[Parts 1-9 of this story were originally posted on the message boards of Medusa Realm, Hall of Statuary, and Mannequin Lovers. They now have been brought together in combined pages as a series. The most recent previous parts 44 thru 51 are accessible via this link.
The story continues here with Part 52. Ed.]
Author’s Note: Once again, this is an ongoing story inspired by the work of Thorne Smith's "Night Life of the Gods"...
--Back from granite--
“Ohhh” Darlene’s gray granite figure regained her familiar blue and gold coloring. Her stony skin restored to warm flesh. Her stiffened costume softened to blue and yellow. “I can move…” she said dreamily, somewhat disappointed her stint as a statue had not lasted longer. She lowered her limbs, formerly frozen up in the air since she was lying prone on a medbed. Susan was the first thing Darlene saw as her eyes regained sight. She was watching over me, protectively, as any good team leader would. There was a lingering stiffness in Cosmic Girl’s muscles, a side effect from Medusa's petrification ray and the restorative anti-petrification effect, that Darlene welcomed as she sat up on the bed to look curiously at the still petrified woman next to her.
This mystery woman made quite an attractive statue. Darlene noticed long lean lines of the woman’s figure, hidden beneath the frozen folds of petrified fabric that clung to her upper figure like classical Greek sculpture techniques. She was solidly frozen, stiff and rigid, in her stone statue form, legs slightly bent and raised up in the air as she lay on her back. Her arms and hands appeared to be raised in protest. She was definitely taken by surprise by Medusa when she got the stoney treatment. But why was she here in the first place? Darlene pondered that question as she watched Artie methodically run the reverse-petrifying ray up and down, back and forth, sweeping across the statue’s form. The beam roamed around the woman’s figure; slowly, yet steadily, returning the statue to life.
“Uhnnn…” Julie was groggy as she slowly regained movement. Her body became soft and supple once again. As Artie shut off the beam, Julie snapped back to consciousness and sat up abruptly. “What happened to me? Where am I? Petra! Where’s Petra?” She looked frantically from side to side but did not see any sign of Petra anywhere in the high-tech facility.
“Who’s Petra?” Heatwave asked Julie. She was leaning over the bed, ready to administer aid to Julie upon de-petrification. It was quite disorienting for those unaccustomed to it.
“She’s my niece, she was turned to stone by that woman too!” Julie was starting to panic. “What happened to her? Where has she gone?”
“She must have been taken by Madame Medusa,” Sue deduced as she patted Cosmic Girl’s shoulder and approached Julie. “Probably turned to stone and taken, just like Shadow Lady was. Any sign of De-Shadow Lady’s tracer?” she asked Wanda, onscreen, at the med-monitor console. The viewscreen was tied directly into their situation room and the Crimson Sorceress’ beautiful face dominated the screen as she turned to face the med-room heroines.
Julie was aghast at how beautifully gorgeous all the heroines were in person. Their magazine picture spread certainly did not do them any justice. They all looked three times as lovely as any mere photograph.
“Negative,” Wanda shook her head. “If Medusa turned her to stone, and that’s a virtual certainty given her M.O., her homing beacon would have been petrified too, it’s useless as far as tracking her.”
“But she didn’t turn her to stone, I did I mean... you’ve got to get Petra back! Please, we never intended this to-“ Julie realized she had just opened a can of worms.
“What did you say? Never intended this to what? Get out of hand? What did you do?” Sue asked pointedly. Julie squirmed on her medbed as Cosmic Girl and Heatwave both came over to virtually surround her.
“Um, I…” Julie knew she had to fess up but the words were having a hard time getting out. Transparency Girl had a particular accusing squint to her eyes as she frowned at Julie’s evasiveness.
“Just what were you doing back there?” Sue continued the third degree. Julie was starting to perspire. Her forehead glowed with beads of sweat.
“I-I didn’t think… I-mean- I uh turned her to stone…” Julie finally admitted.
“You what?” Transparency Girl was taken aback from this confession. This woman didn’t look like any sort of mad villainess the team had fought before.
“YOU turned Dee to stone?” Heatwave interrupted, both shocked and interested in this turn of events. Darlene looked at Julie and shared a glance over at Heatwave with a raised eyebrow.
“And what was this is? These tapes, these pictures in your purse are of statues… are they people turned to statues?” Flamestar had entered the room a moment earlier when Julie confessed to her culpability. She had spent the past few minutes reviewing the evidence collected from the mystery woman to determine who she was. The contents of Julie’s purse were, to say the least, far from typical.
“You have no right to go through my things!” Julie started to object before realizing how hypocritical she appeared, having just admitted to violating Shadow Lady’s body by petrifying the superheroine.
“What kind of sick person are you anyway? Turning people to stone for kicks?” Flamestar was livid. Darlene and Tiffany visibly flinched at that line as the hot-tempered heroine got right up into Julie’s face.
“It’s not like that, I can expl-…” Julie tried to get away from the intimidating heroine. She swore she could see embers of fire reflected in Flamestar’s eyes.
“Damn you! You’re as bad as Madame Medusa!” Angelica was about to explode. Her long flowing red hair was beginning to smolder.
“Take it easy; she’s scared. She’s just made a bad choice, right?” Heatwave tried to deflect some blame off of Julie, partly to protect the strange newcomer from her sister’s fiery temper, and partly because Heatwave sensed a kindred spirit.
“And this ring; the scans from the medscanner show it contains incredible technology,” Flamestar had whirled around again with security scan images in her hand.
Julie flinched as she drew her hand to her bosom. “Its mine, I-I designed it to restore people who were turned to stone.” She was held down at her wrists by Cosmic Girl. She’s incredibly strong! “I-It just got a little out of control! We never intended to hurt aybody…” The ring! Julie looked to her hand and saw Transparency Girl wrestle it away from her. “You don’t understand, this ring… I can change her back!”
“You turned people to stone deliberately? For fun? You sick…” Flamestar was about to go at it with Julie for real and Darlene intervened to hold her back. Tiffany watched over Julie as Darlene took hold of Angie.
“That’s enough, this isn’t going to get us anywhere. Now we’ll deal with this item later.” Sue put the red ring on the computer console. “Where did Madame Medusa take Shadow Lady?” Susan demanded the information as if Julie had no choice or say in the matter.
“I don’t know! Petra and I were just there waiting for one of you to come out. We weren’t in league with her. It didn’t turn her clothing to stone, you could still find… I…” Julie was starting to break down from the interrogation, she could feel tears welling up at this stupid mistake. What had she gotten Petra and herself into?
“You were trying to turn one of us to stone too, weren't you? Let me get my hands on her…” Flamestar’s fists were aflame and Tiffany had never seen her sister so upset at anything. Not even one of her own heroic screw-ups.
“Cool it Flamestar!” Sue ordered, and Angie backed off. “If you two weren’t in league with Medusa then we’ve still got a chance to trace Shadow Lady’s homing beacon. If what you say is true and we can still track…” she turned to the image of Wanda, still on the viewscreen.
“Sorry Su-er Transparency Girl, Wanda spoke up from the control room. I just tried toget a fix on her location but even so the signal was lost completely a minute ago before I could finalize triangulation. We’ve lost it…” she said softly.
“Damn, now there’s no way of tracking her!” Sue turned her attention laser-like to the frightened Julie. “But we do have you.”
...Things couldn't get any worse, or...?