by Kaol

"So, they're all dead then?"


"All five?"

"Yes, I said."

The woman sighed. "Our champions are gone. Then I suppose all is lost?"

"Not necessarily," the man said after a brief hesitation.

"Not necessarily?"

"No. We could seek...elsewhere...for help."

"But is that fair? Do we have the right?"

"Right schmight. We have the magic."

"But do the ends justify the means?" she asked.

"Don't get high and mighty with me, your majesty. It's our heinies on the line if we don't get help soon."

"You make a convincing argument." A pause. "Who will you call?"

"Well, I believe a random sending will be as good as any. If I spend too long on the spell we will certainly be detected and located."

"Then go for it."

"Go for it, indeed."

Meanwhile, across the universe, Power Girl flinched as the trunk of the fir tree impacted across her torso, knocking her off her feet and flinging her through the air. Several successive grunts of pain came from between her clenched teeth as she flew backwards and crashed through several more trees before spending her momentum and collapsing at the base of another. Shaking her throbbing head, she immediately leaped to her feet and shot herself forward like a missile from a cannon.

"That's right, baby," her assailant whispered to himself, tracking her bulletlike approach, red eyes peering out from the black skin surrounding them in a mask. Chalk white fingers poked through black gloves and tightened their grip on rough tree bark. "Let's go for a home run this time."

Power Girl, fists forward, rocketed directly at Lobo and his treetrunk club. Whenever this Czarnian visited Earth, it meant trouble, frequently involving massive slaughter of innocent bystanders. It had been just her bad luck to spot him as she was flying over this New Hampshire forest. She hadn't bothered to stop and ask questions, as with Lobo often as not you would be dead before he bothered to reply. Battle had been immediately joined, and so far, she was not faring too well. Once, before her powers had been weakened, she might have been able to take him. Now, she wasn't so sure. She'd already used her JLE signal device to call for help, and only hoped she could keep him occupied until some of the bigger guns arrived. Although, when she stopped to think about it, there weren't many bigger guns than herself.

Immediately before reaching Lobo, she noted his muscles flexing in preparation of beginning his swing, and she abruptly changed course, diving low so that the swinging tree whistled through the air over her, ruffling her blonde hair with the breeze of its passage.

"Frag it!" Lobo snapped, as his club splintered against another tree. "A trick pitch." A light tapping on his shoulder caused Lobo to peek behind him. His red eyes widened.

"Strike one," Power Girl announced and drove her fist into Lobo's face with everything she had. A thin smile of satisfaction crossed her lips as he went flying through the air, cutting his own swath through the forest.

Lobo came to rest imbedded in a now dying Douglas Fir. His fingers gingerly felt his bearded jaw. "That babe ain't too bad," he commented appreciatively, and an evil grin twisted his features. "It'll be a real pleasure rippin' her spine outta her throat." Pushing himself out of the tree, he brushed off his dark jacket and stomped forward, his dark hair blowing wildly about his head. "Well, toots, I think it's time you kiss your cute little ass goodbye, as I'm about to tear it off and feed it to the birdies."

Power Girl searched the skies, as if trying to locate the birdies Lobo had mentioned, but in actuality looking anxiously for reinforcements. Lobo looked mad, and while she was not quick to fear, she also knew that Lobo wasn't bluffing. Lobo did not know how to bluff. His sharp teeth dripped saliva, and she wondered fleetingly if he had had his shots.

She leaped up into the air in an attempt to gain the high ground, for as strong as he was, Lobo could not fly unassisted. Her timing was off, however, and she felt a vise firm hand latch none too gently about her right ankle. "Going somewhere?" a voice growled below, and Power Girl felt herself yanked back and downwards and slammed hard enough into the ground that she had to look upwards to see the surface. Lobo was straddling her body, looking down over her with a triumphant leer, one fist punching solidly into the other. Swallowing nervously, Power Girl tried to extract herself from the ground, when a bright golden beam punched through the trees and slammed into Lobo and her, blinding her. It was accompanied by a strange tingling feeling, and then the universe exploded in a rainbow of colors.

On another planet, much like the one up until recently occupied by Power Girl and Lobo, two women found themselves in a bit of a pickle as well. The first of these young ladies was an attractive woman dressed all in a combination of red and white; white gloves reaching to the elbow, white boots starting just below the knee, and low cut red tights with a patch of white on her stomach. A red mask covered the top of her face, and peaked into twin spires over her forehead, almost like a caricature of cat's ears. It seemed fitting, given her almost feline facial features. Her long, auburn hair flowed down past her shoulders, and were it not for the nearly perpetual feral scowl she wore, she would have likely been called beautiful. Instead, she was called She-Cat, and she was a member of the all female superheroine team known as FemForce.

Lying beside her was the leader of this group. Her outfit consisted of a red, white, and blue theme, with blue boots and gloves, and a red cape flowing down her back. The main outfit was a racy design, the front cut open in a V which dove down to her hips where a tiny skirt flared out. Blonde hair bobbed at her shoulders, and her eyes peered nervously from behind her mask. Ms. Victory turned her head and looked over at She-Cat. "Any ideas?"

"Yeah, fearless leader, I suggest we find a way out of here before we're meat," She-Cat snarled, looking above her.

Ms. Victory followed her gaze upwards to the ceiling, which had been jammed full of glistening spikes. It was a sight that would make even those with little imagination squirm, and the fact that this ceiling was slowly descending towards She-Cat and Ms. Victory had the pair squirming most vigorously. Or at least as much as their steel bonds would allow. Ms. Victory pulled at the manacles binding her to the floor, but even with her superior strength she was unable to pull free. Iron Jaw knew their limitations and had planned accordingly when setting this trap. "Maybe Nightveil will find us in time?" she said without much hope.

"Yeah, or maybe my fairy godmother will appear with her magic wand and make us disappear," She-Cat snapped, red lips curled back over sharp teeth. She jerked at her own manacles. "I can't break free of these damn things!"

Sweat beaded beneath her mask as Ms. Victory eyed the points above nervously. They were less than two feet above her now, and though she was quite strong and her skin was tougher than most, she wouldn't bet that her flesh could turn back those steel tips. It suddenly came over her that they were not going to be rescued this time. This set off another vicious struggle with the manacles, but to no avail.

"Do something!" She-Cat yelled abruptly. "I may have nine lives, but you are really pushing it, Ms. V!"

Ms. Victory's eyes were wide as she watched the points edging towards her chest. Feeling the sharp points dimpling the tender flesh, she opened her mouth for one final scream, when a sudden golden glow filled the room. Nightveil! Ms. Victory thought, feeling an urgent sense of relief before having a sensation as if her body had turned into taffy and was being stretched through a black hole.

The glow faded, and she shook her head slowly, trying to decide what had happened. On her hands and knees she crawled towards the stream, her light brown hair forming a cape of sorts reaching down to her hips. Standing shakily, she beheld her image in the water. Reflected back to her was an attractive woman new to her twenties. She had an athletic form, showing a woman clearly used to physical activity. At the moment she was dressed in spandex of tan and brown, with gloves and boots of the same color. A dark 'Q' was cut out of the material across her chest, revealing not unsubstantial cleavage, and the outfit narrowed at the crotch like a swimsuit, which was what this suit did double as at times, given her unique abilities. Reassured that she had apparently survived this recent experience in one piece, she sat next to the shore and tried to decide her next move. She was still relatively new at this superhero business, having only recently acquired her powers after that freak incident in a radioactive swamp. She had nearly died, but instead had emerged with new powers to which she was still adjusting.

Surveying her surroundings, she noted that she was apparently in some type of jungle. She had materialized in a small clearing before a gently flowing stream, and all around her were trees reaching up into the sky, while smaller bushes hugged their bases. Whether she was still on her own planet or not, she couldn't say. A slight feeling of panic tightened her chest. What if she was someplace else? How would she ever get home? And why was she here in the first place? So many questions, and she had no idea where to begin looking for the answers.

A thundering roar came from the jungle behind her, and she jumped back up abruptly, staring fearfully into the kaleidoscope of green. What the heck was that? At least one question had been abruptly answered. She knew she was not on her own planet any longer, as nothing sounded like that where she hailed from. Swallowing with difficulty, she listened and heard the approach of something through the brush. Taking a few steps forward, she bent down and touched the ground in the clearing where she had landed, and then backed off, moving to hide behind a fallen log near the stream.

Ms. Victory and She-Cat pushed their way through the jungle, trying to figure out what had pulled them from their imminent demise. Ms. Victory had been sure it had been Nightveil at the time, as it was the sorcerous type of rescue their companion was notorious for. Yet when the sorceress had failed to materialize after planting them in this jungle, Ms. Victory began to have her doubts. She was grateful at being saved, but was worried by the conspicuous absence of their benefactor.

"So where the hell are we anyway?" asked She-Cat, viciously slashing away at a vine with her claws. "This looks more like Tara's scene than mine. And where the hell are we heading?"

Ms. Victory lifted her cape and wiped the sweat off her forehead before turning back towards her companion. "Look, I don't know where we are anymore than you do. And I think you should spend more energy being thankful you aren't a kitty pincushion right now rather than just bitching non-stop."

She-Cat leaped forward and pressed her face up to Ms. Victory's, their noses almost touching. "You were the one being turned into the pincushion, you Russ Meyer refugee. I still had room to spare. Personally, I'm tired of following a leader who can't lead. So far you lead us into trouble and that's about it," She-Cat snapped, her green eyes blazing fiercely.

