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First pages

Chapter 1

It was a usual afternoon of taping at WPGL’s Manhattan studio. The complex food chain of production assistants, directors, producers, editors and talent went about their business, trying to produce the best shows that the station could to garner those coveted ratings and maybe catch the eye of a higher-up in the process to lead them to bigger and better things. The engineers just laughed at their coworkers as they scurried about and focused on keeping the equipment running and the signal on the air. Primarily a news provider, the entity did produce some shows with original content, including one that was quite popular with the housewife set and anyone else with time to kill in the afternoon.

In Stage C, the home of said program and also the largest of the sound stages, a tall, busty, brunette bombshell in a form-fitting black kevlar jumpsuit with white boots and gloves stood in the wings of the stage behind a curtain, out of sight of the audience and surveying them through her green visor. Interns hovered around her, buzzing like flies and sneaking what they hoped were stealthy ogles, but definitely weren’t as she caught every one of them. The hero tapped her foot nervously as she waited for the sign to go out. Out on stage under the bright house lights, in front of several imposing cameras, a lean, mean-looking black woman with a buzz cut and a blue pantsuit was talking to the crowd about her next guest. They responded with laughs and cheers, full of energy and life as they made a ruckus that was normally associated with sporting events. Astrogirl just sighed and adjusted the microphone that was clipped to the white star on the costume that was over her prodigious bosom.

"Nervous?" a short, bookish PA asked her, standing on his tiptoes so he could be nearer to her ear, which bothered her, but was a necessity due to the overwhelming noise from the audience clapping. Astrogirl looked at him. She thought he had said his name was Marvin, but she couldn’t remember. Everything had been such a whirlwind since she arrived that Astrogirl was still feeling a little turned around. It didn’t matter. She didn’t plan on being there very long. He was holding a clipboard and waiting for the command over his headset so that he could usher her out onto the stage while at the same time trying to sneak a peek at her chest. It wasn’t difficult, considering how she towered over him, placing everything right at his eye level.

"No. Yes. Maybe a little. I'm not used to doing this sort of thing," Astrogirl admitted, ignoring his lack of commitment to eye contact. "Fighting criminals is fine and dandy but doing rep work for the Global Defenders isn't really my bag."

"Then why do it?"

"It's a hazing ritual, I think. All the others have done their share, save for Avenger. He's too cranky and moody for this sort of thing. Not really very talkative either. As the newest member with barely a year under my belt, they probably feel that it's a good idea for me to get some face time so that the populace recognizes me as part of the team. That and then the big guns don’t have to do it."

"That seems like a smart plan. You certainly have an, um, presence," the PA said.

He opened his mouth to say something else but then stopped as he instead listened intently to the chatter coming in over his head set. He turned to her and waved her out onto the stage frantically. "You're on now, Astrogirl. Good luck. Walk slowly and remember to wave. Take your time. They won’t bite."

The statuesque woman gulped, took a deep breath and stepped out from behind the curtains and made her way across the stage of one of the biggest talk shows in the world and wished like hell she was punching somebody's face in instead. The Darcy Panell program was a phenomenon of sorts, and it scared Astrogirl to even be associated with it. Darcy had cut her teeth as a reporter in the New York area and wowed the world with her no-nonsense style and straight shooting in her investigative reports. She could have been an anchor easily, but she knew the money wasn't in that job. Instead, she was given a talk show in the hopes that she could bring a more human element to her style. It worked. Now her word carried more weight than that of anyone else when it came to things like movies and books or any other item where the public opinion of consumers was needed. Her sponsors loved her and tried to curry her favor whenever possible. If you wanted to sell something, you wanted Darcy Panell to like it.

Unfortunately for Astrogirl, superhero teams needed that kind of publicity as well. When you had people who have the power of gods running around, you wanted to remind the citizens daily that you were good people and weren’t going to crush them like ants. And so here she was, trying not to trip over her own feet as she made her way out to the couch where she was supposed to be interviewed, unable to hear anything over the loud din of clapping and screaming and the hollering of the throngs or people beyond the hot, bright tungsten lights.

