The Redressers: Part 3

“So what’s the mission?” Mia asked.

Dwayne brightened up. “This is gonna be fun, and a good one for breaking in a new member. Who’s ready to revisit those old baddies Master R.A. and the Dorm Room Dojo?

The team groaned.

“Oh, come on!” Dwayne said. “You loved fighting them last year!”

“Last year we were still recovering from dimensional vertigo after fighting Baron Universe,” Frankenstein said. “We were just glad to win a fight after two months of losses.”

“What if I told you they did something really diabolical?” Dwayne tempted.

“Like what,” Azrella asked, “shut down the campus firewall?”

“Nooooo.” Dwayne was getting coy. “Like ripping apart the fabric of reality!”

The team went silent for a moment, then erupted in enthusiasm.

“Yes!”

“Awesome!”

“Yeah, let’s do it!”

Mia was more grounded. “Um, excuse me. What exactly does ‘rip apart the fabric of reality’ mean?”

“Oh.” Dwayne took a beat. “Well, uh, the Dorm Room Dojo have obviously gotten their hands on some kind of inter-dimensional weapon that can, ah, destabilize the foundation of the, um…the…” He snapped his fingers. “Little help?”

Frankenstein chimed in. “Multiverse?”

Dorizan offered a guess, too. “Quark field?”

“Yes!” Dwayne turned back to face Mia. “Quark field. Yep. Really dangerous stuff. Everything’s at risk. Gotta stop ’em.”

Mia furrowed her brow. “Okay. If you’re sure.”

“Excellent,” Dwayne said. “Okay, Redressers, let’s stick it to evil!”

The Redress Jet roared over the city. As it lowered to the ground in a park near Master R.A.’s lair, Azrella activated the cloaking device, turning the jet invisible. The Redressers exited the jet and raced to meet the naughty scamps of the Dorm Room Dojo.

Twenty seconds later, Hunter was running through the park to catch the frisbee his friend Chase threw. Hunter was stunned, not only by the shock of there being a huge solid object where he couldn’t see anything, but also from the concussion he received by running at full speed into the Redress Jet’s wing.

“We’re almost there,” Dwayne said. “Their hideout is in the backroom of this business.”

Mia looked up at the sign. “So the Dorm Room Dojo’s secret lair is in the back of Master Chu’s Karate School? Seems kind of obvious.”

“Yes. Only a devious criminal genius like Master R.A. could use such deft reverse psychology. By making it obvious, it really puts law enforcement off their trail.”

“Except for us.”

“Right. Right, except for us. Yes.” Dwayne cleared his throat and firmly, if loudly, cautioned his team. “We’ll go in through the employee entrance to catch them off guard. Hopefully, they won’t see us coming.”

The front door to the karate school flew open and fifteen goons wearing backpacks and matching gi-themed uniforms ran out and into formation. Their leader, Master R.A., strolled confidentally between them to face off with Dwayne. He wore a polo shirt, khaki shorts, sandals, and a lanyard with a nametag on it.

“Ah, we meet again, Redeemers,” Master R.A. said.

“Redressers,” Dwayne corrected in a stage whisper.

“Right. Redressers. It appears you’ve come to fight, so I won’t invite you to the 3rd floor lounge Friday night. We’re watching ‘Anchorman’ and having some snacks, followed by a little ice-breaking game I like to call Rip Apart the Fabric of Reality!”

The Redressers gasped, except for Mia. “Why are you surprised?” she asked. “We already knew about the quark field.”

“Quark field?” Master R.A. asked.

“Yeah,” Azrella said. “You know, how your device will disrupt the quark field?”

“Oh, right,” Master R.A. said. “Sorry. We, uh, we pronounce it ‘kwerk’, so I got a little confused there.”

Dwayne leaned nearer to Master R.A. “Just skip to the attack.”

“Right,” Master R.A. whispered. He raised an arm and shouted, “Dorm Room Dojo, attack!”

The parking lot exploded with battle cries, grunts, and impressive spin kicks. Mia crouched behind a car and watched the fight. The punches, blocks, kicks, and dodges were so expertly timed that it seemed like no one actually got hit. She saw one of the goons approach Dorizan from behind and started to call out a warning, but the goon stopped and waited his turn until Dorizan was finished with the current fight.

Mia scanned the scene. They all seemed to be waiting for the right moment, like dance steps. And why weren’t Azrella and Dorizan using their powers?