Ms. Victory planted her hands on She-Cat's shoulders and pushed her angrily away. She had tried to be patient, but she was fed up with her teammate's attitude. At times she was nearly as annoying as Rad. This heat wasn't helping her own temper any either. "If you're sick of following my lead, if you think you can do better refugee from a litter box, you go right on ahead. I'll just listen for your cries of help so I can be sure to rescue you. If I'm in the mood."

"Fat chance," She-Cat hissed. "And when you cry for help, don't hold your breath waiting for me to come save your candy ass. I'm out of here." She-Cat turned and stormed off through the underbrush, savagely ripping and shredding the foliage in her way.

Ms. Victory crossed her arms beneath her chest and stuck her jaw out as she watched She-Cat move on. God, but that woman can be annoying! she thought to herself. Yet as her red-garbed companion was swallowed by the trees, Ms. Victory realized that she could not allow She-Cat to go off by herself, as much as it might serve her headstrong friend right. Ms. Victory was the leader of the group, and it was her duty to keep a cool head even when no one else would. Besides, in a situation like this it was even more imperative that they stay together. "She-Cat!" she bellowed, and dropped into silence as she heard a tremendous roar echo through the jungle. Her blue eyes glanced about nervously, trying to identify the direction from which it had come. That had not been a good sound. Whatever had made it had to be huge. "She-Cat!" she yelled again, and raced forward in the direction She-Cat had gone.

Ms. Victory had not run far when she heard a startled cry, and then vicious swearing ahead. Instantly recognizing the voice and epithets as originating from She-Cat, she doubled over, racing faster forward. She could make out a break in the trees ahead, and veered towards it.

As she burst out of the jungle, she beheld a sight that didn't make sense at first. She-Cat was up to her waist in the jungle ground, and was savagely thrashing at it, attacking the earth as if it were some kind of enemy, madly throwing gobs of sand about. Ms. Victory tried to put on the brakes, but had been moving too fast and slid into the surprisingly semi-solid earth as if sliding into home plate. She felt the gritty sand slide up her legs as they slipped in almost up to her skirt. Oh crap! she thought instantly. She-Cat had been caught in quicksand, and now I'm trapped as well. She felt the moist sand soaking through her shorts and grimaced. Self-consciously, she looked over to She-Cat, who was now breast deep in the mire. She-Cat glowered back at her, hostility etched deep in her features. "Nice rescue, fearless leader," the quicksand spattered woman barked, and punched the ground once more, sending up a splash of sand and causing the quicksand to quiver about both their bodies.

"Quit thrashing around like that," Ms. Victory ordered curtly, feeling her body slowly settling down into the greedy earth. She had come in at an angle, so she was descending like a torpedoed ship, her hips already gone and her waist disappearing. "If you keep that up we'll both be sucked under in a minute, and then you'd better be very good at holding your breath."

"Suggestions then, know-it-all leader?"

"Stop struggling and give me a minute to think."

"That may be all the time I have left, so put a rush on it," She-Cat snapped, watching the sand's creeping advance.

Ms. Victory searched the clearing about them for something to grab onto in order to pull them out, but, inconveniently, they'd left all the vines back in the jungle. She briefly wondered if she could use her cape to hook onto something, but decided the effort of pulling it off could easily bury her. Her chest now rested heavily on the seemingly firm surface of the sand. She glanced nervously over at She-Cat, who now looked as if she had been decapitated, chin resting on the sand, hair flowing on the surface about her. Ms. Victory couldn't believe they were about to die for the second time in an hour. That had to be some kind of record, even for them. At that moment, as if in response to her unvoiced prayers, her eyes caught a movement over by the stream. Directing her attention there, she saw a figure ducking behind a fallen log. "Hey! Over here!" Ms. Victory called desperately. "We need help over here."

A long haired woman stepped up from behind the log, and from her outfit Ms. Victory quickly determined she was either on her way to a costume party or was a superheroine or villain. She hoped it was not the latter. "Please, can you help us out of here?"

"Quickly!" added She-Cat.

The girl walked over to them and touched the ground about five feet from She-Cat. Ms. Victory instantaneously felt the ground solidify about her, and saw that both she and She-Cat had halted their descent. They remained trapped in the ground, but at least they were no longer sinking. "Thank you," Ms. Victory said sincerely, and eyed their rescuer appraisingly. "How did you do that?"

The girl sat down out of reach of both of them and eyed them skeptically in turn. "Who are you?" she asked at last.

"Ms. Victory. And that's She-Cat. Who are you?"

"In this outfit I go by the name of Quicksand Girl."

"Stupid name," muttered She-Cat.

Quicksand Girl's lips pursed in a small pout. "Is not." She shook her head then as if dismissing She-Cat's comment. "Besides, it fits what I do." She eyed She-Cat disdainfully. "She-Cat's a stupider name, anyway," she added under her breath.

"And what do you do?" asked Ms. Victory.

"Well, I can change the consistency of the land. I can touch ground and make it solid or semi-solid."

"Oh, how marvelous," commented She-Cat. "You must be a gas at parties."

"Listen you," said Quicksand Girl, walking over to stand above She-Cat and wagging a finger at her. "I don't quite like your attitude."

"Join the club," Ms. Victory commented out of the side of her mouth.

"You know I could just touch this ground again and that would be it for you," Quicksand Girl continued. "So I'd consider being a little more polite."

"I apologize for her," Ms. Victory continued. "She's a bit testy today, as we've had a rather bad day. We got dropped in this place by some kind of golden beam and it has sort of messed up our equilibrium. Stepping into quicksand didn't help matters any either," she added pointedly.

Quicksand Girl ignored the last comment and looked over at Ms. Victory with wide eyes. "You too? I had the very same thing happen to me. I mean, not the bit about the quicksand, but that golden beam thing." A frown crossed her features then. "Darn it. I was hoping you were from this place and would know what the heck was going on."

"Well, at least we all know we weren't the only ones brought here, and maybe if you get us out of here we can all figure this out together," Ms. Victory added hopefully, eyeing the presently motionless quicksand encasing her half-submerged chest, hoping their captor would get the point.

Quicksand Girl considered this. "Well, I guess I have to trust somebody on this planet." She looked over at She-Cat. "I suppose I should free you first, though I still don't like your attitude." Walking over to She-Cat, she touched the ground and it became quicksand again.

She-Cat began thrashing about and reached up and grabbed hold of Quicksand Girl's ankle. "How come you don't sink?" she gasped.

"I don't sink unless I want to," Quicksand Girl replied in a superior tone. Reaching down and taking She-Cat's hand, she walked to the side, pulling her free. "There. One up."

"And one still down," called Ms. Victory, now buried nearly to her shoulders. "And getting more so by the second. Don't forget me now, okay?"

"Coming," replied Quicksand Girl, and with a smile went to pull Ms. Victory free.

Falling. I'm falling, thought Power Girl, opening her eyes to see the blue sky above her. She twisted about in mid-air and had only a moment before she splashed down into the water. It was chilly, and she immediately pushed herself to the surface, the cold water snapping her to alertness. Where the hell was she? There was no sign of land anywhere about her. A moment ago she had been fighting Lobo. Now she was bobbing up and down in the middle of the ocean somewhere. She sputtered as a small wave slapped her in the face. What had happened?

Without warning, Power Girl felt herself jerked beneath the surface of the water. Eyes wide, she stared into the leering face of Lobo, his hair floating lazily about his head. "Remember me?" he gurgled, before driving a fist up into her solar plexus.

Even slowed down by the water, it was a mighty blow and Power Girl felt the air rush out of her as she was tossed into the sky like a rag doll. Yet this time she stopped herself and remained flying 100 yards from the green surface of the water. Lobo couldn't fly, so he wouldn't be able to reach her up here.

Lobo's head broke the surface of the water and he shook a dripping fist at her. "Get your fraggin' ass back down here and fight like a man, ya lousy broad. I promise I'll kill ya quick and relatively painless if ya get down here now!"

"Shut up for a minute, Lobo, or are you as stupid as you are ugly? Aren't you at least a little curious as to why we are suddenly in the middle of the ocean when we were fighting in a forest a minute ago?"

Lobo stared about himself stupidly for a moment and nodded. "Now that you mention it, I was wondering about that, but I figured I could work out that problem after I'd finished dismembering ya."

Power Girl shook her head in disgust. "Look, you unevolved biped, I'd suggest we temporarily postpone our quarrel until we figure out where on Earth we are, or if we are even on Earth."

Lobo sniffed the air carefully and shook his head. "This ain't Earth, cupcake, I can tell you that right away." He looked around curiously, and then back up at Power Girl. "Tell you what, sweetcheeks, being as I'm stuck in the middle of the ocean, and being as well that you are mightily stacked to the nth power, I suppose I could be talked into sparing your life for the time being. Just so long as you remember we get to finish this once we get back to Earth."

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Power Girl replied, and flew down to give Lobo a hand up, when a surprised look came over his face and he disappeared beneath the surface of the ocean. Power Girl halted above where Lobo had been moments before and scanned the ocean warily. Where had he gone? Was this one of his tricks?

Abruptly a large fin broke the surface off to her right, followed by a grey head. It was a shark, the size of which she had never seen outside of the cinema, and clenched in its massive jaws was Lobo, who seemed to be staring at it with incredulity, as if not believing it would have the temerity to attack him. "Lobo!" she shouted, preparing to move to his aid, before the shark disappeared with him beneath the surface once more.