Astrogirl made her way to Darcy, who spread her arms wide in a hug and embraced her, forcing the heroine to return the gesture while trying not to look awkward, despite having about a foot and a half on the smaller woman. They separated and Darcy worked up the crowd more, demanding more applause and getting it as Astrogirl stood there next to her, waving a little and hoping she didn't look as ridiculous as she felt. Somewhere, she knew, the rest of the Global Defenders were having quite the laugh at her expense and she dreaded the video replay that would inevitably happen when she got back to their home base.

After what seemed like a half-hour, Darcy made a motion to silence her adoring fans and turned her attention back to Astrogirl, the former reporter’s eyes bright and sparkling in the light, barely hiding the cunning that made her such a ferocious interviewer with a toothy smile. Astrogirl sat when indicated onto the ruby red love seat that was reserved for guests. Darcy took a seat at the smart, minimalist black, wooden desk emblazoned with her name that was a few feet to the left of the couch. A mug filled with water and bearing the words "The BOSS" sat on a coaster in front of her. Astrogirl's own water was in a plain white mug on a coffee table by the couch.

"Welcome, Astrogirl," Darcy began, still smiling while her eyes flicked all over her guest, taking in everything about her appearance, from hair to heels, settling only for longer than a second on the woman's ample bosom and the star attracting attention to it, which resulted in the slightest hint of a frown. It disappeared as suddenly as it appeared and Darcy was all smiles again. "It's great to finally have you on the show."

"It's great to be here," Astrogirl replied smoothly, summoning a sunny smile of her own and trying to add an enthusiastic bubble in her voice, wondering all the while how people said that sort of thing without sounding like a complete tool box.

"So you're the newest member of the Global Defenders, our favorite team of superheroes, who have defended the earth from threats foreign and domestic more times that we can count. Tell us about yourself."

"Well, um. Where to begin? I was born in another dimension, a parallel universe to be precise, on the planet Galliston."

"That name sounds familiar. Is that in our galaxy?"

Astrogirl thought for a second, trying to remember what parts of Titan's biography was public knowledge. In this universe, Galliston was his planet before it was destroyed by an asteroid that crashed into it and obliterated all living things. He was the only known survivor, being off planet in part of his country's fledgling space program when it was obliterated. He came to Earth through a wormhole and developed super powers due to cosmic radiation, making him a walking superman. She couldn't remember if he had ever told anyone this so she decided to be discrete.

"No, it was in the Argos galaxy, way past the boundaries of your own. My people were a race of humanoid creatures that power from cosmic energy, which we could manipulate to fly, among other things."

"Cosmic energy, what's that?"

"Star light, for the most part. Our bodies absorb it and use it to power ourselves."

"How did your people come to be this way?"

"It was through genetic engineering. My race was constantly under attack by others and we needed soldiers to protect ourselves. Soldiers who had powers that could turn the tide of battle on their own."

Titan's own powers were similar, but natural to his race. It was through investigating alternate dimensions that scientists on her world saw him and based their own power set on Titan’s. She'd keep that rumination to herself, however as she was pushing the boundaries of credulity as it was.

"And what happened to your planet?"

"It was destroyed, along with the rest of my universe, in a crisis of infinite proportions. It was a creature called the End of Days, a god of sorts that ate matter and possibly even time itself. It devoured my entire dimension and would have gone to another if not for the intervention of your superheroes here, who devised a way to stop it by trapping it in the void that it left behind in its endless hunger, where it presumably ate itself."

"My god. That's terrible. So all of your family and friends--"

"--are dead," Astrogirl said sadly. "They were consumed by the thing. We just couldn't stop it in time. My world was one of the first to go. I was off planet at the time, having left to seek out other heroes to help fight it. Our world was one of the most technologically advanced so it has been theorized we were targeted so we wouldn’t be able to come up with a countermeasure."

