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Me, Myself & I

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Written by Rjjt456 :: [Friday, 03 September 2021 21:33] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 04 September 2021 22:06]

Uploader's note: This is a commission that I've kept forgetting to upload here.

It was written by Cones

Find them here: https://mobile.twitter.com/possiblycones

They were amazing to work with, and I'm really happy with how it turned out!

(OPS!! While I remember, the idea isn't entirely my own, but was originally made by a friend from Discord named Greepdad.)

***

A chill fell over Mark’s shoulders as his bike turned the corner into Blackwillow Hills, shadow swallowing them both as the bright, late summer sun overhead was blocked by just one of Castle Amanda’s many towering spires. Located just between 7101 and 7105 Maple Street, the great stone building only took up one of the many identical plots of land available, but capitalized on said land to its fullest, smothering both the front and back lawns with elaborate gardens and reaching high into the sky with its dozens of lavishly decorated rooms practically stacked atop one another. Nobody seemed bothered though; even as they sat in swimming pools that never saw the light of day due to the castle’s imposing presence, they hardly even considered the strangeness inherent in a regal castle presiding over a suburban neighborhood, in a country that hadn’t fallen under the jurisdiction of any sort of royalty in well over 300 years. Nobody, that is, except Mark.

Mark looked up towards the castle’s highest balcony, looking for any sign of a figure that could be on it. Was she there? It was so far above him he couldn’t tell. He turned his head back to the ground and pedaled faster.

***

A knock thudded on the door of 7124 Maple.

Oh my god. He actually came.

Lisa LaMona hadn’t seen or heard from Mark Angelo in just over three years. When the email from him first came the prior week, she had first wondered how he had even gotten her address to begin with. However, given that it was plastered all over her personal site for art lessons as well as the credits tab for her increasingly popular Everyday Life With a Shelf Stocker webcomic, the question then quickly became why. He had been a sophomore when she had graduated, but even with two whole less years of attendance to his name, he utterly dwarfed her in terms of popularity at Blackwillow High. While she kept to her sketchbook, earning herself a bit of a stigma as the ‘weird art kid’, EVERYONE seemed to love Mark; he was funny, handsome as hell, and perhaps most damming of all, simply a nice person, seen just as much at the local soup kitchen as he was making game-winning shots during basketball games. Lisa herself was not discluded from this admiration, but with such a vast gap between them on the social totem pole, her crushes were kept to herself. She ultimately responded to the email by agreeing to meet with him, fully ready to slam the door in his face the moment she suspected it to be some sort of sick prank or marketing scheme, but as she opened the door he seemed timid, sheepish almost, with a tightly taped-up cardboard box in his hands.

“H-hey Lisa. Sorry to contact you out of the blue after so long. I’m so glad you were able to meet with me.”

“Umm, it’s fine. What do you want?”

Mark pursed his lips. Even in the shadow of Castle Amanda the flowing golden blonde of his hair and green of his eyes shone in contrast to Lisa's mousy brunette shoulder cut and glasses-covered face, his varsity jacket looking a hundred times better than the paint-splattered t-shirt she had woken up in. But despite his looks, his ordinarily upright posture hung heavily, his gaze falling to the bushes beside the door. It all looked severely out of place; something had gone wrong.

“…Mark?”

“Right, right…I had come here to ask you for your help. I was looking through your website and wanted to know whether or not you are still doing art lessons.”

Lisa was taken aback.

“Well, I am, but usually those are meant for, like, grade schoolers though…er, kids and stuff. If someone your age was looking to get into art there should be beginner-level courses available at whatever university you’re about to go to and I’m certain that will be way more effective than whatever I’m--”

“Yeah, I know about those, but…sorry. Shouldn’t have interrupted like that. You see, I need the lessons to be private. I understand if you can’t, or you’re too booked already, but if that’s the case, is there anyone else you know who does them?”

“No, it’s fine. I can still do them, I’m just…a little confused what you’re trying to do here. You had never shown any interest in this activity before- what exactly are you wanting to accomplish with all this?”

Mark looked over his shoulder, and then up towards the castle looming behind them.

“Do you have time for me to explain?”

***

Sitting at Lisa’s kitchen table, he set down the cardboard box. She still didn’t know what was inside of it, but she had the sinking suspicion she was about to be told.

“What do you know about Princess Amanda?”

Lisa seemed confused by the question.

“I mean, she’s the absolute ruler of Blackwillow County. The Pink Princess, sitter of the throne, and owner of countless riches. You looking for specifics or…?”

“-and what about her parents?”

“Umm, I think her mom works at the library, and her dad does some sort of office stuff, not really sure, actually.”

“Yeah, and? Don’t you think that’s weird? Why would the princess be governing the area when her parents are alive? Hell, why is she even a princess to begin with when neither of them are royalty themselves?”