“Hey, Azrella! Can’t you turn them into gerbils or something?”

“Not until tomorrow! I already used today’s power to get revenge on a jerk from middle school!”

Well, that makes some sense, Mia thought.

“Dorizan! Why don’t you zap them?”

Dorizan looked panicked. “The, ah, sun! There’s some interference from the sun that’s affecting my powers!”

“Must be a solar flare, right?” called Frankenstein.

“Yes! A solar flare!” Dorizan puntuated the sentence with a right cross that the goon swept aside.

Mia looked over at Sun Wukong. He was scratching his butt and watching the fight.

Mia sighed. She stood up and slowly walked into the melee. “You can stop now. Stop.”

They kept fighting.

“Stop!”

Everyone stood still. After a second or two they dropped their arms.

“Why are you doing this?”

“Because they world is in peril!” Azrella said.

“No. It’s not. You’re faking this. Do you even have powers?

“Yes, of course,” Dorizan said. Dwayne nudged him. “No. No, we don’t.”

Mia stared at each Redresser one by one. “What’s the big plan? This isn’t fun, so why are you doing it? Are you trying to join a real team? Go around the comic convention circuit? What?”

Dwayne stepped forward. “We need the publicity. For our programs.”

“Programs?”

Master R.A. tapped Dwayne on the elbow. “Hey, uh, bad timing and all, yeah, but if we’re done, can we get the check?”

Dwayne pulled a folded check out of his pocket and handed it to Master R.A. “I just made it out to the school. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, that’s perfect. Thanks. Come on, folks!”

The Dorm Room Dojo went back inside.

“Look, we’re not heroes,” Dwayne said. “At least, not the kind that saves lives with our fists. We save lives with our programs and books and presentations.”

“Do you run a rehab or something?”

Dwayne smiled. “We’re motivational speakers. I specialize in finding meaning in the everyday. Azrella is Kathryn, and her TED talk on commonalities across religions was featured on NPR last year.”

Kathryn waved. “Hi. I don’t usually dress like this, obviously.”

“Dorizan over there, his name is Carl. He started out as a boardwalk performer in San Francisco.”

Carl chuckled. “You can say it. I was in a freak show. We’re trying to take back the word ‘freak’ to be empowered. Heh, empowered? Powers? That’s good. Anywho, I really was born without any genitals. I have a catheter. It’s everyone’s first question. Pulling my pants down made the show really awkward, so I had my whole body tattooed blue to be exotic instead of dirty and started acting like an alien. I made pretty good money and turned it into a series of presentations on humanity and what we have in common.”

Mia looked at Sun Wukong. “What about him?”

“He is a monkey and he is a she. She’s a regular old monkey. But she’s potty trained!”

Mia turned to Frankenstein. “And who are you?”

“I’m actually Frankenstein. The whole thing is true. But no one wants to work with a 230-year-old scientist in a pile of corpses Voltron-ed together, so this is the best gig I’ve got. But Dwayne loves my story. He thinks he can get me on ‘Ellen’!”

Mia let the information sink in. “Huh. Well, I’m going to go home now because this is stupid and dishonest. Should I catch a cab or is one of you going to fly me back in– Hey. How do you have a jet with a cloaking device?”

Frankenstein puffed out his chest. “I made it!” Mia stared at him in awe. “Well, when you have 200 years to yourself and a scientific mind, you invent some things. It’s clean energy, too! Solar to start up and tiny wind turbines that help charge it once it gets going.”

“That’s impressive! But I’m still quitting.”

“Right. Makes sense,” Dwayne said. “I’m sorry to see you go. I was hoping your engineering skills would help us make our fake powers look more realistic.”

“Uh huh. And the hacked information you used to impress me?”

“I know a guy. Hundred bucks.”

“I hate all of you. Frankenstein, I guess you’re okay. The rest of you can go to hell. I’m going home.”

Mia called a cab and went into a gas station shop to get a coffee while she waited. She was adding sugar when two men in ski masks ran in and pointed guns at the clerk. Mia crouched down behind the coffee bar.

“Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod,” she whispered. She peeked over the counter. The clerk had the register open and was fishing out ones. “Think, Mia, think!”

Then she realized she was still wearing her steampunk cosplay. If they would be surprised enough by the sight of it, maybe she could do something. She looked around and grabbed some snacks.