"Well, I for one am glad you made it here," Darcy said, getting up and giving her another hug. "Aren't we all?" she asked the crowd, and it roared in response.

"Thanks," Astrogirl said, feeling a bit of elation in response to the cheering and slightly more at ease.

Darcy sat back down and continued her interview.

"So, what special abilities do you bring to the defense of the world?"

"Well, I can fly. I can also shoot energy from my hands."

She held out her palm and a little ball of light popped into view. Giving a lob, the ball soared above the audience where it exploded into a tiny shower of fireworks. The crowd was impressed and sent up another round of cheering.

"Very impressive. Are you indestructible, like Titan? He's powered by the sun too, isn’t he?"

"No, not so much. I generate a force field that's maintained at all times for my protection." Which wasn’t exactly true, Astrogirl thought. Maintaining the shield and firing the blasts concurrently took a lot out of her, so she usually dropped it so she wouldn’t burn through her power so quickly. No sense in giving her enemies a leg up on her with that bit of info. She didn’t think she’d get into the strength augmentation or healing boost either for the same reason. At first she could only do one at a time, but with time and practice her abilities and her skill grew so that multitasking was almost second nature, even if it was taxing.

"That sounds exciting. Now, these energy blasts," Darcy said, her demeanor changing and eyes narrowing as she switched modes and became all business. "Are they destructive?"

"Well, they certainly can be," Astrogirl replied, taken aback by the sudden change in her host. "It all depends on how much force I put behind them."

"You seem to put quite a lot of force behind them, from what I've seen in my research."

"Well, sometimes the bad guys that we fight are tough and we have to be tougher to taken them down."

"Even at the expense of public property?"

"I beg your pardon?" Astrogirl asked, feeling very uncomfortable the line of questioning was taking.

"Public property. You know, buildings, bridges, monuments and the like. Even private property, too, as I imagine your attacks don’t discern between owners."

“Things like that do get caught in the crossfire but I do my best not to damage anything."

A grim, knowing smile crept onto Darcy's lips.

"Do you?" she asked quietly.

"Of course. I would hate to think that I'm a public menace when I'm only trying to protect the citizens of the city and the rest of the world."

"But you are a menace. Make no mistake about that.”

"What?" Astrogirl asked, surprised and feeling a hot flush of anger fill her cheeks.

"I said that you are a menace, Astrogirl. In fact, I have some footage I'd like you to see. Roll the clips, please," Darcy called out, and a large movie screen lowered from the ceiling behind them for the benefit of the audience so they could see what the viewers at home would be getting full screen on their cathode ray tubes. Then the room darkened and the show began.

The flickering light of the projector gave life to clips of the stunning brunette in action. She was a like a flowing bit of visual poetry. Every punch was a verse. Every kick a stanza. Every energy blast a brilliant and bright bit of beauty that felled foes with an amazing grace. When she flew, other women wanted to be her and men simply stared, starstruck. Astrogirl smiled. She felt the appreciation for her acts was long overdue.

Then the other shoe dropped.

Projected on the screen, larger than life, were images of Astrogirl fighting various super-criminals, and even some regular ones. Some she tackled solo, others, she had the help of her teammates. In each one, however, she was causing an enormous amount of destruction with her blindingly vicious attacks, firing them at her foes as they enraged her and who in turn dodged them so that the blasts hit structures behind them. Or the foe became engulfed by the attacks as she scored a direct hit that would turn them into human missiles, sending them flying into objects and toppling cars and carts. Roads, bridges, buildings and even some people were affected by the battles she took place in and Astrogirl witnessed firsthand on screen how scary they could seem from the view of an outsider, from someone not involved in the superheroing gig as mighty blasts rumbled forth in choruses of cacophony and shattered stone and metal with relative ease.

In one fight with a villain, who she thought was named Gigasteel, she hit the gigantic metal man with a gasoline tanker truck that she picked up off of the ground. The resulting explosion ripped the road and nearby buildings apart with its blast as people ran for cover. Astrogirl noted that it did work, knocking out the thug handily and blasting off an arm to boot, which was a point in favor of that method. There was not lasting harm from that either, as the arm was easily welded back on later.