As he unfortunately feared, Lisa began looking concerned, as if what he had just said was utter nonsense.

“I guess it’s a little weird, yeah, but that’s the way it’s always been. Not sure why you’re getting all political about this- what does it have to do with getting art lessons?”

“A lot, unfortunately.”

Mark reached over and bought the cardboard box down to the floor, cutting open the tape seal with his house keys. Leaning over, Lisa peered over the edge of the table to try and catch a glimpse as he lifted the opening flaps, but noticing, he angled it away so only he could look inside. Mark rummaged through the box, the sound of paper flittering until he grabbed hold of a few loosely-stapled sheets and took them out, quickly closing and re-taping the box the moment they were out. Anxiously, he tossed the flimsy booklet over the table, where it slid to a stop right in front of the woman sitting across from him.

Curious, she read the title beneath a rough, amateurish pencil drawing of a woman wearing an all-too-familiar dress.

The Pink Princess? Wait, are you wanting art lessons just so you can make fanfic comics about Her Majesty?”

He shook his head.

“Nope, this comic isn’t just about the Princess. This comic MADE the Princess.”

Lisa’s silence made it clear more explanation was necessary.

“In about two weeks, I’m going to move out for college, so I’ve been trying to pack everything up in my room; figure out what to take, what to put in the attic, and so on. Ended up finding this box, and with it, that comic and a whole lot of others. I barely even remember making them, but I was big into making up worlds and stories as a kid, drawing in private without a care in the world. Never showed them to anyone, at least not until just the other day. Amanda was there helping me, and…”

“The Princess was helping you move? I find that hard to believe.”

“That’s what I’m saying though. She WASN’T the Princess. She was just…Amanda. We had been friends for years and all we were doing was helping each other out with moving. When we got to my closet we found all the comics and as soon as she started reading that one…god, it all happened so fast. Her face changed before my eyes, she became so beautiful…her clothes became her gown, the crown just popped into existence, and I could see her house from my window just shoot up into the sky with all of those towers and spires. Next thing I knew she was being escorted home by her knights and everyone started acting like things had always been that way.”

Lisa instinctively felt like calling the cops, her hand already in the pocket of her sweatpants. The man was clearly insane, and yet, he spoke so earnestly and with such clearheadedness that she couldn’t help but begin contemplating the implications of what he was saying. For anything he was claiming to be true, the simple act of looking at his drawings had to have fundamentally changed not just Amanda, but the entire world around her. Just last week she had watched her take part in peace talks with the UN, and all of the money in her wallet bore her face; Amanda had always been the Princess since the moment she was born. She had to be. Lisa chose her next words carefully.

“So, what I’m guessing is that you believe ALL your comics have this kind of…effect…on reality?”

“I have no way of telling, but…yeah, or at least that’s what I’m assuming until I know otherwise. That’s why I’m here. I think my drawings seem to somehow change the first person who reads them, well, the first person except myself that is, into the character of the story, and then the setting ends up coming out into the world with them. Anyone who didn’t see the change happen right in front of them just believes that it’s always been that way. After that they just become normal comics, otherwise you’d probably end up the same way as Amanda did now that you’ve looked at that one. It’s just so weird…I don’t know why I have this power when I hardly have any skill in doing it to begin with…”

Leafing through more of the pages, Lisa took in several scenes portraying the roughly-drawn Princess doing various activities that seemed unnervingly in character for the national figurehead she knew.

“I mean, you’re not terrible. You certainly got her trademark icy stare down to a T.”

“It’s supposed to be a dreamy smile…which is kind of the issue. If I can just rewrite reality just by drawing it, I could do so much good by drawing stuff that fixes problems all over the world- but that’s only if what I draw looks the way I want it too. Look at her; I tried to make a kind, gentle princess character and now she’s a bit of a brat who won’t even answer the phone as I try to figure out how to fix everything…I just want it all to go back to normal, and the only way I ever see that happening is if I somehow draw something that EXACTLY undoes what the first one did.”

“And you think I can teach you to do that?”

“Absolutely, your comic is amazing at that sort of thing! You know that one chapter that didn’t even have any speech bubbles? I still completely understood everything that happened when--”

Lisa giggled and waved him quiet out of embarrassment from the praise.

“You don’t need to explain it to me, I WAS there when I made it after all.”

Mark laughed in return, rubbing the back of his head, the anxiousness he had carried to the table gradually easing off his back.

“Oh, heh. Yeah, guess you know it better than I do.”

Beneath her smile however, Lisa could not have been mentally blushing any harder. MARK was a fan of hers? How come he had never told her! Crazy story or not, he still seemed kind, genuine, and had an interest in learning, but if what he was saying had any water to it, him learning how to draw might very well be the most important thing in the entire world.

“Anyways, I should be able to get you a hour-long session slot tomorrow around ten or so, if that works for you. I…don’t know what to think about this whole ‘magic comic’ business, but if you want to become a better artist, I am always happy to help out a friend in need.”

