The Midvale Girls

The further adventures of the teenaged Alex and Kara Danvers

Metamorphosis

Chapter 9

Brainy stared at the display on the small handheld device for a few more seconds before raising his gaze to meet Alex's eyes. "As indicated by your hair and eyes, it appears you and Salu have somehow become merged."

They had arrived back at the Clubhouse from their trip to Venegar barely ten minutes earlier. Neither Lyle nor the Triplicate Girls had had any idea what was happening to Alex, so she had immediately turned to Brainiac 5.

"What does that mean?" asked Alex. "I thought she was supposed to be small enough to fit into one of my cells and once we were well clear of the Emerald Eye of Ekron, she would simply exit my body and then return to full-size."

Brainy shrugged. "I have no explanation for it. Do you sense her presence? Do you feel any changes besides the visible ones?"

Alex thought about it for a few seconds before shaking her head. "No. I feel just the same as always." That wasn't exactly true. Although she had interacted with the kryptonite suit for less than an hour, Buffy had already started to feel like a friend. It was hard to believe the suit was gone, destroyed by the energy-construct versions of Kryptonian Flame Dragons. She definitely had a strong sense of loss - almost grief, but that had nothing to do with the question of Shrinking Violet.

"Well, even if you have no sense of her, you may still have acquired her gift. I suggest you try and shrink yourself," replied Brainy.

"How would I do that?" asked Alex, her tone almost hostile and her newly blue eyes flashing. The Legion's whole reason for bringing her to the 31st Century had been to go to Venegar to retrieve Salu Digby. She had gone to Venegar and it had been a lot harder and scarier than Lyle and Brainiac had indicated. Now she just wanted to go back home to her simple life in the Midvale of the 21st Century.

"I don't know. Just try imagining yourself shrinking?"

Alex had no idea how imagining herself shrinking would simply make it happen. But the sooner she did it, the sooner she could go home.

She tried mentally shouting 'Shrink', as though it was a magic word like 'abracadabra', but nothing happened. She pictured herself the size of a sugar cube, but again nothing happened.

She was getting ready to give up when she suddenly remembered flying in the Kryptonite suit. It had seemed totally effortless like she didn't even need to try. So she tried thinking about shrinking in the same way she had been able to fly – thinking but not really thinking about it.

And suddenly Brainy seemed to be getting taller and taller until he was ten feet tall . . . then forty feet tall . . . and then a hundred feet tall . . . and finally he passed a thousand feet tall and no longer looked like a person but rather just an infinitely tall wall of lavender cloth. It definitely felt like everything around her was getting bigger rather than herself getting smaller.

''Hello?' she heard a voice call timidly. It seemed to emanate from within her head rather than something she was hearing with her ears.

'Salu? Salu Digby?' Alex mentally called.

'Who . . . who are you?' replied the voice tremulously.

'My name is Alex . . . Alex Danvers. I'm from the 21st Century. Brainy's Improbability Engine said I was the only one who could rescue you from the Emerald Eye of Ekron, so the Legion recruited me. Now you seem to be stuck in my body. Do you know how to get clear of me?'

'I have no idea how I got here,' Salu replied. 'One second I was trapped in the Eye and the next I was here.'

Alex had hoped for a better answer from the girl. Well, at least Salu was alive and here. If they could figure out how to separate the two of them, then she would be free to go home to the 21st Century. 'I'm going to go back to full-size and then maybe Brainy can help us.'

'Okay,' replied the small voice.

Alex used the same mental trick she had used to shrink herself to enlarge back to full-size. Of course, the action felt just the opposite as everything around her seemed to shrink to her size rather than she herself getting larger.

It only took a fraction of a second and suddenly she was standing right in front of Brainiac 5 while Kara stood to her left and Lyle stood to her right.

'Salu are you still with me?' asked Alex. When she didn't get an immediate reply she asked again, 'Salu?' Nothing.

"Wow, Alex, you did it!" exclaimed Kara. "What was it like?"

Alex abruptly realized she had been so focused on Salu that she hadn't even really thought about being a tiny, miniature version of herself. Perhaps if she had encountered some scary ant that felt twenty feet tall relative to her like in some old low-budget horror/sci-fi movie, it would have made a bigger impression.

"That's not important now," replied Alex before turning her attention back to Brainy.

"Brainy, while I was shrunk, I could hear Salu in my mind. She didn't seem to have any idea how she got merged with me or how to undo it. So I returned to full-size to get your input, but now I can no longer hear her."

"Really? That's interesting," mused Brainiac 5.

"Do you see any way around this situation? I don't want to have to shrink and then enlarge to pass messages between you and Salu."

"Well, instead of shrinking until you are microscopic-sized, perhaps you only need to shrink a little. Can you shrink until you are 99% of your normal size? At that size no one is going to notice anything different about you, but it still might be enough to let you interact with Salu."