The footage then switched over to what she almost thought was a commercial for a charity for war torn or impoverished countries, as people sat there in pain from horrible injuries whist being attended to by medics. A child wandered through desolation while covered in soot and scratches looking for his lost parents. Several body bags were lined up in one shot with weeping widows and widowers screaming in anguished horror over the loss of their loved ones who were zipped up in front of them.

Astrogirl looked out over the audience quickly and saw rage and sadness in their eyes as they stared at her. Several women were crying hysterically over the emotional pornography that was flickering across the screen. It might have been heat from the studio lights on her, but suddenly she was feeling rather warm and uncomfortable there on the couch. She looked back and saw Darcy's mouth tight in feigned anger. The talk show host rubbed her eye and a tear appeared after she took her hand away. Conveniently, the video ended and Darcy turned to the audience so they could see her wipe the offending droplet of water away.

"Now do you see what kind of terror you are, Miss so-called superhero?" Darcy berated her. "All you cause is suffering and pain because you are too great to see us as anything more than ants in your way as you play your super-powered games. In trying to be like the real heroes, you’ve become as bad as the villains."

Astrogirl narrowed her eyes, barely visible behind the metallic green of her visor.

"That's not true," she said angrily, her jaw clenched as she fought back harsher words for the woman. "There was damage, yes, but I didn't cause all of that. The bad guys did a lot more than me and I'm the one who stopped them from doing worse. Those injuries? Those deaths? That is on the villains, not me."

"And that excuses you for your actions?"

"No. That's not what I mean."

"What do you mean, then? That they started it? That's hardly a good reason for destroying anything in your path."

Astrogirl felt herself reaching the boiling point as her anger grew. She grasped the arm of the couch hard as she leaned towards Darcy.

"I. Saved. Lives,” she spat out through gritted teeth. “I'm sorry that things sometimes escalate but I do the best I can to make sure that people don't meet a worse fate at the hands of maniacs."

She had more to say but was interrupted by a chorus of boos from the audience. She turned and they were standing and incensed, glaring at her with hatred and disgust in their eyes.

"Somehow," Darcy bellowed pointing a finger at her, "I don't think that's good enough. But what can we expect from someone who flaunts her sexuality the way you do. You're hardly a role model and it's hard to believe you're part of the Global Defenders, unless they started letting in trollops. Just look at that costume. You obviously care more about showing off than doing what is right."

The couch was thrown backwards violently as Astrogirl stood up, her eyes blazing with cosmic energy that crackled in the dry air of the studio. There was a loud crack as it hit the back wall and split in two, the cushions being thrown wide into the wings.

"This is a warrior’s uniform from my home planet! It might be too racy for you, but that’s your problem. I’m proud to wear it every day I’m out here on the job!" she shouted, ripping the microphone off and throwing it against the wall where production assistants had to duck out of the way of the shrapnel as it shattered. "I'm out of here. You may not like it, but I'm a hero. Remember that the next time one of these madmen is parading around and needs to be stopped."

With that, Astrogirl stormed off the stage and towards the hallway that led to the dressing rooms, her boots stomping mightily on the floor as she stalked away. She heard Darcy addressing the audience behind her, one last dig at her before the hero left.

"Superheroes--here to save us or destroy us? I think we found out where Astrogirl stands on the matter today. For our next topic..."

Astrogirl didn't hear the rest nor did she care to. She walked by the assistant, Marvin, from before who cowered a bit when she looked at him.

"Can you tell me where the exit is?" she said, trying to make her voice sound like she wasn’t ready to kill someone.

"S-s-sure. Please don't hurt me," he said, hiding his face behind his hands.

"Oh for the love of god. I'm not going to hurt you," she yelled, exasperated. "You know what? Forget it. Sorry about the ceiling."