Lisa hoped that the term ‘friend’ wasn’t getting ahead of herself, but the young man across from her didn’t seem to take issue with her wording the slightest.

“Oh man, thank you SO much. You would not believe how much of a relief it is to hear that. I’ll be there for sure- four o’clock, on the dot.”

Checking his watch, Mark began to stand up, pulling his jacket off the back of his chair and hoisting up the cardboard box. Had either of them been less excited, they might have heard the sound of a small tear forming across its side, but within seconds he was already loading it back onto his bike out on the front porch and strapping on his helmet.

“Listen, I have to get back to my job soon but if you have any questions about, well, everything, please let me know- you should have my email from the one I sent you, right? I know it’s a lot to wrap your head around and I can’t thank you enough for believing me.”

“Ehh…yeah, we’ll talk more about that at the lesson itself. Ride safely.”

Waving, Lisa watched as he rolled himself out of her driveway and down the hill until he was out of vision. She squinted towards the supposedly familiar castle, watching as the sun slipped between spires and letting its radiance beam forth. Not wanting to think about it, she returned inside, her ability to believe in much of anything left feeling somewhat shaken.

***

In a bid to work off that feeling, the remainder of Lisa’s afternoon was spent at her desk over a tablet, inking in the next update to her comic. With its growing following, part of her was excited at the prospect of not having to divide her time between it and giving lessons going forward, as ad revenue and merch sales were quickly reaching levels she could sustain herself on. A part of her would certainly miss it though if she stopped completely. It was nearing eight when she had finished everything but the lettering, and with a whole day to go before her weekly deadline, that could wait.

Lisa’s stomach growled as she entered the kitchen and dug around her refrigerator for something to eat. Leftovers were certainly not the most exciting thing in the world, but she was hungry now, and figured she could treat herself to something better once the chapter was uploaded. It was at the table then that she saw a crinkled sheet of paper, tossed in the corner of the hallway to the front door.

“That’s not from my sketchbook, is it?”

Walking closer, she was able to make out that it was not just one sheet of paper, but several, stapled together at the edges into the shape of a booklet. The quality of the art on the sheets, or rather, the lack thereof, made it quite clear that it was not her handiwork.

“Must have fallen out of Mark’s box from earlier…”

A chill fell over her as she talked to herself, her voice growing faint. This was one of Mark’s comics- an inconspicuous piece of prepubescent literature that he claimed could alter the very nature of reality. Lisa quickly looked away. Was it too late? Was its mysterious powers about to take hold?

Several seconds passed, and with no grand sense of change in the world around her, she felt the cold dread turn to hot embarrassment. Was she really falling for his insane stories? Somehow in her admiration of the young man she had let herself almost believe the crazy scenario he proposed to be true.

“That dude needs therapy more than art lessons, that’s for sure. Can’t believe I was almost buying it there.”

Calming down, she brought the book back to her living room couch, the rest of her meal pushed aside for the time being. Like the Pink Princess, the cover of this comic also featured a lone female figure front and center, though this time the regal dress had been replaced with a slick bodysuit with thin, streamlined armor plating accenting her chest and limbs. A long draping cape hung over her shoulders as she posed with one arm to the sky, and if the title at the bottom was any indication, she had a name just as flamboyant as her outfit.

Omni-Woman: Protector of the Universe.

“Well, he certainly didn’t stick to one genre.”  

Lisa began flipping through the book. Perhaps at the very least it would help her better gauge Mark’s talent level as an artist so she would know where to start. It started with a young woman receiving a phone call from the mayor and with a turn of the page, donning a superhero costume and taking to the skies. What followed was presumably supposed to be a fight scene between Omni-Woman and some kind of villainous monster, though by that point the young Mark had clearly overestimated his storytelling ability and what little plot there was devolved into nonsensical tangents. The antagonist the mayor had presumably called for help against was quickly forgotten, beaten by what the author labeled an ‘Omni-ray’ performed by her commanding all of the elements at once, and for the remainder of the book’s pages Omni-Woman seemed to do whatever she pleased, ranging from lifting a conveniently labeled infinity-pound barbell to winning a marathon in zero seconds.

It was shlock, pure and simple, with the Mary-est Mary Sue out there as a protagonist, but she couldn’t help herself from finding at least a little enjoyment out of reading about Omni-Woman’s outlandish exploits. It reminded her of her own early art career, creating characters of pure whimsy without even thinking once about the terms of ‘realism’ and ‘plot’ that all too often made coming up with ideas in her adult age significantly more difficult. She would often daydream about these characters even when not drawing, always wishing she could soar across the sky with amazing powers; a wish that came true on her fifteenth birthday when her mom revealed her alien heritage and her half-Omnipromorph genetics began to activate… 

Wait what the fuck. That didn’t happen…

And yet, it did. It had to have. She remembered it. Being given the talk about responsibility as the family armor was passed down to her. Her mother soaring off into the cosmos for another planet to save, vowing to return some day. The first time she had stopped a bank robbery, subduing crooks and proudly proclaiming her new title to the world…

Omni-Woman: Protector of the Universe.