Power Girl gasped, as suddenly she was attacked from behind. A large, pink tentacle shot around her waist, pinning her arms to her sides, and then circled up towards her shoulders. She stared down in amazement and revulsion before being jerked beneath the surface, barely managing to get a lungful of air beforehand.

Beneath the water was a gigantic squid, like something from another era, and it only had to use the tip of one of its tentacles to completely encircle her. The thing was damnably strong too, and she shuddered as she felt its suckers greedily gaining purchase on her skin. At that moment, she saw Lobo and the shark dodge by in a flurry of blood and bubbles. Whose blood she could not determine, but it was clear that at least one of them was not having a good day. It was also clear that both she and Lobo would have to save themselves and not expect help from the other. Very well then.

Although Power Girl could survive on little air for quite some time, she could not hold her breath indefinitely, particularly if exerting herself. To make matters worse, the tightening of the tentacle was making it that much more difficult to hold on to the air she already had. Yet if the squid had its way, it seemed quite possible that lack of oxygen would be the least of her worries. The tentacle was withdrawing and pulling her closer to the parrot-like beak in the squid's underside. Even through the water, she could hear the sharp, click click of it eagerly opening and closing. Grinding her teeth together, she tried to break free of the tentacle. But without leverage, she was unable to do more than loosen its hold slightly. Gazing down below, she could see the gap between the squid's beak and her body rapidly diminishing. Her legs remained free, and she kicked desperately at the snapping beak as the squid tried to force her within. Her feet impacted on the hard surface of the jaws, but the creature stubbornly pushed her forward. A kick missed, and her leg slid between the halves of the squid's beak. The beak closed hard about her shin, and though the sharp edges did not break the skin, Power Girl did feel a painful pressure that assured her that if the squid kept at it, it would be able to break through eventually.

Yet as the squid worked her further into its maw, it had to loosen its hold about her body or else take a chunk out of its own tentacle. This was the break she had been waiting for, and Power Girl slid her arms free and grabbed hold of the tentacle. Viciously, she tore it in two, so that she was no longer connected to the squid. Dark blood spurted quickly into the water, clouding it and making it difficult to see. As if in surprise at its injury, the squid opened its beak, and Power Girl made use of that moment to push free of the creature. Without turning back for another look, she swam as hard as she could for the surface, desperate for air and just as desperate not to let another tentacle seize her. She burst through the surface of the ocean and continued heading up, hearing the splash of a heavy tentacle behind her as it cleared the surface and reached up for her. Only when she was sure she was out of reach did she turn back around. To her surprise, the squid had surfaced, and its tentacles weaved and reached up towards her much closer than she would have expected. The squid looked to be at least one hundred and fifty feet from tentacle tip to the top of its head. Lobo had been right when he had told her they weren't on Earth any longer.

Frowning, she flew back down and grabbed hold of the nearest tentacle at its outermost point so that it could not wrap about her. Flying backwards, she lifted the entire creature out of the sea. Gaining altitude, straining at the creature's weight, Power Girl commenced to swinging it back and forth like a pendulum, finally letting go and watching the surprised squid fly across the ocean before splashing back in several miles off. Now to see how Lobo was doing.

Power Girl streaked back down to the surface of the water, unsure of who she was hoping had been the victor of the other battle being waged beneath the surface. Before she could dive in, however, Lobo's head emerged and a grin distorted his bloody features. For a moment she was not sure if the blood was his or the shark's, when, triumphantly, he raised a gore covered set of shark jaws over his head, bits of flesh hanging from the bloody bones. "Guess who's gonna be needin' dentures!" he cackled, before dropping them back into the ocean. He raised a bloody hand up towards Power Girl. "Let's go, babe. Let's get outta here and frag the S.O.B. who interrupted our date."

Ms. Victory stepped out of the stream, her hair dangling wetly on her shoulders. She-Cat was curled up on a nearby rock, sunning herself dry, and so Ms. Victory walked over and had a seat next to Quicksand Girl on the now solid clearing. The stream had not washed out all the grit from her costume, but at least she felt somewhat more comfortable.

"So, now what?" asked Quicksand Girl, looking at her questioningly.

"That's a question I seem to be asked with increasing frequency these days, and I never seem to have a satisfactory answer."

Quicksand Girl bobbed her head in response. "I know the feeling. We should probably look around for a town somewhere. At least that's what I think. I mean, it seems likely we were all brought here for some reason. I mean, I figure beams don't randomly pluck people from their planets. At least not where I'm from. So that suggests something intelligent was behind it."

Ms. Victory nodded. "Yes, but then why would something bring us here and then not reveal itself? It doesn't make much sense."

"But we have to find what brought us here if we are ever going to get home. And I'd rather not just sit here and hope that the person or thing is looking for us. I heard a nasty roar in the jungle just before you two dropped in, and I had actually made the bog for it. It's been quiet since then, but I'd rather get out of the jungle, assuming there is more to this planet than jungle."

Sighing, Ms. Victory clamped a soggy glove on Quicksand Girl's shoulders. "Okay. You're right. But I don't look forward to telling She-Cat her siesta is over."

"I don't blame you, but she's not my friend."

"Sometimes I wonder if she's mine," Ms. Victory admitted as she went over to rouse She-Cat.

In moments the three began moving through the jungle in single file, trying to take a course parallel to the stream. Quicksand Girl had argued that if there were any towns, they would need a water supply, and so they'd have the best chance of finding one by following the stream. Thus it was agreed, with Ms. Victory leading the way, followed by Quicksand Girl and then She-Cat. As they walked, they again heard the thunderous roar of some large predator, and were made more nervous by the way the sound seemed to come from above them. Even She-Cat had become prone to glancing anxiously about.

After an hour of walking, the three looked much the worse for wear. Each of their costumes were torn to various degrees from the sharp branches and occasional thorns they encountered, and sweat glued their outfits to their skin. Ms. Victory was about to suggest they take a rest when a spear rushed by her face close enough that she felt a breeze. It thudded into a nearby tree and reverberated back and forth. She ducked down instinctively and shouted back to the others. "We're under attack."

From the jungle around them emerged a group of screaming women covered to various degrees by animal skins. They were waving swords and spears madly about and it was clear they weren't in a negotiating mood. With a snarl, She-Cat leapt forward, swinging her claws about in an arc that tore open the throat of the first woman. The woman collapsed immediately, clutching the ragged remains of her neck. A second drove a spear at She-Cat, but with the agility of her namesake, she twisted away and drove her elbow into the bridge of the woman's nose. She-Cat grinned with satisfaction as she felt it crunch under her blow.

Quicksand Girl backed off, uncertain of what to do. Her power was primarily defensive in nature, and she had never been engaged in a battle like this. Her hand to hand combat skills were not terribly strong. Nervously, she reached down and touched the ground just as an amazon leaped on her from behind. Quicksand Girl stumbled forward, and as she had not prepared herself, slipped into the quicksand as well. This had never happened before, and it took her quite by surprise. With the quicksand up to her thighs, she twisted around and grabbed the amazon by the throat. To her surprise, the woman's neck snapped instantly, and Quicksand Girl dropped her limp form into the quicksand alongside her, where it quickly settled and disappeared. Quicksand Girl looked down at the quagmire about her waist, and willed the quicksand to be no deeper than where her feet now rested as she considered what had just happened. She had never had strength like that before. Was it something about this planet? Or maybe it was her contact with the quicksand itself? She had never tried to fight while actually in quicksand before.

Her pondering was broken off as a spear emerged out of nowhere aimed right for the open center of the Q on her costume. She had no time to move away, and screamed as she closed her eyes, awaiting the impact and pain. To her surprise, she felt something bounce off her chest, and looked down to see the spear sinking beneath the mire. It had bounced off her. With a crazed and cocky grin, she screamed, "Come on and get me, you cowards! Let's go for it!"

Ms. Victory had been sure Quicksand Girl was dead when the spear had been heading for her, and had been relieved when it ricocheted off. Apparently their new ally was tougher than she had previously let on. If they all made it out of this, she might be worth recruiting for the FemForce. She certainly had a more agreeable disposition than She-Cat had been showing lately. Glancing down at the trio of unconscious women at her feet, Ms. Victory spun about and planted a kick in the stomach of another attacker. She didn't know why they were being attacked like this, but they were holding their own so far.

"Stop fighting or your cat friend will die," a voice cut through the grunts and sounds of fighting. Both Ms. Victory and Quicksand Girl turned in the direction of the voice and saw She-Cat sprawled unconscious on the jungle floor, with a spear poised at her throat. Quicksand Girl and Ms. Victory exchanged a glance and simultaneously lowered their fists.

"Tie them up. Tightly," ordered the redhead whose weapon remained poised over She-Cat. "We can do unspeakably rude things to them later."

Quicksand Girl stepped out of the quicksand, offering her hands to the nearest warrior. "I don't like this," she said to Ms. Victory.

Ms. Victory winced as two warriors jerked her arms behind her and wrapped a vine about her wrists. "Let's just play it cool for now. We can't sacrifice She-Cat."

"No," the leader of the amazons agreed. "That is our job." Grinning broadly, she drove her spear shaft into She-Cat's shoulder and then jerked it out again. Ms. Victory lurched forward, but the amazon raised her spear again and had it poised over She-Cat's chest this time. "No, no, no," the amazon laughed, and raised the sword to her mouth, her tongue slowly coming out and running along the blood soaked tip. Ms. Victory looked at the still unconscious and now bleeding form of her friend. She glared at the leader who only laughed back at her.

"You'll pay for that," Ms. Victory stated flatly.