A few seconds later, Mia strode past the hot dogs and announced herself. “Drop the weapons, boys. This suit is charged up and ready to strike.”

One robber walked up to her, gun aimed at her chest. “What’s it charged with, Boba Fart, fan fiction?”

“Nope.” In an instant she jammed the jelly donut in her hand onto the barrel of the gun. “Raspberry!”

“What the?” He looked at the barrel and pointed it back at Mia.

She took a couple of steps back. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

He pulled the trigger. The donut exploded, sending the bullet to the floor and jelly in all directions. Enough force went backwards to send a little casing shrapnel into the robber’s face. He screamed and grabbed his cheek.

The second robber started towards Mia, but she’d already thrown the banana peels she’d soaked with coffee onto the floor. He stepped on one and crashed to the ground. She grabbed both of the guns and handed them to the clerk.

“Here, you have these. I hate that stuff.” He took them and aimed them at the robbers while he called the police.

“Hey,” he said. “Thanks for not smashing anything or blowing stuff up like most superheroes. I only had like 80 bucks. One window would’ve cost more than that. How did you know that would work?”

Mia smiled. “I’m an engineer. I mathed it.”

Mia walked out as her taxi was pulling into a parking spot. The Redressers witnessed her heroism and stood with their mouths agape.

“That was incredible,” Carl said.

“Yeah,” added Kathryn. “Not one serious injury and no property damage.”

“Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you’re not some macho manboy or an antihero shooting everything. Take care, jerks.”

“Wait!” cried Dwayne. “What if you took the lead? What if you taught us to save people like you just did?”

Mia thought for a second. “Man, I don’t know. I’m more about numbers than teaching.”

“You can have a commission on all of our engagements. And what else do you have going on? Cosplay and coffee or the real thing?”

Mia looked at the cab and back at them. “Ah, crap. Fine. But I’m quitting the second I go back to hating you guys!”

“Yes! And now, the credits with our rap song.”

“Oh no!” Mia said. “No one’s hearing that ever again.”

“Awwwwww,” they all whined like a bunch of chumps.

The Redressers: Part 2

Mia’s eyes widened as she stared at her new teammates.

“Mia Ortiz,” Dwayne announced, “welcome to the Redressers!”

Mia responded as anyone would in her situation. “Is that Frankenstein?”

The being composed of slightly decomposed body parts stood up. “That’s correct.”

“Oh, sorry. Should I have said Frankenstein’s monster? Well, being called a monster can’t be nice.”

“You were correct the first time. I am Victor Frankenstein. My orginal body died in the Arctic and my creature killed himself soon afterwards, but I left instructions with my assistant for placing my brain into another body assembled through, ah, para-ethical methods. One thunderstorm later, I was off the table and continuing my biological research.”

“Wow!” Mia exclaimed. “That’s amazing! So are you all literary characters or are some of you non-fiction?”

A woman stood up and raised her sceptor. She wore a robe that covered her like a cloak made of mystery but somehow exposed 90% of her breasts. “I am Azrella, sorceress of the dark arts. My soul is tied to a demon who grants me limitless power, but I can only use it once a day. I have worked with this team for…I feel like you’re staring at my chest.”

“Oh! I’m sorry. It’s just weird that everything else is covered except, uh, your–”

“I know. It’s ridiculous. But the demon I draw my power from is…let’s say he’s from another time.”

“Oh, right. Biblical times.”

“No, like 1991. It could be worse. He could have dressed me in just a few straps.”

“Tell me about it! Isn’t it nuts that full nudity in today’s comics comes across as less pervy and gross than early 90s women who are at least covered enough for a PG-13 movie?”

“It’s all in the depiction. The gatekeepers who kept female writers and artists out of comics for so long are finally going away so now we’re seeing women depict female characters as fully developed people instead of boobs in spandex.”

“Oh, I know! It’s so refreshing to feel like I can see myself in a comic!”

“Hopefully, the wave of inclusion will soon fulfill its promise and people of all types will feel welcome and represented in all kinds of media. Even comedy nerd blogs soon won’t be a bunch of straight cis white men.”

Hmm.

Dwayne interjected, “While I appreciate that we’re all learning today, I feel like we should move on.”

Mia and Azrella rolled their eyes at each other.

“Who’d like to go next?”

A blue, hairless person with no pupils, no clothes, and apparently no gender stood up. “I shall volunteer. I am Dorizan, this sector’s iteration of the galactic consciousness known as Dorizan. I protect this solar system’s lifeforms from cosmic threats with my invulnerability, control over my body’s density, and sweet finger lasers. Pew, pew.”