Lisa shrieked, her mind racing at the implications and realizations as she was easily able to piece together what had happened in those brief few moments. Out of a mixture of reflex and disgust, she instinctively flung the comic book away from her, not wanting to be near the wretched thing for another second. Slipping from her fingers, the stapled paper began flying through the sky, seemingly moving in slow motion, but in fact was merely being watched by someone who was now much, MUCH faster. Crossing the room, the book hit the opposite wall, and Lisa’s timescale normalized just as cracks began spreading across the plaster from where it hit, eventually leaving behind a large hole as it lay suspiciously undamaged on the front lawn beyond it.

Oh my god oh my god oh my god. C’mon, please just let me have gone momentarily insane from the late dinner or something. If this is real, I--

Her phone buzzed. In an action that suddenly felt all too familiar, she pulled the device out of her back pocket and answered with a resigned sigh.

“…Hello?”

“Oh thank heavens. Is that you, Omni-Woman? This is the Mayor, we’ve been trying to contact you all night!”

“Umm, yeah…I guess I am.”

“…What is that supposed to mean? Omni-Woman? Are you alright?”

“Err, I’m fine. What do you need, Mr. Mayor…sir?” 

“It’s terrible, a chemical plant has been robbed by a group of thieves and the police just can’t catch up with them! They’re currently in the south side of town and about to make their getaway. You’re our only hope, Omni-Woman!”

“Sure…I’ll uhh…get right on that.”

Lisa hung up before she could get a response. To deny or try and rationalize what was going on any longer would be pointless. A small part of her wanted to just ignore the call outright, letting Omni-Woman sit this one out as Lisa sat home and watched TV as she usually did, but she had a feeling that was no longer the kind of person she was. Standing up, she stretched her back and felt all the tiredness and hunger from her long art shift melt away. Before, she usually hated having to leave the comfort of her house for much. Now, her body seemed to want nothing less than to run free for the good of others- or in this case, fly free.

It was as natural as breathing. Lisa hovered off the ground by a foot and then smoothly glided forward at a walking pace. Hardly even feeling like a power to use, her body simply ignored gravity, moving just as easily on the six axes as it had with the four on the ground. With her legs free, she didn’t even have to remain standing, laying back and grinning giddily to herself as she drifted through her house as if floating on the surface of a pool. Flipping upright, she began opening the front door, but stopped as she realized that she wasn’t yet dressed for the job. Lisa wondered momentarily where her costume was supposed to be in this new, altered version of her reality, before remembering that she had put it in her closet after last night’s adventures, as she always did.

Alright, flying is cool, but I’m still not a fan of this new-memory shit. Still a little creepy.

In a span of time no other living being could perceive, Lisa appeared in her bedroom, her mind-bending speed just as perfectly practiced and controlled as her flying. Her numerous drawings she had framed on the walls throughout her house, albeit now mixed with some magazine covers featuring her superhuman persona, remained peacefully untouched even as she had broken the sound barrier numerous times over just inches away from them.

Sure enough, the costume was there in her bedroom closet on a coat hanger, though as she reached for it she caught a glimpse of herself in a nearby mirror, and paused to take herself in. While knowing that it was now how she had always looked, the part of her mind still taking in this new reality couldn't help but ogle at her appearance. She was beautiful.

Her height had gone up by well over a foot and a half, and with it came a slim, athletic build, with every pose of her body causing the toned texture of her muscles to ripple softly under her skin into a new, perfectly sculpted masterpiece. She could have easily passed as an Olympic athlete, but knew that while her frame wasn’t too unfeasible for an ordinary human to achieve, the abilities it hid were anything but. Grinning a perfectly straightened smile, free from the braces she had once needed, she tossed her head back and removed her glasses, which had lost their prescription and had become purely aesthetic. Revealed from behind the lenses, silvery eyes shone brighter than ever, while her hair which closely framed them on both sides had lightened to a dirty blonde while developing a natural wave that flowed gracefully across her sun-kissed skin, lengthening down to the small of her back.

She only looked better once she tossed aside her t-shirt and pants and slipped on the smooth, alien material that comprised her heroic uniform. It clung just tightly enough to let her physique press through without looking too indecent, and the long boots and gloves added a physical presence to her limbs that made it clear that she was a woman of action. The metallic plating across her chest, despite likely not offering up much in protection, added an almost regal air to her appearance, accented by the cape that perpetually flowed behind her, even in the still air of her room. She could only imagine how a person in need would feel seeing her, emblem shining, as she descended from the heavens to rescue them to safety.

