"Still thinking…." She threw a gob of sand at Tammi, who was roaring like a powerboat and had actually managed to move a few feet offshore by this time, to get her attention. "Miss Music, I need you to tell Zenith to keep the monster busy for a while, and get Anamaria back here!"

I’ll Bet That Hurt!

The monster was faster than Zenith expected, and it quickly caught her with a powerful tentacle. As soon as she felt the slimy grasp, she started spinning her body at super speed. Almost instantly, the friction generated enough heat to dry the monster's rough skin, and seconds later the beast screamed in pain and threw Zenith violently away. As soon as the hero was free of the terrible embrace, she could hear Tammi's voice yelling at her out of the air.

"Hey, Apex Babe! The bossy lady has a plan. You have to keep the monster distracted by fighting it for a couple of minutes."

Zenith stopped spinning and hung in the air, swearing violently. "What do you think I'm @#$#@in' doing, playing ^&%*&in' ping pong?"

"Sorry, honey, I can see you screaming, but I’m not listening, though I'd really love to hear what you're saying." Tammi's voice said sweetly from the air around her. "I'll bet it'd work good with Alex. Uh oh, you'd better…"

Zenith never heard what she had better do. A fist made of two tentacles wrapped together smashed into her with tremendous force and she tumbled through the air until she crashed into the sea, miles away.

"Oh, my, I'll bet that hurt!" the air where she'd been spoke to no one in particular. "Off we go, into the wild blue yonder…"

After dispatching Zenith, Gr'Bash turned south, and headed for St. Thomas. She could sense that in the time she'd been trapped, the island had become infested with many thousands of humans. She was ravenous after her long nap!

At the same time, Tammi was also sending her voice to Anamaria. "Hey, Patch, the slimy Harlot has a plan. She needs your help, though."

"Shiverrr me soul!" the ghost said to the air. "It bitter be a black-hearrrted plan, ter send ter bloody beast ter Davey Jones fer once and alll!" She reversed direction instantly.

The blow from Gr'Bash had momentarily knocked Zenith out, something that had never happened before, and she was sinking in the warm water when she came to. She was momentarily disoriented and felt strangely weak. Still, she managed to right herself and head for the surface, then launched herself into the air and after the monster. She realized she had to stop Gr'Bash from reaching the island!

She raced ahead of the giant Lusca, dove and reversed directions until she was rocketing directly towards the monster's head, only a few feet above water level. She'd heard that sharks are vulnerable to a blow in the snout; she was about to find out if this held true for the shark-headed Gr'Bash. She pushed herself to her limit, straining for more and more speed. Weakened as she was, she could barely break the sound barrier, an instant before she slammed into the giant beast's snout.

The tremendous impact shattered windows on the nearby islands of St. Thomas and St. John and was heard as far away as St. Croix, over 30 miles to the south. The armored skin of the Goddess was proof against the blow, but the energy dissipated by the impact was tremendous, and instantly vaporized thousands of tons of water. A vapor cloud blasted upward from the Sound, shooting miles into the air. Both opponents were jarred to a halt, and in her weakened state, Zenith was a little dazed. Even so, she realized that touching Gr'Bash had weakened her just a little bit more. The Goddess apparently had the ability to leech her mystical powers from her!

Still, she was Zenith, and she had never failed before, and she wasn't going to fail now! She punched again and again, battering the giant monster, driving it back, conserving as much power as possible by using her speed so that each of her punches only touched the leech for nanoseconds. The Goddess seemed annoyed but not injured; merely inconvenienced. This made Zenith even more furious, and she attacked ever more furiously, battering the giant snout over and over, until finally she heard the crunch of bone.

Gr'Bash had been snapping at her, but Zenith was faster, and the giant creature's deadly jaws kept snapping shut on air, but in her anger the heroine had forgotten the octopus arms of the Goddess of Watery Doom. She was grabbed by a tentacle and thrown to the sea, where a roaring jet of black fluid washed over her!