"Oh, I'm sooo scared," she laughed back, licking the spear head clean as if it were an ice cream cone. "Let's take 'em home," she announced to the warriors, and led them deeper into the jungle.

Another battle had almost broken out between Lobo and Power Girl as she flew them towards land, when he had decided to give her a friendly tweak on her behind. Harsh words had been exchanged, and Power Girl had placated herself by deciding upon the first part of his anatomy she would hit when their battle was rejoined back home.

"Land ho! babe," Lobo cried, pointing ahead.

Power Girl squinted and saw that he was correct. Land was in sight. Thank god, she thought, eager to relinquish her load. She felt maggoty just having contact with him. She pushed herself to build up speed and get them closer.

As they drew closer, she was able to make out more details of the coast. Jagged cliffs rose hundreds of yards out of the ocean, and on top of them was a carpet of green. It appeared they were in a tropical area, based on the vegetation she was able to make out. The shore beneath the cliffs was dotted with dark chunks of rock, thrusting up out of the beach. Power Girl did a double take at noticing a pair of figures standing atop one of the rocks, apparently oblivious to the waves crashing fitfully about them. She pointed them out to Lobo. "Look. What do you think they're doing down there?"

"Looks like they're waiting for a visit from their Uncle Lobo. Let's go down there and beat some information out of them. Maybe they know why we're on this fraggin' planet."

Power Girl was loathe to follow any of Lobo's recommendations, but she agreed with him on this occasion, and swooped down to land on the rock. Lobo brushed himself off and stepped forward with a swagger and leer. Power Girl placed a restraining hand on his sleeve and examined the pair.

The man was an older gentlemen, garbed in lavender, voluminous robes and wearing a beaten, pointed cap with stars and golden comets emblazoned upon it. His face was tan and wrinkled with eyes like raisins nestled within the folds of skin. His mouth was similarly buried beneath an unkempt, bone-yellow mustache and beard. He examined them from beneath similarly thick eyebrows but remained silent.

His partner was a young, robust woman with a mane of hair the color of buttered corn cascading down her back. Her figure was poorly concealed by a minimal use of animal skins. Her nose was turned up slightly and her eyes narrowed as she stared at Power Girl. She held a spear in one hand and had a look about her that suggested she was used to being obeyed. However, this self-assured stance changed as her gaze wandered over to Lobo. Suddenly, she looked a bit uneasy. Power Girl could understand that, as it was not easy to meet Lobo's red stare even under optimal circumstances, which was generally agreed to be from across a solar system. Deciding that neither of the strangers were going to speak, Power Girl cleared her throat and began the introductions. "My name is Power Girl, and this is Lobo. We seem to have been brought to your planet for some reason, and you two are the first humanoid life forms we've encountered since arriving. Do you think you could help us out?"

"Or should we just kill you now and be done with it?" added Lobo eagerly.

The woman stepped back and cupped a hand to the old man's ear, after clearing away a mass of dirty hair. "Could these possibly be the others we sent for?" she whispered.

The old man nodded, absently stroking his beard. "Indeed." He seemed to consider for a moment before shrugging. "Well, there's nothing to be done for it, I suppose. This is what happens in a random universe." He turned to Power Girl with a smile, wisely deciding she was the safest member of the duo to address, and held out his hand. "I'm Proto, Chief Wizard and Scientist of Neewom, the planet you currently find yourself on. Next to me is Glorana, former Queen of the Amazons and aspiring actress."

"Please to make yer acquaintance," grunted Lobo, running his eyes over Glorana in a way that made her rethink her choice of wardrobe. Or more specifically, lack thereof.

"Likewise, I'm sure," Glorana replied, lying through her teeth.

"Yes, yes," Proto continued. "At any rate, we are indeed the ones who summoned you here. Hope it didn't inconvenience you at all, but we're in a frightful spot of trouble and really didn't know where else to turn."

"Perhaps you'd best start at the beginning then," suggested Power Girl, taking a seat on the top of the rock. She waited a moment, and then the others followed suit. Glorana edged closer to Proto and away from Lobo, testing her grip on her spear.

"You make sense, young woman. Perhaps we have done well after all," Proto continued after settling himself and his robes about him. "I will try to keep this short, as I really don't feel we have time to waste. Still, I suppose we owe you some explanation if we expect you to help us.

"About six months ago, Xanaqui, Glorana's general, decided that it was time for a new order in the Aranti amazon tribe. Thus, she and a group of supporters ousted Glorana. This was not done without a fight, and in spite of our primitive dress and tribal society, we are not as backward a planet as you might suppose. We had a share of, shall we say, 'gifted' individuals. Individuals, who, like yourselves, had been blessed with unusual abilities. However, through deceit and an incredible amount of luck, Xanaqui and her followers gained control of Glorana's Scepter of Zapping and wiped out all five of those superpowered individuals. It was not a pretty sight."

"Sort of like you, huh, Clyde? Now listen, you're borin' me, old timer," grunted Lobo. "When I get bored, I start breakin' things. Bones, f'rinstance."

Clearing his throat nervously, Proto continued at a somewhat faster pace. "Yes, well, I used the Dalamont Crystal to summon five superpowered champions from across the universe to aid our cause and replace the first group. I did so at random, hoping to gain the help of someone sympathetic to our plight and who would help restore freedom to our people."

Power Girl shook her head. "Five? But there are only two of us here."

"The other three have already been taken prisoner by Xanaqui," replied Glorana, stamping the spear end against the rock. "Before we had a chance to contact them."

"Great," Power Girl grunted, not caring for this situation at all. She wondered if she knew the three who were now reportedly the captives of these amazons. But first she had another question on her mind. "And what is this 'Scepter of Zapping' anyway?"

"A powerful artifact left over from some alien race," Proto continued. "Legend has it that it was left behind by a minor deity, Fergay was his name. He left it here for safe keeping, vowing to return for it some day. Superstitious nonsense, most likely. But it has the ability to emit a destructive force beam and has been the symbol of the throne for ages."

"There wasn't much left of our former champions after Xanaqui turned the scepter on them," Glorana added, gazing uncomfortably at the wet rock surface. "But it did make burial pretty easy."

"Stupid name for a weapon, but it sounds like it packs a helluva punch," Lobo grunted in appreciation.

"Okay, okay," said Power Girl, holding her head between her hands and feeling a headache coming on. "So you need us to get the scepter back and overturn the rule of this evil queen, right?" She stared at Proto hard. "So where do you fit into this? You've described an Amazon culture so far, and you're a man. Where do you fit in?"

"I'm an ambassador from the all-male tribe across the sea. Xanaqui has cut us off, so to speak, under her rule, and so my people desperately want Glorana's people free again." He glanced longingly down at Glorana's ripe form. "Desperately."

"So will you help us?" Glorana asked, forcing herself to meet Lobo's glance again.

Lobo crossed his arms and stared back. "What's in it for us?"

Glorana looked at Proto in confusion. Clearly they had not expected this manner of response. "Er, on this planet's heroes generally did things because it was the right thing to do," Proto offered lamely.

"No deal," grunted Lobo. "Try again."

Glorana nodded her head. "Very well. If you will help us liberate my people, there will be all the food and wine you can eat and drink." It rankled her to play this alien's game, but they needed his help. Her actress training was paying off at last. She smiled coyly at him and added, "Plus there will be a tribe of very grateful young women."

Lobo's eyes brightened at that. "They all built like you?"

Glorana grinned, feeling soiled beyond words and hoping that Xanaqui blew him away after they set the other's free. "Close enough," she replied through gritted teeth.

Lobo stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Tempting. Any killing involved?"

"I fear it is likely," Proto admitted regretfully, tugging on his beard and looking away.

Lobo punched one fist into another. "Alright! Then I'm in!" He turned to Power Girl. "How about you, sweetcakes? Sound good?"

Power Girl stood up, cursing the fate that had brought her to this planet with him of all beings. "Yes, I'll help out, but for none of the reasons you mention." She turned back to Proto. "You said you called five of us and three had been caught already. Do you know who they are, and more importantly, are they still alive?"

Proto nodded. "They are not from your planet, and I do not know their names. But yes, I can feel their energy sources still, although I fear they do not have much time."

Glorana agreed, rising to her feet. "Xanaqui has a love of torture. I fear for their lives."

Lobo stood up and stretched. "Don't you worry. Lobo is on the job now. They are as good as rescued." He raised Glorana's chin up so that she looked him in the eye and leered down at her. "So you better be gettin' ready to be grateful."

Proto looked at Power Girl worriedly and she shook her head. "Really, I don't know him. Please don't even think about the two of us in the same category."

The three women stood in a row, tied to large stakes that had been thrust into the ground. She-Cat remained unconscious, although it appeared the flow of blood from her shoulder wound had stopped. Ms. Victory was further worried about the blow that had kept her knocked out this long. She-Cat was tough, but now it seemed a concussion was likely. No doubt the spear wound had further weakened her. She-Cat's condition made Ms. Victory decide to hold back on using her own strength to escape for the time being. She could easily break free of these feeble ropes if she wished, but she doubted she could get Quicksand Girl and She-Cat free before they were pierced by a dozen spears. For the time being, they would have to remain prisoners and wait for their chance.

Quicksand Girl blew the hair out of her eyes and glanced over at Ms. Victory. They had been staked in the center of a large enclosure, with thirty foot high log walls surrounding them on all sides, with wooden stands resting above those. Lining the walls were unsmiling women with spears at the ready. Quicksand Girl had tried smiling at a few of them to ease the tension, but after ten minutes without a response, she felt more depressed than she had before. Glancing at the walls and the setting, she realized they were caught in a primitive coliseum, and wondered what was going to happen next. "What's going to happen next?" she hissed across She-Cat's limp form to Ms. Victory.