Hovering to the window, she flipped it open, emerging into the cool night air before her graceful hover speed suddenly accelerated by a thousandfold. Lisa tore through the night sky without even a stray gust of wind, the suburbs of Blackwillow quickly vanishing below her as she headed into its more urbanized center.

“He said south side, right? I’ll be there in a flash.” 

Arriving over the stated neighborhood, she found herself inside a thick shelf of blackened clouds, but the issue of visibility was quickly solved by an instinctual snap of her fingers. The wind obeyed her silent command, and tore a perfectly circular hole in the clouds, revealing a speeding getaway car underneath. Lisa smirked.

“Right, elemental control too. Wouldn’t be Omni-Woman without it.”

Her eyes sparked. Diving down towards the highway below, Lisa plunged through the hole and struck the asphalt with a fist, just hard enough to leave some cracks at impact without damaging the integrity of the road. With a sense of flair uncharacteristic of her old self, a bolt of lightning stuck simultaneously with her landing, and as she stood to her impressive new height, cape billowing, a crack of thunder overhead completed her entrance. Just ahead of her and approaching fast, the two criminals inside the car took notice.

“Shit, it’s Omni-Woman! Step on it!”

The heroine just smiled, much to the panic of the lawbreakers, and she slowly held out a fist. The driver’s face went pale, as the boss in the passenger seat beside him gripped the dashboard in anger.

“W-what’s she doing?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care; run her over if you have to! We gotta--”

The car suddenly swerved, and as it whipped offroad, the boss could just barely catch a glimpse of Omni-Woman’s fist uncurling, dropping a handful of bolts to the ground, freshly removed at imperceptible speed from the front left wheel of their vehicle. Thinking themselves likely soon to be dead as they barreled towards a ditch, the thieves braced themselves for impact when a thunderous stomp could be heard behind them and a towering mass of stone erupted from the grass, curling into a steep ramp that safely ground their momentum to a complete stop. Realizing that they were in fact still alive, the two crooks contemplated leaving behind the car and making a run for it, but didn’t even have the time to make such a decision as the car was then lifted up from underneath them by a single arm of the only woman capable of such a feat. Her voice came from below, dripping with confidence.

“Alright boys, gonna give up running or am I gonna have to practice my juggling?”

With the passengers too terrified to speak, Omni-Woman decided to take their non-response as a ‘maybe’, and gently tossed the vehicle to the side. She slowly sauntered her way to the wrecked car, sticking her arm straight through the hood and impaling the engine block with her palm like it was made of crackers. The headlights died alongside the battery, and once ensured the car was no longer operational, she tapped on the front window with a pinky, shattering the glass. The driver in panic pulled a gun, and fired two shots directly into her face, but she didn’t even flinch. The first crumpled on contact with her skin, and the second was split in half as it grazed alongside a single strand of her unbreakable hair. Unfazed, she merely blew a kiss of superheated air in their direction, just intensely enough to heat the grip of his gun to an uncomfortable degree and force it to be dropped to the floor of the car. Beaming a winning smile, she put her hands on her hips.

“Hey, I thought my storyline was about me defeating SUPERvillians? You all barely put up a challenge!”

As the driver began begging for mercy, the boss remained silent, his eyes wide in horror as he looked at the container of the chemicals they had stolen, broken from the crash as the contents inside began slowly dripping onto his skin. In an ordinary situation, the compound would likely have just made him sick, but this was no longer the reality for ordinary situations. His body shuddered, rapidly turning green in hue, before all of a sudden exploding out in every direction, bursting the totaled car apart. The driver was tossed aside, but Omni-Woman merely stood her ground and watched as the former crime lord mutated at an incredible pace into a towering golem of radioactive ooze.

“Ooh, now THAT’S more like it!”

Roaring, the monster swung at her with a long, gangly pseudo-limb, but dodging it was a simple matter as she flew up to meet his fifty-foot high gaze. Curling her hand into a fist, she let loose a single punch, angled ever-so slightly upwards. The clouds above instantly parted, the entire formerly-cloudy night sky now clear as crystal as the now-visible stars reflected on chunks of the ooze monster’s glistening body, the force of her blow having caused it to rupture into thousands of pieces that were then left strewn across the highway. Her job wasn’t over yet, however, as each piece began seeking out one another, gradually congealing into numerous smaller copies of the same creature they had come from.

With a chorus of groaning growls, the creatures glared at the flying heroine and began spitting globs of intensely acidic goo in her direction. Most missed, but a few splashed harmlessly on her skin, hardly even inconveniencing her until one by chance splattered and sent a handful of droplets into her mouth. The acid, strong enough to dissolve diamonds in seconds, didn’t harm her tongue and throat as one would expect, but it did leave her with an aftertaste like she had eaten a bag of sour gummies a bit too fast. Omni-Woman glared, her cheerful showoffishness turning serious.

