“Traitor!” she yelled as she came to consciousness, “Traitorous Troll scum! I knew better than to ever trust one of your kind. Some of your green monsters killed my Earthly mother. I knew it!” She fought the stone restraints that the Troll Princess had put on her and the others. She was agitated the most……there is a history of Princess Grace and Trolls. Her Super Group, the Altair Guardians, was also infiltrated by some type of doppelganger making them all very untrustworthy of suspicious situations like mine. But something set them off. Why now? What caused them, my friends, and peers to attack me now.
Troll stood proudly, arms crossed, calm like she usually is under pressure. “First of all, none of my people were responsible for your mothers demise I assure you of that. There are many untruths to be said about my people. Many in the science community want people to believe we are all monsters; a by product of the human synthesized Superdine. The truth is we were here way before man’s discovery and distortion of a common plant that we have been using for centuries. No, those are not my people. Those are a bastardization of our bloodline, brought on by man’s encroachment on our lands and misuse of our horticulture. I know Dr. St. John-Smythe and his Institute did much research in the 80s on the Trolls, but I’m afraid many of his conclusions are just wrong. He is an honest man, one I owe my life to, but I’m afraid he and his scientific peers have done irreparable damage to the proud children of Grendel.”
“I don’t want to hear your propaganda, Troll.”
Voice only slightly raised, “Secondly, this was no double cross I assure you and my other friends. I sincerely apologize for the way we stopped the raid but I was given last minute information that could not be confirmed in time. I tried to stall but you….YOU…insisted.”
Grace looked me in the eye. “Praetorian! Let me go and I’ll apprehend her.”
Speeding forward was the much overmatched teenager, Winterflux. “You won’t lay a hand on her space woman! Not if I have anything to say about it!”
“Enough little one” boomed the voice of the alien Tellania, one of my oldest and dearest friends. She grabbed Winter’s shoulder gently. Onceti May, Hoard of Souls and Medistar stood in the background on guard but silent. “Look, I apologize that we have you restrained and I hate that you feel betrayed. I understand your being upset but time would not allow us to explain things we had to act swiftly so you wouldn’t harm Mental. She is innocent of your charges.”
“Explain the missing fingerprint and DNA identification. Explain the differing medical information.” She stopped when she noticed the surprise on our faces. “Yes, you see we have inside information as well. Privileged information that you were suppressing” she pointed at me. She continued, “What I don’t understand is how you all can actually believe that she is not a Praetorian? I mean….”
“Let me say something,” Frozen Passion interrupted her cohort “Ever since I got word of this ‘thing’ that happened to you I have had my suspicions. You aren’t the same…..”
“I’m quite aware of the changes. I’m living them and trying to figure this thing out as well but I assure you that I AM ME!” I began to sob heavily.
“Let me finish, please.” She looked at her captors, the Spartan Guard, her team members and closest friends. “Mental Maden has always been a friend to the Guard and to Graces group, but I am convinced this isn’t her. In my gut I know it and I’m not going to let us get infiltrated by one of them. She is not one of us…never has been. Sure she’s teamed with us and all but she is not a Spartan. Why protect her? Why?”
The normally quiet Medistar walked forward. He is a man of few words and what he says usually carries weight with those who know him. “I’ve known this woman longer than any of you. We have fought many battles against the worse foes this city has known. Praetorians being just one of those groups. We all know her; show her some respect. I too am not affiliated with either of your groups but I think all of you trust me. She is Mental Maden, leave her be please. At least hear her out.”
“Leave it to an empath to be swayed too heavily by his emotions.” Frozen Passion said with venom. “She is not Mental Maden.”
“She…..” we were all knocked back by a precise explosion that broke their stony shackles and sent shrapnel flying in all directions. Stellar Knight, traps and munitions specialist. Tricky. Tricky.
Stunned but unharmed the two groups looked at each other for what seemed an eternity. They assumed defensive positions and waited for the first person to strike. I stood in between the groups face full of tears and I did something unexpected. The fear, pain and anger all bubbled to the surface as that little part of my brain that was once a tumor violently began vibrating sending a shockwave to the ground. I screamed in terror and agony as the floor became liquid from the harsh oscillations emanating from inside my head. Everyone fell to the ground stunned unable to move.
“Stop this now! Stop fighting! NOW! I have been your friend…your colleague. I am not what you say I am .”
“Prove it then” Frozen Passions said as she stood.
“I can’t, I don’t know whats happened……”
“We can.” Tellania said confidently, my head whipped in her direction in disbelief.
“And how do you plan to prove that?”
“If we can talk privately away from Mental I can explain.”
“Away from her??? Why can’t you say it in front of her? Shouldn’t she already know this great proof of yours?”
Now I was even more confused.
“It’s a sensitive matter. I think it best we tell her separately….not under these circumstances. You don’t understand.”
“Oh, I understand completely. Stop with the lies and trickery and just hand her over…”
“Wait. Wait. If we can prove that she is not a Praetorian can we put an end to this conflict and move on?” Tellania said in near desperation.
“If you have proof I will apologize and beg you for my forgiveness.”
Frozen Passion interrupted, “How can you prove that she is not the Praetorian Mental Maden? How do you know that?”
“Because I killed her. That’s how” said a voice from the shadows. “I killed her Praetorian myself.” The statuesque figure of Solar Mistress walked into the room. She seemed somber her head down as she walked.
She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said to me in her sweet Irish voice “I watched her die myself…..in flames…a horrible death…I can still hear her…your screams. I can still see her….your face in agony. I can still see her…your dead, charred body.” She fell to her knees in grief. “I’m sorry Mental…I’m so sorry.”
(To be continued)