Perhaps Brainy really was smart, thought Alex. That idea had never occurred to her.

She again thought of shrinking, but only a little. She overshot and Brainy seemed like he was eight feet tall. She tried to correct and overshot back to full-size. It took several more attempts, boomeranging up and down in size, until she felt she was only slightly smaller than normal.

"Wow, Alex," exclaimed Kara once Alex's size had stabilized. "You're almost making me dizzy."

"Try it from my perspective," Alex quipped back before turning her attention inward.

'Salu, can you hear me?' asked Alex.

'Yes,' the other girl replied immediately.

'Can you see and hear the others?'

'Yes, although I don't know the girl standing next to you,' answered Salu.

'That's Kara, my sister. She's Supergirl.'

'Your sister is Supergirl? Cool.'

Alex turned her attention back outward. "Brainy, you were right. When I'm just slightly smaller than normal, I can communicate with Salu. And she can see and hear you, but I guess I will have to pass along what she says. Now, do you have any more bright ideas? Like how to separate us?"

Brainiac 5 shook his head. "Not at the moment. Let me take another scan of you now while you are using Salu's shrinking ability to see if that tells us anything."

Alex held still while Brainy again ran the small handheld device up and down in front of her. Once he was finished, he spent nearly a minute studying its display.

"I can detect a few slight differences compared to the previous scan when you were full-sized, but I don't yet have any idea how to use that to separate the two of you. I'm afraid you are going to be stuck with each other for at least awhile."

After dropping the device on the workbench located directly behind him, he turned back to Alex. "And I'm afraid the situation with Mongul has become more urgent. While you were on Venegar, he broke through the protective barrier the other Legionnaires had been trying to erect. Rather than the three days I thought we had, he will be here in less than eight hours. Since our other attempts to stop him have failed, Alex, you and Salu are our last hope. You are going to have to infiltrate his command planetoid and disable or gain control of the Sun-eater controller Mongul possesses. The future of planet Earth is depending on you."

"But . . . but you said all I had to do was go to Venegar and then I could go home." Even Alex could hear the pathetic whine in her voice, but she couldn't help herself. The trip to Venegar had sounded a lot easier than going up against someone who had destroyed at least a half dozen stars and must have countless lethal weapons and hordes of fanatical minions. Stopping Mongul definitely sounded like a job for someone with experience, not for someone who a bare five hours earlier had thought she was merely getting to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Metropolis as a brief respite from her boring life in Midvale. But suddenly a boring life sounded like a wonderful idea.

'Alex, we have to do this,' whispered Salu, however her ethereal voice didn't sound any more enthused than Alex felt. 'The fate of the world is resting in our hands.'

'I thought you have been missing on Venegar since before this current situation arose,' replied Alex. 'How do you know what is going on?'

'I don't, but I'm sure you or Brainy can fill me in.'

'I wish I was half as brave as you,' answered Alex.

'I'm not that brave, ask anyone. I had to work really hard to overcome my shyness and get accepted into the Legion. And I've been scared to death several times since joining, but I forced myself to not freeze and do my part. I'm sure you can, too, Alex.'

Alex hated the thought of the fate of billions of people resting on her shoulders. But she knew she would feel even worse if she did nothing and they all died.

"Fine, Brainy. I suppose I have to at least try," said Alex with a sigh. "What do I have to do?'

Brainy grinned. "Excellent. First, I have a small gift for you and Kara. You will need yours for the mission and Kara might find hers useful, too."

He turned back to his workbench and opened a cabinet mounted to the wall above the work surface. From it, he pulled out a pair of small objects and handed one to Alex and the other to Kara. "These are Legion Flight rings. They allow our members to fly who don't have a natural ability. Kara, you will find it useful when you are under the influence of a red sun like now."

Alex looked at the ring in her hand. Gold and about the size of a boy's class ring, it was definitely bigger and bulkier than the rings she normally wore. The top surface was engraved with a stylized capital L, which she assumed stood for the Legion of Superheroes. She tried various fingers and it seemed to fit best on the middle finger of her right hand.

She mentally thought of lifting six inches in the air the same way she had interacted with the kryptonite suit. Immediately, she lifted off the ground. She was glad she wouldn't have to master a new technique.

Then she looked over at Kara. She, too, was hovering above the floor. Of course, Kara would instantly master the ability to use the flying ring without all the effort it had taken her to master flying. But then Kara had several years of experience flying and Brainiac had previously interacted with Superboy, so he was probably better able to tune the ring to work with a Kryptonian from the 21st Century than a human from the 21st Century.

"Okay, I'm glad to see you both can fly without any more training," said Brainy. "Now, since neither of you are probably going to be full time members of the Legion, I've added an extra feature to your rings – a concept I've borrowed from The Flash's ring."

"The Flash?" asked Kara and Alex nodded her concurrence with the question.