“Blegh. I may be invincible, but my taste buds aren’t! Think it’s about time I put you down!”

She twirled in mid-air, pursing her lips as she blew out a ring-shaped stream of icy wind that coalesced into a wintery vortex. Soaring in a ring around the growing storm, she accelerated faster and faster, twisting the winds into a frigid tornado and sending all caught inside plummeting sideways towards its center, the slime monsters’s semi-solid forms bristling with crystallization as they froze completely solid, their green coloration blasted away as they frosted over with chilling white. The storm passed as quickly as it arrived, and Omni-Woman came to a stop over its center as it revealed a giant pile of frozen slimes it had caught inside.

“Alright Jelly Jerks- kiss your ash goodbye!”

Cupping one fist in the other hand, a rushing howl screamed over the creaks of the struggling, frozen mass before her as winds rushed into her palms. Her left hand threw out a gale-force punch, wrapping her enemy in turbulence before letting loose with her right, which she coated with flames just before impact.

“CONFLAG RUSH!”

The flames fed on the winds and erupted into a firestorm, consuming the ice in an intense burst of light and heat. A string of punches followed one after another, each blow infusing the inferno with more oxygenated fuel with which to gorge itself upon. The slimes at the center of this crucible stood no chance, quickly vaporised to the last molecule as her assault came to a close and the blaze burst into a crackling explosion before snuffing out. Tossing her hair, Lisa turned behind her to address one last blob of slime that she had intentionally spared from the storm, hardly the size of a squirrel. Growling angrily, the pint-sized menace flailed its tiny arms futilely as she picked it up in her hands.

“Well how about that, I’m even more overpowered than I realized! Didn’t even need to break out the Omni-ray for you, though I suppose overkill isn’t really my thing, y’know? Don’t worry, I'm sure some scientist will give you a lovely test tube to make yourself at home in. Maybe they’ll even figure out how to turn you human again so you can serve your sentence with your buddy over there!”

As if on queue, the police proceeded to finally show up, and quickly put one of the subdued criminals in handcuffs and the other in a sandwich bag. Sticking around just long enough to accept her thanks from the officers, Omni-Woman took to the skies once more, another day saved.

Easing off her incredible speed once she was well out of eyesight from anybody down below, Lisa shook her head in amazement as she flew aimlessly, letting the wind take her where it would as she got a totally new, and yet somehow still familiar, perspective of the area she had always called home. From her vantage point, even the highest peaks of Castle Amanda that dwarfed its neighbors looked tiny and insignificant. Though as she considered the building, her thoughts turned to earlier that day.

Everything he said was real…I’m Omni-Woman now. This must be how it happened to Princess-- no, just regular Amanda, too…only she wasn’t lucky enough to read a character as overwhelmingly strong as me.

With far more insight now on the situation than she had before, she felt as if she couldn’t wait until tomorrow’s lessons to talk more with Mark. Having not risked taking her fragile human phone in her significantly more durable alien attire, she darted home, appearing instantly back inside her room through the open window. Pulling his number from the email he had sent, she shot him a message.

[This is Lisa. I need to talk to you. The comic thing. I just read one. Where are you?]

The response took a few minutes to come back, just long enough for her to take a quick step outside and vibrate herself fast enough to burn away any extra dust or dirt that had gotten on her uniform. The extraterrestrial material was surprisingly easy to clean, and soon looked back in mint condition as she returned inside to find a line of concerned texts waiting for her.

[Oh no what happened?]

[Um, here’s my address.]

[Or do you need me to meet you there]

[Lisa? Are you okay?]

[I’m going to head there. I’m so sorry if anything bad happened]

Lisa sighed. For probably the first time ever in her career, Omni-Woman had been too slow for something. Fixing the issue was simple though. Taking note of the address Mark had sent, she blinked out of her room and into his driveway, her incomprehensible speed making the mile and a half journey virtually instantaneous.

“Mark! Don’t worry, I’m fine!”

Mark had only just gotten onto his bike to begin heading to Lisa’s house when he was startled by a bold female voice calling out to him from just above. He craned his neck up rapidly to see the source, nearly falling off the seat, and saw the smiling amazonian heroine hovering just a few feet over the pavement. He tossed the bike aside onto his lawn, walking over to her slowly in disbelief.

“O-Omni-Woman?”

“That’s me! Or I guess I might as well stick with just Lisa for now.”

“Well, err, I’m honored you came to visit, but I have to go help a friend in trou-- wait…Did you just say Lisa?”

Omni-Woman nodded.

“…That can’t be right…Lisa said she just read a comic and changed TODAY. You’ve been around for years now and…and…”

Having now experienced this cognitive dissonance of altered reality twice now, it was far easier for Mark’s mind to wrap his mind around what was going on. Recalling how he had brought the comic collection to a meeting earlier today with a suspiciously statuesque local artist, memories from years ago of him creating this invincible half-alien superhero came flooding back, and soon he undoubtedly knew he must be the author of the whole situation.