“Wow, that’s incredible! Do we get a lot of cosmic threats?”

“I suppose so, relatively speaking. Especially considering the primitive nature of life on this planet. Few of you seem to understand the infinite vastness of reality and your insignificance within it. It’s enough to make one reconsider protecting lives that are wasted so frivolously.”

“You must be great at parties.”

“Of all activities, parties are one of the least practical.”

“You know, for some big deal space god, you’re not quick on sarcasm.”

“Sarcasm is a hindrance to communication and should be avoided.”

Dwayne stepped in. “He’s like this a lot. Traversing the galaxy kinda wrecks your perspective.”

“And the, uh, bathing suit area?”

“The Dorizan don’t have sexes. They’re kinda like if you stored the universe’s power into some mannequins. No organs, no names. They barely have individuality.”

Dorizan began spasming and making a strange breathy grunt.

“Are you okay?” Mia asked.

“I’m fine. My counterpart in sector 9561 is being tickled.”

The only one left was a monkey in a little robe.

“And I suppose this is the team mascot?”

The monkey screeched.

“Sun Wukong isn’t our mascot,” Dwayne said. “He is the most eminent member of our team. He is the ancient Chinese monkey king, who traveled west to retrieve Buddhist sutras with a famous monk.”

Sun Wukong screeched again.

“Yes, yes, I’m getting to that. He’s immensely strong and can go halfway around the world in a single somersault. He can clone himself with a single hair, command the elements, and protect people against demons.”

Sun Wukong made a sly, offhand hoot.

“He wouldn’t interfere with Azrella’s demon, naturally.”

“Naturally,” Mia replied. “So with a monkey god, a cosmic defender, a sorceress who can do anything, and the brains and brawn of Frankenstein, what do you need with an engineer? Can’t you just smash and zap just about any threat you come across?”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

“Yep.”

Son Wukong grunted.

“Don’t listen to them,” Dwayne said. “You fill a very important role. Besides being presumably able to make any necessary repairs to the Redress Jet, as the token mortal, you can remind us that human life is frail and needs protecting.”

“Oh, goodie. That’ll look great on my resume.”

“You can also get kidnapped by villains if we’re ever low on missions.”

“Is it too late to quit?”

“Yes.”

“Fine. Well, I guess if I’m gonna work with a team of heroes, I should know any backstory. Do you guys have any personal baggage?

“I used to date him.”

“I used to date them.”

“I died four times. No, five!”

“I was evil for a few weeks.”

“Oh, right, I was evil once, too, but I was being controlled by a wicked psychic, so it doesn’t count.”

“I come from an alternate universe where we don’t have nachos. It doesn’t come up much, but when we had a team fun day at a baseball game, boy, did I make a scene! Ha ha.”

Sun Wukong screeched for about 20 seconds while gesturing at the others one at a time.

Dwayne looked down in shame. “Yes, that was a dark period.” He took a deep breath. “But we’ve moved on from that and I think we’re stronger for it.”

Sun Wukong chirped.

“Right. Except for Mike.”

“Who’s Mike?” Mia asked.

“A former teammate we lost.”

Frankenstein chimed in, “He was our last engineer.”

“Shhhh!”

Mia looked in vain for a jetpack or a parachute or some other means of getting the hell out of the plane immediately. Not seeing anything, she resigned herself to her fate and asked the next logical, if regrettable, question.

“Well, Dwayne, what’s the mission?”

“I’ll be happy to tell you next episode. But now it’s time for the credits.”

[a crappy rap beat starts]

Awwwww
Vick Frankenstein, he was dope in the lab.
Died in the Arctic, but his body was nabbed.
Got a new body made of dead dudes’ parts,
Now he’s a Redresser and the doc of dark arts!

Dorizan and Azrella: a powerful pair!
One is from space and don’t have any hair.
The other’s got a demon that’ll do what she wants.
Together they kick butt on all of their jaunts.

Next up is Sun Wukong, the monkey king.
He can fight. He can clone. He can do anything!
Mia is the STEM queen, the top engineer.
She’s integral to the team, though she just got here!

They’re the Redressers and they’re saving the world,
From all kinds of baddies, whether urban or rural.
So come back every week if you like this crap.
This is The Redressers, and that’s a wrap!