"Oh, he's a Superhero you haven't met yet. I don't think he makes his first appearance until a few months or maybe a few years after the day when Lyle pulled you from the 21st Century. I don't want to go into any more detail that might force us to wipe your memories before you can return home like we had to do with Superboy."

"Definitely don't say any more on that topic, I don't want you messing with my memories," said Alex with vehemence. Even though she was curious about The Flash's superpower – something to do with fire or lightning she guessed - she didn't want to risk losing her memories of her father, if something went wrong with the memory wipe procedure.

"Anyway, The Flash came up with a method of storing his superhero costume in a ring. If you were going to be full-time Legionnaires, you could wear your costume all the time like most of us. But I assume when you get home you will want to wear civilian attire most of the time. This will allow you to have your superhero costumes with you at all times in case you need it. Now my method is different from The Flash's and involves what you would call nanotech and holograms back in your era, but it achieves a similar effect. You should see a button on the side of the ring. Press it once to switch into your costume and press it again to change back into your regular clothes. You might as well try it now." When Brainy finished talking, he must have done something they couldn't see, as a large section of the wall behind him suddenly turned into a large mirror.

Both girls turned so they were more fully facing the mirror. It took Alex only a moment to spot the slightly recessed button on the side of the ring. She shared a glance with Kara and when the other girl nodded, they both pressed their buttons simultaneously.

A colored mist poured out of the rings. The mist from Kara's ring was red, white, blue, and yellow. The mist from Alex's ring was blue, purple, green, and black. It swept out until they were both completely obscured for about three seconds and while it happened, Alex's skin tingled all over. When the mist cleared, their appearances had been completely altered.

Kara was wearing a short white crop top with a large red S on the front in the familiar diamond shape from Superman's costume. A red cape hung down her back, but it stopped just below her waist rather than extending all the way to the floor like Superman's . A very short blue miniskirt was wrapped around her waist, short white gloves covered her hands, and red boots adorned her legs almost up to her knees.

However, the more startling change was her hair. Normally light brown, it was now a very bright yellowish-blonde. And it streamed out behind her head as though she was flying a hundred miles an hour rather than simply standing there. The effect was so unnatural it seemed to command Alex's entire attention and made it almost impossible to focus on the other girl's face.

Then Alex turned her attention from Kara's reflection to her own. Her outfit was equally short, but at least it didn't leave her stomach exposed since she had merely human abs rather than the impossible Kryptonian ones. The outfit was mostly green with purple highlights. And while the skirt was extremely short, it surprisingly had full length green sleeves and black gloves reaching almost to the elbow and matching the black knee-high boots.

But like with Kara, the most startling thing about her appearance was her hair. Or rather, in her case, what had been substituted for hair – violets. A giant mass of small purply-blue flowers extended down to a little below her shoulders like her real hair would, but these didn't just lay there like hair. No, they were constantly in motion like each of the five hundred blossoms was able to move independently. After watching it for a few seconds, the first thought that popped into Alex's head was the snakes the legendary Greek monster Medusa had in place of hair. Hopefully, just looking at her wouldn't turn people to stone.

It took a real effort to force her gaze away from the writhing mass of flowers and on to her face. Her complexion was now an almost chalky white. Her mouth was adorned with lipstick such a dark shade of burgundy to be effectively black. And her eyes were surrounded with heavy purply-blue eye shadow the same color as the flowers. She barely recognized herself.

"Since I assume you don't want anyone to recognize you when you are doing superhero things or figuring out who you are to potentially disrupt your normal lives, I tried to come up with something distracting that wouldn't require wearing a mask, which always struck me as downright lame," stated Brainiac, seeming to have read Alex's most recent thoughts.

"This certainly seems to do the trick," replied Alex, as she pulled her gaze away from her own reflection and looked back at Kara's. Her streaming blonde hair also managed to make it difficult to focus on the other girl's face.

When she did manage to see past the hair, Kara's face looked subtly different. It seemed like her cheekbones were more pronounced, her nose looked slightly slimmer, and her eyes were more silver than blue. And then there was the other girl's lips, they were now a shade of pink she had never seen before. The color, all by itself, suddenly made her yearn to run her fingers across them or maybe her lips or tongue. It was insane that mere pink lipstick could have that effect. And if they had that effect on her, another girl, she had to wonder what effect that lipstick would have on men. Brainiac's special effects had to be doing something more than just altering their appearance when they were in costume.

Between the costume, the wild hair and the facial changes, if she didn't know it was Kara, she wouldn't have recognized her even though she had seen Kara every day for the last two years.

'Wow, Brainy must really like you two,' whispered Salu within Alex's head. 'He has never gone to that much bother for me or anyone else.'

Before Alex had time to grasp what Salu might be implying, her thoughts were interrupted by Brainiac 5.

"Okay, Alex, now that that is out of the way, I think it is time I brief you and Salu about the mission. The clock is ticking and we don't have all day to stare at a mirror," said Brainy.