“You’re Lisa…Omni-Woman’s alter-ego…You…read a comic today and now everything is changed…again.” Mark’s expression sank as he knew deep down that what he just said had to have been correct. “Oh my god are you alright? I am so, so sorry you had to go through this. It’s all my fault and now your life is completely different and--”

Lisa descended to the ground, standing on her two legs and having to bend over a bit to meet the six-foot-one Mark face to face. She put a heavy, gloved hand on his shoulder and smiled warmly.

“Mark…this is AMAZING. I mean, sure you didn’t make me the most creative and innovative character out there, but being this overpowered is just…fun! I’m incredible! I can fly, never be harmed, have all these elemental abilities, and I mean just LOOK at this body! I never even DREAMED of looking this good.”

Mark didn’t need to be told to have been looking at that last part, he had always found the superheroine’s impressive figure to be quite the attention grabber whenever she appeared on the news.

“I take it that means you- the real you that is, didn’t always look this way?”

“Yeah. I mean, I was hardly Quasimodo but still, huuuge improvement.” She rolled her shoulders, her firm arms tensing as she hefted her ample chest with a wink. “In a whole bunch of ways, if you catch my meaning.”

As much as Mark would have loved to just continue admiring, something was eating at him.

“So let me get this straight. Before you read that comic, I’m assuming there weren't any superheroes, or random monster attacks, or I guess really anything like that?”

“Nothing other than you creating a giant castle in the middle of nowhere USA. The real reality was just as boring as ever.”

A vastly daunting sense of scale sunk into his stomach.

“I knew my comics had some sort of power, but I had no idea it could make things that are so…impossible. Like, a castle is one thing, but to create something like YOU…er, no offense…”

“…Has potential? No offense taken. These reality warps don’t just bend the rules, they BREAK them. My powers are so far from realistic it's unbelievable, and yet, here I am. You have a gift. I don’t know how you can do the things you can do with your art, but with your abilities and my strength, we can make the world a better place, together. That’s why I wanted to see you tonight. Lemme show you something- if that’s alright, that is.”

“Umm, sure?”

With far more enthusiasm than his response, Lisa took into the air again, feeling more at home above the ground than on her two legs as she turned a blind eye towards gravity. She swooped behind him, and hooked under his legs with an arm, swiftly and effortlessly hoisting him into a seated position on her broad shoulder. Reaching for the nearest thing to anchor himself on, Mark reflexively gripped her hair out of panic, worried he would lose his balance. Her other arm moved to rest over his lap, however, and he soon felt secure in his position.Even with her delicate conduct, he could feel the immeasurable strength contained beneath her skin and realized that he likely couldn’t have fallen free from her embrace even if he wanted to.

He hardly even realized as they began ascending at an incredible speed, Lisa’s superhuman body cleaving straight through the air and her power over it pushing all turbulence to the side. Even the city lights quickly became indistinguishable as they pushed higher, and soon was lost along countless others as his field of vision expanded over the state, then country, then the entire continent, all in such a quick succession that he knew that they were likely going far faster than any rocket ever had. So in awe was he by seeing the planet he knew and had lived his entire life on that he was taken once again by surprise when they came to a stop and he was set back down on a hard piece of rock.

Lisa, flying over him, blew a kiss, and the small pocket that had surrounded them during their flight inflated for several yards in each direction into a perfect dome of breathable, room-temperature air. Mark looked around at the white craters and shadowy cracks that dotted the ground, and if only to confirm that what was happening was no illusion, he picked up a nearby rock and tossed it, watching as it fell slowly back down.

“I’m on the moon. The MOON. I- I…”

He was at a loss for words. Lisa simply continued flipping through the air, only staying in the air bubble for the purpose of being able to talk.

“My memory is telling me I’ve been way further than just the moon before, but yeah, it’s quite something, isn’t it? I can just DO this now, and it’s all thanks to you. Giving you a one-of-a-kind vacation was the least I could do after not believing you earlier today.”

Flying outside of the bubble with not so much as a shiver to indicate that she had entered the inhospitable cold vacuum of space, she raised a hand, and a shuddering shockwave spread across the lunar surface, kicking up a cloud of dust that had been untouched for countless millennia. Another sweeping movement of her arm sent the dust swirling into a single spot, and under the intense heat of a well controlled laser eye blast, were smelted into a single perfect milky sphere about the size of softball. Re-entering the bubble, she tossed the immaculate stone over to the awestruck Mark, who was able to catch it far easier than he would have expected, though he figured that was due to the lower gravity.

“Here- a little souvenir so you can tell your friends.”