"What about the ceiling?" he asked, confused, looking up at her for clarification, but she was already gone. His gaze continued upward where there was a crunching noise and then a human shaped hole in the roof. The assistant stepped out of the way of some small, falling debris and dust and stood there watching Astrogirl fly off through the new skylight as others gathered around him.

"That was kind of hot," he said breathlessly and then quickly walked away from the mess on the floor before anyone could think to stick him with the blame. Or with the cleanup.

 

The cool, late afternoon air was refreshing as Astrogirl flew away from the debacle at the television studio, letting the sun shine on her and recharge her spirits. It was still a beautiful day out despite the way the talk show interview fell apart on her. She raced between the skyscrapers of the city, glancing into the windows and seeing startled office workers gawk and drop their papers as she zipped on by. Deciding that this might not be the best course of action for someone just outed as a public nuisance, she adjusted her flight path so that she went up, up over the buildings and towards the few lazy clouds that were hanging about and slowed down to a more moderate and controlled pace.

It was so peaceful and quiet up there, with the sounds of traffic diminished, like the sound of a faraway cicada on a summer night. There was no sense of urgency or impending disaster. No reporters with an agenda gunning for her. Astrogirl put some serious thought into just hiding away in the clouds for awhile and getting some rest when her reverie was split by an electronic ringing in her right ear.

The buckle of her belt was flashing a bright blue, which meant only one thing, as that was where she kept the controls for her Global Defenders communicator.

Someone was trying to contact her, so she was probably in trouble.

Astrogirl toyed with the idea ignoring it or putting it on silent while she found a hole to crawl into. Instead, she did the responsible thing and answered it with a double tap on the buckle. Titan would have found her with his telescopic vision anyway.

"This is Astrogirl," she said in what she hoped passed for a cheery voice.

The voice on the other end made no such effort as the gruff, imperious voice of Titan blared through the speaker in her visor.

"I presume that you can explain what exactly happened on the Darcy Panell show?" he asked, sounding like a disapproving father. He had that tendency to do that to her, ever since she came to this dimension so long ago and he took her under his wing. Sometimes it was something she longed to hear, just to make her think she still had family. Today, it just pissed her off.

"Yeah, that bitch performed a hell of a hatchet job on me," she spat, stopping her flight so she could argue without the wind whistling by her at high speeds. She was hovered over midtown, watching the people and cars scurry around down below.

"She's got a point. That was a set-up if I ever saw one," said a different voice, modulated like some sinister robot with a touch of demonic possession. It was Doctor Fear, she knew from the start, one of the few members of the Global Defenders that didn't rub her the wrong way and also happened to be a reformed villain. His gimmick was using something he called a Shadow Gun to shoot hallucinogenic gas that made people have terrible visions that made them cower in fear. It didn't help that he tended to dress something like a grim reaper by way of Sergio Leone, in a skull mask and cloak with bandoleers of bullets crisscrossed on his chest. Doctor Fear was an arch-villain of the team for a long time, before he decided to turn to the side of the angels to avoid lengthy jail time.

"That doesn't matter," Titan said, not wanting to hear any counter-argument. "The fact stands that you are a member of the Global Defenders and you must act accordingly. I don't care if she was saying you killed kittens for a living. You have to take it in stride and defuse it as best you can. Or just excuse yourself from the show."

"I did defend myself," she began. “Then I excused myself. Sort of.”

"No, you caused a scene that probably has millions of viewers thinking that Ms. Panell was in the right, regardless of anything you may have done to save their lives in the past."

"I know that. It's just that she presented me like I was some kind of monster, out to destroy the city. Did you see that video? It was like something you show during a hurricane fundraiser."

"Well, you do have the highest property damage ratio of any of us," chimed in the youthfully exuberant voice of Bluestreak, their resident speedster and prankster.

"You're not helping," Titan warned him and there were no further interruptions from that particular member.