Like touching the Goddess, Br’Bash’s ink leeched Zenith's power. The touch of the stuff made her feel ill. It covered her body; she couldn't escape, and it HURT! She felt as if she was the center of a swarm of magical bees, stinging her over every micron of her body. The pain was maddening; she couldn't escape and she couldn't even think! Before she could even move again, she was snatched up by another tentacle and hurled through the air, and then she slammed into something and she came to a halt.

In tremendous pain and almost delirious, Zenith climbed to her feet, and returned to the attack. She might die today, but she was ZENITH and she would never give up.

Bangles with a Bang!

Back on shore, Adventurine was trying to find out what resources were available to her team. She was particularly interested in Majique; from earlier adventures she knew that the St. Louis Sorceress always carried a veritable arsenal of magical items and concealed weapons. Respecting her teammate's desire for privacy, Bonnie pulled her off to the side and spoke quietly.

"OK, Val, time to come clean. I know you carry a bunch of magical charms with you all the time - how can you help?"

"Everything I'm carrying is irreplaceable!" the mystic heroine complained. "No way it'll help against that sea monster."

"Listen, lady! It was your pulling the damn sword out of your bag that let this monster loose on the world. You are going to us help fight it, in any way you can, or else." She didn't say what 'or else' meant, but left it to Val's imagination.

"It's not my fault!" the sorceress whined. "I needed something to fight the skeletons! And it worked!" Val argued. "Anyway, I think it's time to call the boys."

"We won't need the boys for this one," Adventurine said firmly. "If we call them, they'll always think of us as helpless. We can beat this thing, just us 'girls'. Now, what've you got?"

One advantage of the over-the-top faux Gypsy costume Val always affected was the opportunity to load up with bangles and jewelry, camouflage for some of the more useful items she liked to carry. Even knowing what to expect, Bonnie was stunned at what Majique revealed. Her teammates had privately wondered how she could wear such voluminous clothes in this heat; Bonnie discovered that one of her earrings kept her cool while the other allowed her to overhear distant conversations. This was just the start!

Of particular interest to Adventurine were Val's ring and bracelet, the contents of some pouches in her belt, and a needle that she was using to hold her long hair up and out of her face.

"Neat gimmicks: a ring of silence, a shocking hair needle, flash powder and blackout powder. I can see how they could be useful," Adventurine commented. "But why do you need a bracelet that makes people believe you when you lie to them?"

"It's for an emergency, and it will only work once!" Val explained hastily. "I've never used it." Right now, Adventurine didn't have time to follow up on this; she had a battle to win! She moved to the ghost, asked more questions.

"Captain Saldana," she addressed the ghost formally. "Tell us about Gr'Bash. Does it have any enemies? Do you know of any weaknesses?"

"Ter sunken Haliphrron whisperred'at ter mangy beast 'ates and fearrs ter bloody Grreat White Whale most of alll, tho' they fearred to speak 'is name. Ter Sword o'Glory kin lay'er low. I'vve 'eard of naught else't kin teich 'er."

"Moby Dick?" Miss Music, who was shamelessly eavesdropping, interrupted. "I don't believe in Moby Dick!"

"Don't know na'whale name a'Moby, but ter Grreatt White Whale's rreal as meselllve. But yer don't believe'n ghosts, nytherr, do yer, poppin?" Anamaria floated through Miss Music's body, and the tiny heroine shivered with the deathly chill of the ghost's astral form.

"Don't do that!" Tammi stamped her foot petulantly.

Adventurine called the rest of the team together for a council of war. "OK, here's the plan" she laid out her ideas.

"You're nuts!" Val exclaimed loudly. "That can't possibly work. Without Zenith and the boys, we don't have a chance!"

"Tis a bloody coward, ye are, an all yer fancy gimgaws can't 'ide it!" Anamaria told her scornfully. "Ter worst atkin 'appen is ye'll all die."

"Easy for you to say, ghost!" Majique snapped back.

"I love it!" yelled Tammi, effectively cutting off the argument. "Time for the Goddess Busters!!" Alex was quiet; the plan depended largely on her power and she didn't know if she could carry out her part or not.

At that instant, Zenith was smashed to the beach, where she crashed into a sand dune and vanished into the earth.