"I don't know. Can you get free?"

Quicksand Girl shook her head. "Not right away. These ropes are too tight. My brief encounter with super strength has apparently left me."

"Okay. Keep working at freeing yourself though, and when...ssshhh. Someone's coming."

The redhead who had overcome She-Cat entered the enclosure, and this time was garbed in some type of ceremonial robe, a garish mixture of shiny gems and colorful feathers. In her hand was clasped a golden scepter with a glowing blue stone set in the top. She approached them silently, stopping before each of them in turn and then stepping back to view all three captives simultaneously. A slight grin twisted her lips. "I see your cat friend is not as tough as she appeared. It is a pity, as I really wanted her to be awake as she is devoured."

"Come again?" Quicksand Girl asked nervously.

"You foolish girl. Did you think you could attempt to vanquish Xanaqui and not pay the price for your failure?"

"Just a minute," Ms. Victory interrupted. "We haven't come to vanquish anybody. We just found ourselves in the middle of this jungle and were trying to find a way out. We don't want trouble with anyone. I think we have a misunderstanding, that's all."

"You kill five of my warriors and you label this a misunderstanding?" Xanaqui asked, her eyebrows raised. "You have an interesting use of that word. At any rate, I feel we can get rid of this misunderstanding in a few moments."

"I don't like the sound of this," Quicksand Girl muttered.

"And I can't say that I blame you," Xanaqui said. "But I, Xanaqui, ruler extraordinaire of the Xanaqui tribe, have already sentenced you to death, and I should warn you that once I make my mind up I never change it."

"Sentenced us to death!" Quicksand Girl snapped. "But we were just defending ourselves!"

Xanaqui frowned and shook her head. "God, I hate it when someone won't accept responsibility for their problems. I could have you killed for that alone. At any rate, I only wish Glorana could see how her second set of heroes has failed her."

Quicksand Girl looked anxiously back over at Ms. Victory. "I think I'm totally lost."

"You aren't the only one," Ms. Victory replied. Turning her attention back to Xanaqui, she asked, "Are you sure we can't talk this over?"

"You are really starting to piss me off," Xanaqui hissed, stepping closer to Ms. Victory. "Talk, talk, talk. You fail on your quest and you don't have the character to die honorably. You make me want to puke." She reached down to the ground picked up a handful of dirt. Stepping over to She-Cat, she rubbed the handful of dirt into her shoulder wound. She-Cat moaned in her sleep and stirred slightly, but did not awaken. Xanaqui backed up and kicked her sharply in the shin. Grinning confidently back at Ms. Victory, Xanaqui continued, "I've wasted enough time on chatter. You have approximately half an hour to make peace with your god, and then it's showtime. The Queen has spoken," she snapped solemnly, and then spun on her heel to walk out of the enclosure.

"You know, I don't know why she thinks we're here to depose her. But I think I want to teach that creep a lesson," Quicksand Girl said flatly, looking at Ms. Victory for confirmation.

"She will pay for this," agreed Ms. Victory. She glanced up at the armed guards ringing the enclosure. "But I can't help wondering what she has planned for us next."

Quicksand Girl was silent for a moment and rested her head back against her stake, thinking about that. "Soooo, what do we do in the meantime. Know any tied to a stake songs we could sing to pass the time?"

Ms. Victory grinned awkwardly at her companion. "Sorry."

"No problem. You'll have to pardon me if I get a little talkative now. I'm pretty new to this game and I always tend to talk when I'm nervous. In case you're wondering, I'm pretty nervous right now. I can't tell if you are. If you are, you hide it pretty well."

"I...think I can concentrate on getting us out of this a little better if you can quiet down a bit," Ms. Victory interrupted apologetically.

"Oh. Sorry. I wasn't thinking. I guess I'd be better off trying to concentrate on what I can do to get us out of this mess too, huh? I mean, it would be better if I helped out instead of just being a burden or something, right? Maybe there is..."

"Please," hissed Ms. Victory. "Please, just quiet a moment."

Quicksand Girl clamped her teeth together and nodded. Maybe she had better see about thinking a way out of this mess herself. How could she use her powers to get herself out of this situation? She couldn't touch the ground with her hand to turn it into quicksand, and even if she could, she wasn't sure how that could help her situation any. On the other hand, her feet were touching the ground. She had never tried using her power through her feet before, but when she considered it, there didn't seem to be any reason why that wouldn't work. It had just seemed more natural to use her hand. Concentrating, she tapped her foot on he ground and willed it into quicksand in a tight circle about her. She had to contain a squeal of delight as a thick, bubbling sound came from below and she and the stake began to descend. When it had just covered her boot tops she willed the ground solid again, and since she was still physically in contact with it, it obeyed. She sighed in relief. At least she could do something to protect herself, even if it mean disappearing away from the danger.

Time passed quickly, and Quicksand Girl watched as the stands around the enclosure filled with female warriors. Whatever they had planned, they clearly expected it to be entertaining.

Glancing back over at Ms. Victory, she noted that She-Cat appeared to remain unconscious. Unable to maintain her silence any longer, she hissed to the blonde fighter. "Hey, come up with anything yet?"

A worried look settled on Ms. Victory's face. "No," she admitted. "I can break free as soon as they set things in motion though. Can you free yourself?"

"I--I think so," Quicksand Girl replied, glancing down at her dirt covered boots.

"Then that just leaves She-Cat for us to protect. I'm not sure what..."

A tremendous roar cut off her sentence, and both women's heads spun around in the direction from which it had come. Whatever had created that sound was lurking directly behind the large gates leading into the arena.

"I don't like this," Quicksand Girl moaned, eyes wide. "But get ready to make your move."

Xanaqui took her place in a brightly decorated booth at the front of the arena. She stood in front of a dais with her painted image on the front. Pausing a moment for the crowd around her to cease its murmuring, she raised her voice so that her subjects could hear her. "My fellow warriors. We are gathered here together to witness the demise of three more would be saboteurs in the employ of the traitor Glorana. With the deaths of these three outworlders, perhaps Glorana and that meddling fool Proto will realize that there is a new order and that it is here to stay."

"Hail, Xanaqui!" shouted a dark skinned woman next to her.

"Hail, Xanaqui!" a cheer, somewhat less enthusiastic, followed from the crowd.

"Very well. Release the beasts."

Quicksand Girl felt her heart thundering in her chest as the gates slowly creaked open. She readied her foot to stamp it into the dirt. Yet her knees went weak at the sight before her as the gates opened wide. Standing in the doorway were what appeared to be two large and very hungry dinosaurs of a type she was not familiar with. They stood at least 25 feet high, with large, flat, reptilian heads. Tremendous jaws stood open wide and slavering, revealing pointed teeth, stained the color of rust. Relatively tiny forelegs waved angrily in the air, and massive tails beat savagely back and forth within the enclosure, stirring up clouds of dust. They seemed to stand there for a moment as if not aware they were now free, and then their heads turned, almost in unison, towards the three women in the center of the arena, and a bone rattling roar erupted from their throats.

"Oh my god!" Ms. Victory moaned.

Quicksand Girl stamped the earth immediately, wishing it into a soupy quicksand, and began to sink rapidly into the grit. With a cry, she tore apart the ropes binding her arms and legs, feeling the renewed surge of energy from being in her element.

Ms. Victory snapped her ropes immediately and ran over towards She-Cat. She wasn't sure how she could defend She-Cat for long with her teammate unconscious, but she couldn't abide the idea of letting her be torn apart, defenseless. "Wake up, She-Cat!" Ms. Victory screamed in her companion's ear.

"Huh, what?" She-Cat replied groggily, shaking her head and glancing up to see the charging predators striding rapidly towards her. "Oh shit!" she yelped, stumbling to the side moments before the dinosaur bent over and took a bite out of the stake with a loud crunch. Leaning on Ms. Victory, the two of them ran to the far side of the arena.

Quicksand Girl had rapidly crawled free from the mud and raced over to join her new friends Although she only had enhanced strength when joined to the liquefied ground, it was not an angle which would give her much success against these monsters. "What are we going to do!?" she screamed in panic as she huddled beside them.

Ms. Victory craned her neck up to stare at what appeared to be a variation of a Tyrannosaur approaching. "Ladies, I'm not sure we've got the strength to tackle these monsters, but I don't intend to give up and let them eat us either. Let's just go at them with all we can." She looked at She-Cat anxiously. "Can you stand on your own?"

"I feel like shit, but I'm tougher than an alley cat. I can hold my own," She-Cat replied, and then turned to look at Quicksand Girl. "Hey, Q-Girl, think you can make a bog big enough to trap these suckers?"

"I don't know," she replied as they raced along the wall, the roar of the crowd combining with the roars of the dinosaurs and making it difficult to hear one another. "But I could try to trap one, at least."

"Well then, what are you waiting for?" She-Cat replied, slapping Quicksand Girl on the shoulder. "A formal invitation? Go get 'em!"

Quicksand Girl broke off from the group and darted across the center of the stadium. She was more terrified than she had ever been, but knew that the other two were counting on her as well. As she drew near the center, one of the tyrannosaurs swung its head in her direction and began moving after her. The ground shook with its approach. Quickly, she touched the ground and then backed off, waiting for its attack.