"I'm trying to be better about that. It's a run of bad luck. For instance, how could I have known that the 100 Watt Warlock would release all the energy he had stolen from the power plant at once when I knocked him out?"

"By studying your enemy closely and finding out how their powers work, instead of just charging ahead and using as much physical violence as you possibly can on them until they can’t get up anymore."

"To be fair, that approach has worked for me on more than one occasion," the seasoned voice of Roughrider crackled over the communicator. "As a user of a wide assortment of energy weapons myself, it is rather hard to control collateral damage at times."

Roughrider was their resident scientist, a top of his class-type from some school that Astrogirl couldn't remember the name of. Maybe MIT? It didn’t matter. He had developed a suit of power armor to assist him in researching some dangerous energy emissions from experiments and found that it worked just as well in fighting crime. Despite his brains, he had a tendency to follow his ego and go in guns blazing quite often, saving the day but giving the more conservative members of the team a headache. He said it was the adrenaline rush. Bluestreak liked to call him Black Rambo behind his back because of it, though Roughrider had no confirmed kills and prided himself on that fact.

"I know that, Roughrider, but Astrogirl needs to learn these things if she's going to be a fully functioning member of the team. Astrogirl, you're not a kid anymore. You have to take more care in how you handle yourself."

Astrogirl just shook her head. She knew this was going to be a losing argument no matter how hard she tried, even if a few of her teammates agreed with her. She swallowed her pride and said the words that she knew Titan was just waiting to hear.

"I'm sorry, Titan. I will conduct myself better in the future."

"There. That wasn't so difficult, was it?"

Yeah, it was. It actually kind of sucked, she thought, straining not to say the words over the air.

"No. It wasn't. I'm sorry I made a scene on the show. Should I go back and issue a statement?" Astrogirl said, grimacing and hoping the answer wasn't what she thought it would be.

""That won't be necessary. We've already sent a press release to them apologizing for your behavior."

She was annoyed at the way he phrased it but relieved that her TV duties were done for the day.

"Gee, thanks."

"Just don't let it happen again. Titan out."

The communicator went silent in her ear. Astrogirl contemplated throwing it out into the stratosphere. Instead, she just punched at the air in frustration for bit, having herself a good old fashioned fit, and then continued on her patrol of the city.

"You must conduct yourself better. Don't destroy stuff," she said in a singsong, mocking tone. "Ugh. Like he's never accidentally blown up a school. Bluestreak told me that Titan punched a planet out of orbit because he was bored one time. This is so not worse than that."

Sighing, she flew on in silence, wishing she could just go back to their satellite headquarters and have a beer with Doctor Fear, which was her plan before things decided to go pear shaped. He always had a good outlook on this sort of thing, having been a public menace in his past life. Hell, once he held the entire country hostage by threatening to release his crazy gas on the populace via an army of blimps, of all things. Now he reads books to sick children in the hospital as part of his penance, though he had redesigned his mask to be a little friendlier and modern like a hockey mask, instead of a Satanic skeleton. It still creeped people out, just not as much. He also joined the Global Defenders. They thought it was good to have a reformed villain on their staff for public relations reasons. It made them seem a little less exclusive and more forgiving and merciful. Regardless, Doc had some good stories to tell about the times he rampaged through cities and the like and the few times he actually got the upper hand on the heroes. It made them seem a little more human and fallible.

The city was quiet--well, as quiet as The City That Never Sleeps could be with the normal hustle and bustle of people and cars, with the occasional piercing sound of a car alarm or people shouting at each other. Nothing major, as of yet, that required Astrogirl to go and intervene. There was an ambulance or two weaving through the streets, on their way to Columbia Presbyterian with some emergency room trauma. Heart attack or some such thing, the scanner displayed on the screen of her visor revealed. Nothing she could do anything about. She sighed and flew around the island again, wondering if she would have to head across the river to Newark or Jersey City to get some action. With the gang presence in those cities, there was always a foe in need of a good head smashing. At the very least she could take in a hockey game at The Rock.