Break a Leg!

"Looks like you're on, ladies!" Adventurine pointed out cheerfully. "Break a leg!"

"S'long's it's me pegleg" Anamaria cackled as she again took to the air in pursuit of Gr'Bash. She was carrying the Sword of Glory, as well as Val's ring of silence, the shocking hair needle and a pouch from the mystic's belt which held the flash and blackout powders.

Gr'Bash had turned her attention back to St. Thomas and its infestation of humans. Nothing like a little exercise to help work up an appetite; now that she had taken care of that imitation Zenith, it was time for lunch! This allowed Anamaria to fly up behind her unnoticed.

On the shore, Palette was wearing Val's bracelet; Bonnie hoped it would help convince Gr'Bash that the images she was about to see were real. Alex was watching Anamaria closely to help coordinate the ghost's attack with her own and that of Miss Music. Val and Bonnie looked on avidly, for in Bonnie's current plan, they were now both just observers.

Anamaria swooped down over the back of the monster, and slipped off to one side. As she flew past the giant Lusca's left ear, she threw Val's ring inside. "B'doin' yer task well!" she admonished it. She floated unobserved across the back of the monster's head, and an instant later, she threw a handful of blackout dust into the Lusca's right eye. Gr'Bash shook her head in annoyance, and blinked her nictating membrane to clear her eye. At that instant, Anamarie stabbed into the pouch with the hair needle.

Activated by the stabbing motion, the mystically-charged needle produced a very high voltage spark, which ignited the fistful of flash powder Majique had donated to the cause. Instantly there was an intense flare of magical light, only inches from the giant eye of the Lusca. She jerked her head away from the flash.

"Gr'Bash, my immortal enemy, prepare to DIE by the flukes of Coragle!" a voice thundered directly in the right ear hole of the Goddess's shark head. As her sight returned, Gr'Bash was stunned to see a giant White Whale, as large as she was, leap out of the water and hurtle through the air towards her. She instantly recognized Coragle, the God of the Frigid Depths of the Haliphron, her ancient and immortal enemy. She turned and leaped from the waters, her awesome jaws open in the deadly attack of the bull shark, ready to snap shut on the tough, rubbery skin of her ancient Nemesis, puncture and tear it, and then shake violently to rip apart her enemy. She never thought to wonder why Coragle was speaking English.

On shore, Palette was replaying the famous attack scene from the 'Moby Dick' movie in her mind, and projecting the scene onto the lens of Gr'Bash's right eye. It was a difficult task - she was scaling the White Whale up to be a match for Gr'Bash (Gr'Bash was about 10 times as long as Moby Dick…), and changing the colors of the movie to match today's sky and location, while aiming at a difficult moving target. She could not possibly sustain the effort very long, but the illusion would be dispelled shortly anyway, when Gr'Bash failed to impact the imaginary Coragle at the height of her jump.

Miss Music was using her power to shout directly into Gr'Bash's right ear hole at the highest volume she could muster. Shark hearing is very acute, and Tammi's best volume was painful to the Lusca goddess. And the silence in her other ear only added to her distraction.

In pain from the bones broken by Zenith's violent attack, enraged beyond human understanding and seemingly under attack by her immortal enemy, Gr'bash launched herself into the air and braced for impact against the unimaginable mass of Coragle, the Whale God of the Haliphron. At the last instant, she chomped her jaws closed with bone-shattering force! All she swallowed was air - and the ghost of her human Nemesis, the ghost of Pirate Captain Anamaria Saldana, armed with the mystical Sword of Glory.

As her First Mate had done, almost 250 years ago, Anamaria used the Sword of Glory to cut her way to the heart of the goddess. Once again, the Sword's magical enchantment put the giant beast into a coma, and Gr'Bash started sinking to the bottom of Pillsbury Sound.

To the Moon!

Zenith came to and realized that she must be thousands of feet under the surface. Using her third eye to reveal ‘that which is hidden’, she quickly determined which way was up, and blasted in that direction until she reached the surface. Finally able to see again she spotted Adventurine and Majique not far away and flew towards them. She could also see the motionless body of Gr'Bash slowly sinking into Pillsbury Sound. She hovered above the scene, and yelled to her teammates.