"Look out behind you!" screamed Ms. Victory, and Quicksand Girl spun around in time to see the other dinosaur bending over her with slavering jaws open wide. In the chaos, she had lost track of the other beast. Quicksand Girl felt her knees start to give way as she realized there was no way she could move in time. She was trapped between the two monsters. This time, she'd blown it for good.

However, before the monstrous jaws could close about her, a red, white, and blue blur cut in front of Quicksand Girl, and she watched in stunned horror as Ms. Victory leaped into the dinosaur's open jaws. Quicksand Girl remained frozen in fear as she watched the beast trying to close its mouth, while Ms. Victory strained to keep the massive jaws apart.

Another roar from behind her caused her to spin back about, and she saw that she had trapped the first tyrannosaur in quicksand, sinking it about halfway beneath the surface. But there its progress had halted. She-Cat ran and leaped onto the creature's back from behind and began scampering up its spine, howling with delight and apparently unhampered by her recent wounds.

Quicksand Girl's head swiveled back towards Ms. Victory and she saw that she was losing the battle against the dinosaur. Her chest heaving under the strain, Ms. Victory's face had turned an unhealthy red. Meanwhile, heavily muscled jaws inched closer and closer together. There had to be something she could do to help, but what? Not sure how it would help, she rolled over and slapped the ground near the dinosaur's foot, causing it to become quicksand as well. Quicksand Girl permitted herself to sink as well. When she was waist deep, she threw a punch at the thunder lizard's leg. Her fist ruptured the rough skin, drenching her beneath a fountain of purple blood.

It took a moment, but the pain finally registered in the dinosaur's brain, and the monster opened its mouth wide to bellow its protest. Seizing the chance, Ms. Victory rolled out of the toothy trap and landed hard on the soiled ground. Although feeling weak, she pushed herself to her feet and moved wearily towards the dinosaur She-Cat continued battling.

She-Cat had reached the tyrannosaur's head, and with a taloned glove had ripped out one of the creature's eyes. The beast was thrashing about madly, trying to dislodge her, but she had a firm grip with one hand, and kept plunging the other back into the bleeding socket. Ms. Victory whirled about towards the still submerged Quicksand Girl. "Get over here," she called. "This one is weakened already. We have to work as a team. Can you make it?"

"I think so," Quicksand Girl called back, although she wasn't entirely sure how she would manage that. As soon as she left her spot of concealment in the mire, the dinosaur would spot her and scoop her up in its jaws. On the other hand, they all had to work together if they were going to survive this encounter. She had to move fast. Willing the ground solid, she climbed free while keeping the dinosaur held firmly. Dashing around behind it to avoid the mouth, she began to circle around the beast when she heard a whooshing sound and turned around in time to see the gigantic tail rushing at her. Leaping into the air, she avoided most of the force of direct contact, but it still winged her and hurled her through the air towards the other monster.

"Yeeehaaa!" cried a voice from above, and Quicksand Girl groaned as a firm arm tightened about her already sore ribs. She landed hard and climbed to her feet only to find herself face to face with what looked like an escaped lunatic from a clown asylum. "Is this a private party or can anyone join?" he asked, red eyes glowing eagerly. His gaze traveled up and down her body and she had to stifle the reflex to cover herself. "Nice hooters," Lobo commented appreciatively, reaching out and giving one an experimental squeeze. "Maybe you and I can play ice cream cone when this is all over. Right now I've got some dinosaur ass to kick."

Power Girl landed next to Quicksand Girl as Lobo charged towards the dinosaur already engaged by Ms. Victory and She-Cat. Quicksand Girl's face remained screwed up in a mask of revulsion as she stared after Lobo's retreating form. Exhausted and drained as she was, she was finding it very difficult to comprehend what was happening now. She turned to look back at Power Girl. "Who are you guys?"

"Reinforcements," Power Girl replied. "Now if you'll excuse me, I can't let my companion hog all the glory." Leaping into the air, she shot towards the tyrannosaur.

Quicksand Girl shook her head in confusion. Suddenly the odds had changed in their favor, but they weren't out of trouble yet. Besides, she wasn't entirely sure whose side these two were on yet.

Ms. Victory yelped and leaped off the head of the dinosaur as she noticed a chalk-skinned demon run and leap towards the monster. She didn't like the looks of that thing, and planned to get away until she could figure out what it was doing here. Lobo made his body a living projectile and plowed through the beast's skull, fists first. She-Cat rolled backwards, narrowly avoiding being impaled as well. Lobo emerged from the other side, gore covered and stinking of hot blood, licking his lips and cackling wildly. The dinosaur went limp almost immediately, but was prevented from toppling forward by the firm grip of the quicksand.

"Who the hell is that guy?" gasped Ms. Victory, getting up quickly and helping She-Cat to her feet as well.

"I don't know, but I like his style. Come on, we've got another dinosaur to introduce to extinction."

The other dinosaur, while slightly wounded from Quicksand Girl's punch, was still trapped in the ground and snarling in frustration at seeing so much prey scurrying about out of its reach. Lobo, grinning, began a mad dash towards the trapped reptile, with the other four in pursuit. Abruptly there was the sound of crashing thunder, a sudden blackness, and a crater appeared in the dirt before Lobo. He tumbled forward, unleashing a string of epithets nearly as powerful as the blast that had created the crater. Eager for blood, he scrambled out and whirled about, fists at the ready, looking for the source of the blast. Stopping, he noticed the other four women were warily looking up at the review stand.

"Nobody fucks with the main man like that," he hissed, following their gaze up to the haughty figure of Xanaqui. Her expression was deadly, and her scepter was pointed down at the group. Lobo flexed his chest and tightened his fists, nails digging into his palms as he hollered up at the queen, "Are there any next of kin you would like notified before I make ya an involuntary organ donor?"

"Cool it, Lobo," Power Girl hissed. "That's the Scepter of Zapping she's got there. We don't know what it's capable of."

Lobo turned his fierce grin on her, and in spite of herself, she momentarily flinched backwards. "Didn't know you cared, babe. But don't worry about your Uncle Lobo. It'll take a helluva lot more than some toy to take the main man down."

"Don't do anything stupid," Power Girl insisted, grabbing him by the arm. "Give Proto and Glorana a chance to do their thing."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Lobo asked.

"Shut up down there!" Xanaqui hissed, interrupting them. "You have killed one of my pets, and one of you must die to pay for this crime. Who will it be? You perhaps?" she asked, swinging the scepter towards Quicksand Girl.

"Cut this shit," Lobo snarled, jerking his arm free from Power Girl and striding forward with determination. He jabbed a finger up towards Xanaqui. "Not that your fraggin' politics mean squat to me, but I have been promised one helluva party once your ass is grass. So I'd say you had better give it your best shot, because unlike the cheerleading squad behind me, I don't take prisoners."

Xanaqui had a slight smile as Lobo made his speech and nodded her head slowly. "Very well, we have our volunteer," she said confidently and pointed the scepter at Lobo. Abruptly a beam of blackness shot forward and struck Lobo in the chest, hurtling him backwards. A brief look of surprise came across his face and then he collapsed on the tarmac, silent.

Power Girl stared at Lobo in surprise, waiting for him to rise. When he didn't, she looked up at Xanaqui in wonder. She hadn't really believed the woman could affect a creature as powerful as Lobo. Abruptly she gained a new respect for the scepter and realized why Xanaqui had not been yet deposed. Ignoring her own safety, she raced to Lobo and knelt over him. She swallowed in anger. "He's not breathing," she announced, disbelief imprinted on her face.

"Enough of this!" shouted She-Cat, shaking her fist at Xanaqui. "Do you have no honor of your own? Are you so afraid of a fair fight that you would strike down an unarmed man in this fashion? You have stacked the odds in your favor from the beginning." She motioned for Xanaqui to come down and join her, pointing at the stadium dirt. "Let's go for it, hot shot. You and me, no weapons. Just a fight to the finish. Or don't you have the stomach for it?"

Power Girl's eyes narrowed as she watched the effect of She-Cat's words on the evil queen, and she could see they were striking home as solidly as physical blows. She personally doubted Xanaqui had much honor, but as the Queen was being challenged in front of her tribe it was possible she might be forced to respond to save face. She waited, curious to see what the amazon's response would be.

Xanaqui took several deep breaths, seeming to consider She-Cat's words before responding. "You desire a fair fight?" she hissed finally.

"If you've got the guts," She-Cat snarled back, spittle flying from her lips.

Raising her scepter away from the group, Xanaqui nodded. "Very well. But a fair fight would not be possible between you and I, for you are a creature with supernormal powers, while I am but a humble warrior. But I will pit my champion against your champion. If my champion wins, you will aid me in the destruction of my meddlesome opponents, Proto and Glorana. If your side wins, I will graciously abdicate the throne, returning power and the scepter to Glorana. Are these terms agreeable?"

Ms. Victory frowned. It sounded basically fair, therefore she didn't trust it. Xanaqui struck her as being as deceptive as they came, no doubt she had something up her sleeve. Ms. Victory turned to Power Girl. "Sounds good so far?" she asked dubiously.

Power Girl sighed. She didn't like this any more than Ms. Victory, but it did sound fair. On the surface. "Sounds fair. What are the rules?"

"No rules," Xanaqui responded. "A fight to the death, however you choose."

"No way," Quicksand Girl shouted. "Not to the death."

"No one asked you," snapped She-Cat. "I agree to those terms," she replied to Xanaqui. "Who will be your champion?"

Xanaqui smiled like a serpent and pointed the scepter at Power Girl. "She will be."