Her train of thought was broken by the sound of explosions to the south of her. A smoke plume drifted slowly upward over the roofs of the buildings. She kicked on the speed and headed towards it as fast as she could without generating a sonic boom over the downtown area. She had learned the hard way that particular stunt was frowned upon. Unless you were fighting the Glass Warriors of Shadeen. Then it was a solid tactic.

Sirens wailed as the police patrol cars raced towards the scene. A shrill alarm, this one from the building itself, started sounding with a clanging shriek. Astrogirl arrived at the edifice and saw that it was a bank that was seemingly under assault. The assailants were already inside and tearing their way into the vault, from the sounds of secondary blasts emanating from inside the walls. Civilians streamed out of the front doors in a panicked frenzy.

Good, she thought as she surveyed the scene, they're not interested in hostages.

That made things easier. She flew over to a skylight that sat in the center of the roof and cautiously looked down into the room below. It was devoid of any people, as they had all fled. The only things she could see were some desks, overturned chairs and the teller’s counter. The door to the vault was swung open wide and hanging at an odd angle. There was scoring on the frame where something had literally blasted it off of its hinges. She had no idea how long the criminals had been inside there, nor could she wait for them to try and make off with the loot, so she jumped down through the skylight. The alarm was drowned out by the resulting crash, and Astrogirl landed in a three-point stance as a shower of broken glass bounced harmlessly off of her shields and onto the floor below where it shattered again into more debris.

"What was that?" she heard someone with a vaguely robotic voice say from inside the vault.

"I don't know," said another voice, this one haughtier and filled with anger. "Go check it out."

"Alright."

Around the corner of the vault, a large, yellow and red armored man stepped into view. He had a flame motif that covered his chest and helmet. Astrogirl recognized him from the computer files on the satellite. His name was Heatmiser, a regular foe of Roughrider, who wore power armor too and used flamethrowers to perpetrate his crimes. The man scanned the area and saw Astrogirl standing up from her crouch and his visor flashed red in alarm.

"We've got a problem," he called out as he raised his arms in front of them, fire starting to gather at the tips of the barrels fastened to his forearms.

"Capes?" came the query from the vault.

"Yes. Just one, so far."

"I'll be right there. Hold them off."

"Will do," Heatmiser said, and then the room was alive with his dancing flames as they belched forth from his throwers in swirling jets towards Astrogirl.

Quickly, she ducked out of the way and rolled behind a desk at the fire licked the spot where she was standing, making it erupt in a small pillar. She moved again as she heard the whoosh of the fire being projected again, this time throwing the desk she had been behind against the wall where it exploded in a cloud of laminate and flaming chunks of wood. Standing up, she loosed a volley of her own energy blasts, gathering it in her hand and then shooting it towards Heatmiser, who stepped out of the way in the nick of time as the impact caused a small geyser of tile to burst upward from the floor.

"Nice shot, but you'll have to do better than that. Wait, I recognize you," he said, smiling inside his helmet. "You're the new girl on the Global Defenders. Astrochick, right?"

"AstroGIRL," she roared, firing another bolt that he shielded himself from with a quick cross of his arms, generating a force field that dispersed the blast harmlessly.

"Whatever. You think you're ready for the big leagues? I fight Roughrider on a regular basis and win."


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Eric Mosher is the author of Lost at Comic Con and the Fright Night Frights series of horror novels. A New Jersey native and Virginia Tech graduate, he has a passion for comic books, Godzilla and all things horror. Currently, he puts his writing talent to use as the Vice President of Marketing for a model railroad company, as well working on novels.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
The Secret Life of Astrogirl was conceived as a comic book pitch that took on a life of its own and became a novel instead. I would still love to see it as a comic but it works as a book just as well.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
I've always been a fan of superheroes (see: Lost at Comic Con) and have been reading comics for about thirty years now so I'm fairly well-versed in it but never really took the step to write my own until now. It seems like a natural progression as I tend to write about the things that I love.
Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
A.
At my website, www.mosherpit.com

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