"How did you kill Gr'Bash?" She realized she was a little disappointed; she felt as if she still had a score to settle with the Goddess of Watery Doom.

"She's not dead, just back in her coma," Adventurine called back. "Any idea about where to store her?"

"Leave it to me. I'll be back in a couple of hours!" Zenith dived into Pillsbury Sound, and came up under Gr'Bash's comatose body. Exerting herself, she lifted. It was the hardest thing she'd ever done, and if it hadn't been for the extra power she'd absorbed earlier, she might not have been able to succeed, but she slowly lifted Gr'Bash from the water, and then slowly continued to rise skyward. Zenith felt as if she were trying to push the Earth out of orbit, so massive was the body of the Goddess. Eventually they vanished into the sky.

Finally, Vacation

When Zenith returned, she found a private spot to change back to Victoria and went looking for her teammates. The other four were seated outside their bungalows, enjoying a drink and waiting for their teammate before heading to dinner. She was a little miffed because she'd spent the last few hours wrapping up the latest case, while they had been relaxing on the beach.

 

Even in her anger, though, she was stunned at the microscopic metallic-silvery bikini Tammi was wearing – how could anyone go out in public dressed like that? Then she thought of some of the strangest things an actress had to do on stage, and she realized that for Tammi, all of life was a stage. You did what the role called for.

"So, where have you been?" Tammi wanted to know. "You've missed a lot of fun already! You HAVE to try the massage, and make sure you ask for Frank Draegon! It was dreamy!" she sighed, dreamily. "But you gotta make an appointment early - he's busy all day every day."

"Or you could ask for Tiffy," Alex added, glaring at her roommate. "She's VERY good."

"As usual, I was wrapping up the final details of the case, while you guys were lazing in the sun," Victoria snorted. "I figured Gr'Bash would be safe on the far side of the Moon." She smiled when Val handed her a giant margarita; it was tough to stay miffed in Paradise! "Even if the Sword of Glory is somehow pulled again, she didn't seem to be able to fly, so she should be stuck there. How did you guys beat her, anyway? She took my best shots without flinching."

"I've been thinking about that." Bonnie replied musingly. "My plan was good, but it seemed way too easy. You must have hurt her a lot more than you thought, probably came close to knocking her out." Bonnie replied. "We took advantage of her being groggy, and used some of Val's magic items to further confuse her, and Tammi and Alex convinced her that she was being attacked by her Nemesis - then Anamaria and the Sword of Glory supplied the finishing touch." Each of her teammates smiled as Bonnie gave her credit for her part in the victory.

"Speaking of Anamaria, where is she?" Victoria wanted to know.

"We thought she was gone forever when she didn't show up for a couple of hours after you headed for the sky. Turns out she was moping; she was incredibly depressed when she discovered she's still stuck being a ghost. She told us she'd hoped that saving the world from Gr'Bash would release her from her own dying curse, and she could go on to the afterlife. But Gr'Bash is still alive so it looks like she's stuck on Earth a while longer."

"That's horrible," Victoria shuddered. "It must be awful, being stuck halfway between life and afterlife."

"I wouldn't worry too much about her," Tammi replied with a big grin. "I think she'll be OK. Some handsome tourist named Chuck Caracal heard us talking, and came over and claimed to be fascinated by her 'accent'. He chatted her up for a while, and pretty soon he promised to help her learn modern English, if she'd teach him more about how to talk like a pirate. Smoothest line I've ever seen," she added admiringly. "And I've seen them all!"

‘And fallen for them all, too, I'll bet!’ Victoria thought, but didn't say.

"Yeah, she didn't look all that depressed last time I saw her!" Val added, a little jealousy apparent in her voice. She turned to Tammi.

"Say - I tried to get an appointment with Frank today and they told me he was all booked up. How'd you manage that?"

Tammi winked wickedly. "I have my ways! But don't worry, we'll be here all week. I'm sure you'll get your turn."