Power Girl stepped forward, shock pulling her eyebrows together. "I'm not on your side! You can't choose me for a champion! What if I refuse to fight for you?"

"Then the deal is off," Xanaqui replied smugly. "And I will kill you all. And by the way, she is your champion," Xanaqui continued, pointing the scepter at Quicksand Girl.

"No way!" screamed She-Cat. "Not the weenie! She's pathetic! We get to chose our own champion! Those are the rules!"

"Yeah!" agreed Quicksand Girl, for once in accord with She-Cat.

Xanaqui shook her head. "No, the rules were your champion against mine. I never stated who would select the champions. Do you wish to default instead?" she asked archly.

Ms. Victory turned towards Quicksand Girl. "I know you don't want to fight, and I think she chose you specifically for that reason. But you're the only hope we've got."

"Hopeless," grunted She-Cat.

Quicksand Girl chewed nervously on a fingernail. "But even if I do try, Power Girl seems a lot stronger than me. I'll still get killed if she tries to beat me." She shook her head, adding, "I really don't want to get killed. Really. I'm not kidding."

"Think about it," Ms. Victory said. "Power Girl is likely to hold back. She doesn't want their side to win. She won't fight to win."

"Yeah, but it's a fight to the death! I can't kill her even if she lets me win."

"Time's up!" Xanaqui announced, a smug grin on her lips. "Your decision?"

"We will fight," Ms Victory declared before Quicksand Girl could protest. She looked back over at Power Girl. "It's up to you now."

Power Girl frowned. She didn't want to fight for this dictator, but right now it seemed their only option. She just hoped Glorana and Proto would break in before the contest was over. "I agree," she said reluctantly. "But how do you know I will try to win? I don't want your side to win."

Xanaqui grinned again. "You will try, because you have honor. Besides, I will place a geis upon you with the scepter. It will bind you to keep your word. Are you willing to go along?"

Power Girl paused a moment and then replied, "Very well. I swear I will try to win this battle."

"The Scepter has heard your oath and its geis is upon you. Should you break this oath, you will be frozen still in battle and a new champion will be selected and you will be executed most painfully. My word on that. The entire council and tribe have heard this, and so it shall be done," Xanaqui intoned solemnly, her nostrils flaring.

Power Girl shrugged. She didn't feel any different, but geis or no geis, she intended to keep her word regardless. "When do we begin?"

"You have until we free my surviving pet and move your companions out of the way. My best wishes to both of you," she smiled venomously at Quicksand Girl. "And please do enjoy the final minutes of your life."

Quicksand Girl and Power Girl were separated from their companions and seated at opposite sides of the stadium. The rest of their group, including Lobo, had been deposited off to the side near one of the log walls. A chain had been attached to their ankles and hammered in the ground as a reminder that they were not to interfere with the battle.

Quicksand Girl gnawed on her lip as she watched the amazons extricate the dinosaur from the ground. It seemed to recognize them, or they had trained it in some way with which she was not familiar, as it did not attempt to attack them. Glancing back over at Ms. Victory and She-Cat, she felt her stomach twist. She could really have used their support right now, and a little strategy as well. She had no illusions about her chances. Xanaqui had chosen her, believing her the weakest of the band to fight the strongest. Quicksand Girl had some strength while in quicksand, but she really didn't have the experience to defeat another superpowered opponent. Plus, she was afraid. No matter what happened, she was destined to come out of this the loser. If Power Girl won, she would be dead and their mission would be a failure. The thought of both of these consequences depressed her. And if she won, by some fluke, she would have murdered an ally. Quicksand Girl had killed before, but never intentionally. She didn't want to start now. Yet she didn't seem to have any choice.

Power Girl stared across at her younger opponent and tried to puzzle a way out of their current predicament. The kid was green as spring grass, and Quicksand Girl wouldn't last a minute against her if she went full strength. Shaking her head sadly, she picked up a handful of stadium dirt and let it trickle through her fingers.

As the amazons led the dinosaur out of the stadium, Xanaqui rose from her seat and addressed her captives and tribe. "A challenge has been made and accepted by your Queen. It is now time for the traditional battle to the death to begin. There are no rules. You will fight until one of you is dead. There will be no interference from any outside parties at the price of the immediate termination of those individuals' lives. The battle will begin when I lower my scepter." Xanaqui smiled cruelly at Quicksand Girl and slowly lowered her scepter.

Power Girl instantly launched herself through the air towards Quicksand Girl, much to the latter's surprise. In spite of what she had said to Ms. Victory, Quicksand Girl had believed that Power Girl would hold back at least a little in the hopes of making it a fair contest. Quicksand Girl sprinted to the side, trying to plan her strategy. As long as Power Girl remained airborne, she wouldn't have a chance.

Power Girl pulled up in a tight arc and swung back around towards Quicksand Girl, her hair streaming along behind her. Quicksand Girl let out a tiny squeal as she ducked and Power Girl punched through the air directly above her. Swallowing in fear, Quicksand Girl darted back the other direction, running towards Ms. Victory and She-Cat. "What the heck do I do?!" she screamed at them.

"Run!" yelled Ms. Victory.

"Turn around and fight!" yelled She-Cat.

Quicksand Girl glanced over her shoulder and saw Power Girl streaking towards her with a grim set to her jaw. Quicksand Girl veered to her right, breathing heavily, knowing that even now Power Girl was toying with her. The crowd lining the walls of the stadium was cheering, screaming for her blood. Quicksand Girl was becoming more and more convinced that they would get their request. Unless...

Diving down beneath another pass, Quicksand Girl coughed on the cloud of dust that swirled about her body. She watched eagerly as Power Girl flew overhead and then slowed and turned back around. Rising, Quicksand Girl brushed the dust off her increasingly ragged costume, and tapped the ground as if impatient. It instantly turned into a thick, gunky quicksand, and she settled very slowly into it, the mud creeping up around her ankles. "Let's go, then," she shouted defiantly at Power Girl, her body feeling numb as she considered the consequences if she was wrong about this. "You want me, come and get me already!"

"That's the way, kid!" shouted She-Cat in encouragement. "Stand up to her! Teach her who's boss."

Power Girl took a deep breath and flew directly at Quicksand Girl. Quicksand Girl prepared for her, arms raised defensively. Her eyes focused on the fists aimed straight at her head, and she knew that if she was wrong she would be dead in the next second. She could not be wrong.

Power Girl's fist rocked her head back under the impact, but the quicksand held her tightly and Quicksand Girl ignored the pain. Wrapping her arms around Power Girl's shoulders, with a heave, she pulled her out of the air. Quicksand Girl instantaneously willed the ground into a looser quicksand, sinking the two of them deeper. Power Girl stared at Quicksand Girl in wonder. "How did you do that?"

Quicksand Girl ignored her, grabbing hold of one of Power Girl's arms. She had to make sure she did not leave the quicksand. Now they were in Quicksand Girl's turf, literally, and she threw everything she had in a punch at Power Girl's face. She hit hard, and Power Girl cried out in pain and surprise. Quicksand Girl winced at seeing blood on her opponent's cheek. She hesitated then, wondering if she was really up to what she knew she must do.

Power Girl made use of her hesitation and grabbed a handful of Quicksand Girl's flowing hair, pulling her deeper into the bog alongside her. From there it quickly deteriorated into a wrestling match, with both women pummeling mercilessly at each other. But Quicksand Girl remained on top, and Power Girl was settling deeper and deeper into the mud with each passing second. Quicksand Girl was no longer questioning whether she could kill this heroine, for she was fighting for her life, and she did know for certain that she did not want to die. Both her hands were clamped around Power Girl's neck and were trying to force her head under the quicksand. Power Girl's hands worked like jackhammers, beating relentlessly at Quicksand Girl's ribs. It felt like at least one was broken, yet she ignored the pain. If she let go now, Power Girl would give her more than sore ribs. Power Girl's head trembled under the strain to keep it out of the quicksand. Her eyes locked with Quicksand Girl's as the gritty sand crept up the sides of her face. "Do it," she mouthed suddenly, and went limp.

Quicksand Girl didn't have to be told twice, and she instantly thrust the blonde fighter's head beneath the surface. Power Girl's hands clutched frantically at Quicksand Girl, but Quicksand Girl continued to force her deeper. Soon her motions decreased in intensity. A bubble burst the surface of the mud, and then the hands went limp. Quicksand Girl kept her hands locked around Power Girl's throat for another minute before convincing herself that her opponent was not bluffing.

Quicksand Girl straightened up then, her own body submerged in mud from the chest down. She was spattered with grime and exhausted, but looked wearily at the crowd who were now staring at her in silence. Gasping to get her own air back, she forced her gaze over to the current queen of the amazons.

Xanaqui rose from her seat, and even across the stadium Quicksand Girl could see she was trembling with rage. "The deal is off!" she shouted. "You cheated! I don't know how, but you did! And until I find out how you cheated, you and your companions will remain my prisoners!" she continued, pointing her scepter at Quicksand Girl to show this was not a decision up for discussion.

Quicksand Girl hung her head in defeat, all the fight fleeing her as her adrenaline rush departed. She was hurt, possibly seriously, and had just killed someone who could well have been her friend. It felt as though everything had been taken out of her, and she couldn't give anymore. She was half-tempted to allow her body to settle into the quicksand completely and join Power Girl.

Ms. Victory was not feeling so complacent, however. Jerking her chain free from the dirt, she strode angrily forward. "We made a deal!" she shouted, furious. "You have clearly demonstrated to us and your people that you are a creature with no honor and as such are unsuitable to act as a leader for them. You must immediately relinquish the scepter and your claim to leadership."

"Relinquish this," Xanaqui smirked and fired the scepter at Ms. Victory.

The blast missed, for at that point Glorana leaped onto the platform and grabbed Xanaqui's arm. Proto had immobilized the rest of the amazons in Xanaqui's viewing box with a spell he'd been working on during their travel to the village. He was determined to allow Glorana a chance to defeat her usurper.

"It's all over now, Xanaqui," Glorana snapped, wrestling for control of the scepter with her shorter tribeswoman.

"'It's all over, Xanaqui'" Xanaqui mimicked, her lips drawn back in a sneer. "Is that all the better you can do? God, you're pathetic. I'll kill you for good this time."

Black bolts of power were flashing randomly about the stadium as the two amazons fought for control of the scepter. Ms. Victory and She-Cat rushed to the side, trying to make as small a target of themselves as possible.

Lobo chose that moment to shake his head and groan, sitting up and looking about him. "Hot damn!" She-Cat shouted to Ms. Victory over the screams of the crowd who had become victims to the random destruction of the scepter. "Mr. Halloween Mask is alive."

Standing, Lobo stared about, apparently oblivious to the lethal blasts shaking the stadium. He appeared to be sizing up the situation, and then glanced back towards the struggling figures of Xanaqui and Glorana. "YOU!" he shouted.

Xanaqui glanced over at the form of Lobo and swallowed nervously. "Oh, shit," she groaned, fear showing in her face for the first time.

"I WANT YOU!" Lobo bellowed, striding forward in a straight line, not even flinching as the ground exploded about him. Xanaqui was fighting to gain control of the scepter and trying to aim it at the approaching invader. She knew that she had more to fear from him than anyone else on this planet.

"Looks like you've made some other enemies," Glorana hissed in Xanaqui's ear. "I've had a chance to spend a little time with the man approaching. He's not someone I'd want mad at me. I think I'd kill myself if I were you."

"Up yours," Xanaqui hissed, aiming a knee at Glorana's midsection.

"No," replied Lobo, leaping up onto the platform beside them. "Up yours."

Xanaqui let go of the scepter then and Glorana tumbled backwards with the scepter clutched in her hands. A triumphant smile came to her face and she looked up to see what would happen next.

"No!" Xanaqui screamed as Lobo hooked the front of her halter with one finger and jerked her forward.

"Nobody blasts the main man like you did, lady," Lobo snarled and grabbed the top of her head with his free hand. Xanaqui's eyes stared into Lobo's and then she shut them, knowing what was coming next. With a savage twist, Lobo spun her head around, the crack audible throughout the suddenly still arena. He dropped her corpse to the ground and turned expectantly at the pale Glorana. "Party time?" he asked, slapping his hands together.

Glorana swallowed nervously. She hadn't really thought that this hero could kill Xanaqui in cold blood like that. She wondered if her champions were any better than the person they had helped to vanquish. Proto stepped up behind her silently and helped her to her feet. "You shall get your rewards, Lobo," he said heavily, not meeting the red eyed glance.

In the stadium below, Ms. Victory and She-Cat had run over to Quicksand Girl, stopping just short of where the ground turned to mush. "Quicksand Girl," Ms. Victory shouted. "It's over. Do you need help out?"

Quicksand Girl turned her head towards Ms. Victory and looked at her as if not recognizing her for a moment. Then she shook her head. "No, I can get out on my own," she sighed.

"So can I," said Power Girl, her head rising out of the quicksand, mud dripping off her features like a mask.

"What the hell!" snarled She-Cat, jumping back.

Quicksand Girl stared in wonder at the grinning face next to her and pulled her up so that they were both resting waist deep in the mud. Quicksand Girl willed it hard below that point, so that they would sink no further. It felt like an anchor had been taken off her shoulders, and she threw her arms about Power Girl in a quick hug, wincing at the pain in her ribs, but still thrilled that she had not killed this woman after all.

"Easy, easy," Power Girl grunted, nursing some wounds of her own.

"How come you're alive?" Ms. Victory asked.

"Yeah," put in She-Cat.

"I took a deep breath before I let Quicksand Girl push me under, and then lowered my metabolism while I listened to what was going on through the ground. It wasn't easy, but difficult times call for difficult solutions."

"But I thought you promised to try to win," Quicksand Girl said. "What about the geis? It sounds like you let me push you under."

"Well, I did," Power Girl admitted. "But all I promised was to try to win. I never promised to give 100%. If you hadn't given it your all, I might have beaten you anyway."

She-Cat spun around, as suddenly the arena gates opened and a mob of amazons charged in. "Shit! Get ready to fight again! It's not over yet."

Yet the women dropped their swords and spears at the entrance as they rushed in, and Ms. Victory noted they wore smiles. Her eyes widened at seeing Lobo being carried enthusiastically on the shoulders of a pair of attractive young warriors. "Relax," Ms. Victory shouted. "I think they're on our side now."

"Feetal's giz!" Lobo shouted from the crowd as they drew nearer. "Y'all had a mud-wrestlin' contest without inviting me?" He shook his head. "I'm hurt. But if y'all are up for round two, so am I."

"No thanks," said Power Girl, looking down at her soiled form ruefully. Her eyes narrowed as she glanced back up at Lobo. "And would you mind telling me how you came back from the dead?"

"Dead? Har!" laughed Lobo. "It takes more than this planet has to give to take out the Master of Disaster. Just scrambled a few molecules, s'all. I'm fit as a fiddle now," he said, slamming a fist against his chest.

Glorana and Proto emerged from the crowd as the amazons cleared a path for them. They looked down at the still half-submerged Power Girl and Quicksand Girl, and then back at Ms. Victory and She-Cat. Reluctantly, they looked up at Lobo. Glorana held the scepter in her hand and raised it above her head as she spoke. "I have returned to you, my people, thanks largely to the help of these protectors from other worlds." She smiled at them as she continued. "We shall now hold a celebration in your honor, and you are welcome to stay and enjoy our hospitality for as long as you like before we return you to your home worlds." Her gaze settled on the two mud covered women. "Shower facilities are available for those who desire them," she added with a slight grin.

The four women had allowed themselves to enjoy the attention and praise of the amazons for two days before they began to get restless and felt it was time to return home. She-Cat, Power Girl, and Quicksand Girl had all had their various wounds cared for through the magic healing spells of Proto, and were now feeling better than they had even before they arrived on Neewom. At this time, they all stood reconvened in the arena with Glorana and Proto. Lobo was out of sight, up in the grandstand with a trio of amazons and making noises that no one chose to investigate.

"I really believe it's time we all returned home," Power Girl said. "I'm sure I've friends wondering and worrying about me."

"The same goes for us," Ms. Victory added. "Maybe someday we'll be able to come here again for a visit.. And certainly if you ever need our help, feel free to call."

"It was nice meeting you all," Quicksand Girl said, going up to each of the women in turn and giving them a hug. "I hope that I'll see you again."

"Under happier circumstances," Power Girl added.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," sighed She-Cat. "Could we just get home already?"

Proto nodded. "I am ready to begin the spell when you are."

"But before you do," interrupted Glorana. "Let me again thank you for returning peace to my people and me to my throne. If there is ever anything you need of us, feel free to contact us. Here is a slaastone for each of you," she continued, dropping one in each woman's palm. Each was a different color; yellow for Power Girl, red for She-Cat, brown for Quicksand Girl, and blue for Ms. Victory. "Hold it in your fist and think of us, and we will get in touch with you. Is there anything else we can do for you?"

At that moment, Lobo's head appeared over the stands. "Hey, y'all weren't gonna leave without me, were ya?" he asked, standing, and jerking up the zipper of his trousers. He pointed at Power Girl. "Besides, sweetcheeks, you and I still got a score to settle."

Power Girl leaned forward on impulse and whispered in Proto's ear. Her thumb jerked in Lobo's direction. Proto's eyebrows raised in surprise, and then a ghost of a smile could be made out within his beard. "I don't believe that is unreasonable," he stated, awaiting Lobo's arrival.

"Okay," said Lobo once he had joined the group. "Now ya can do yer hocus pocus, Clyde."

"Farewell, heroes," Glorana called out to them as Proto began the incantation.

"Farewell, hooters," Lobo called back, winking lecherously.

The arena was filled with a flash of yellow light, and when Glorana could see again, she and Proto were alone.

Quicksand Girl found herself seated on the couch in the apartment of her living room, staring at the television, and shook her head in confusion. What had happened? Had it all been a dream? She glanced at the smooth, brown stone in her hand and smiled. No, it had not. She pressed it against her chest and closed her eyes.

Ms. Victory and She-Cat rematerialized in their home city in the midst of a wet T-shirt contest. Ms. Victory won and She-Cat taunted her about it the rest of the way home.

Power Girl found herself goosed by the stump of a recently deceased Douglas Fir, and hopped off in a hurry. She glanced about the silent New Hampshire forest, and smiled to herself. "Thanks, Proto," she called up into the sky, and whistling contentedly, she leaped into the air and decided it was time to visit her recently made friend, Phantom Lady.

Lobo materialized in the middle of space in a far end of the galaxy. He looked about in amazement, wondering where the trees and Power Girl had gone. "----------" he shouted into the vacuum of space and looked around for the nearest planet to begin making his way towards. Power Girl might have gotten away from him now, but he had a long memory.

Kaol --May 1991

The End