Seeing her powers wasn’t too far beyond anything he hadn’t in theory already watched on TV before, but there was something different and inspiring about experiencing it in person, that when combined with her infectious enthusiasm towards showing off, made his heart simply melt.

“Wow, thank you…god you’re-- I mean, it’s beautiful…”

He hadn’t really even meant to say that second half, the statement little more than a fleeting thought with a small breath behind it, but Lisa’s super senses couldn’t help but pick the tiny whisper up. She was sure Omni-Woman had been called that many times before, but she knew she hadn’t ever REALLY heard those words herself..

“…You really think so?”    

“Sorry, I don’t know why I just blurted that out I mean I do think that you are but really I--”

Lisa wasn’t quite sure if a superspeed kiss, appearing lips-to-cheek faster than Mark could even stammer out another word, was at all something fitting for a romantic moment. After all, relationships had been something she had avoided for most of her life, but now seemed different. She was Omni-Woman now, and if she had the strength to take on anything the world could throw at her, a kiss hardly seemed all that scary anymore. Brimming with reinforced esteem, she broke off the kiss and floated back out in front of him.

“Mark, you know I’ve always admired you as well, right?”

Mark looked skeptical, as if he wanted to avoid enjoying the kiss as much as he clearly had.

“Really? That’s not like, the comic speaking, is it? I’m not sure if I could accept your feelings if I had just written Omni-Woman to fall in love in some sort of author insert. I feel bad enough I’ve messed with your body, but your mind…?”

Lisa smiled lovingly.

“Nope, this has always been me- only thing I got out of this whole ordeal is the kick in the pants to finally say it. I mean what I said before- I’m gonna teach you art, we’ll get Amanda back to normal, and then working together there’ll be nothing we can’t accomplish.”

Mark had no actual evidence to support believing her, but in that moment he knew it was truer than anything their strange altered reality could have put together. Worries easing away, he gently held the continent-shattering hand of his new girlfriend, and stood on his toes to return the kiss.

“Let’s do it.”

***

When the young couple eventually returned to Earth for a well earned night’s rest before attempting to take on the new challenges to come, a lone female figure stood high on her balcony, gazing into the night sky at the brilliant streak of light that trailed the two like a comet as they descended to their sleepy suburban home. Her head burned, furious as something tickled the back of her mind and yet she couldn’t quite place her finger on what it was. The Pink Princess loudly clacked her heels on the pristine marble floors and returned inside to her living quarters, where her father was watching football. Clearing her throat, she demanded the room’s attention, the jewels on her rose-colored dress making the walls shimmer, it’s illustriousness only matched by her perfectly styled wavy blonde hair that shone like pure liquid gold.

“What do you know about Omni-Woman?”

Immediately muting the television in respect for her majesty, he rubbed his chin.

“Well, she’s an alien, has near-infinite superpowers, and defeats monsters that seem to show up every week or so- were you looking for something specific or…?”

 “Do we know her real name?”

“No, my lady. She doesn’t appear in any of our records.”

“Has our military ever reached out to her in order to discuss some form of alliance? Clearly she would be a fantastic addition.”

“No, my lady.”

“And what about these monsters? You saw tonight’s news. A common criminal became a dangerous monster simply by coming in contact with ordinary industrial chemicals- an occurrence that has become frighteningly common here in Blackwillow, and ONLY in Blackwillow. Who knows how much damage it could have caused had Omni-Woman not showed up? Have we ever considered researching these mutations in order to prevent more of such incidents?”

“No, my lady.”

“And…!? Don’t you think that’s strange? Complete anomalies do as they please around MY kingdom and no effort has been made to take control of the situation!”

Her father cowered in the wake of her authoritative anger.

“I-I apologize, your majesty. I will speak to the council at once to begin implementing these measures if that is your will. I didn’t realize matters relating to Omni-Woman were of such concern to you- it's just, well…that’s the way it’s always been.”

That’s the way it’s always been.

Amanda had heard those words before. Just in the past week, when her personal physician assured her that the notion of her being transformed from an ordinary student into a princess by a reality-warping comic book was the stuff of fiction. She had always been a princess, and her thinking otherwise was said to be a symptom that the pressures her position of power had put upon her. She had proceeded to start believing them, her memories now filled with a lifetime of privilege, and was content to happily continue living that role had it not been for the growing list of contradictions as they continued to pile up. Her father’s ominously obedient words merely confirmed what she always knew. Reality had been altered to fit her ascension to power, and while she couldn’t tell when, it must had happened again to create Omni-Woman.

It all led back to the same source- Mark Angelo. If his comics had the ability to create both of these monumental figures, who knew how much more potential he had stored away in his collection?

And more importantly, why wasn’t I the one given such incredible powers…

This injustice would not stand. Mark was her subject, and therefore as Princess, those powers were hers by right. A clear path of action, simple and efficient, formed in her mind.

“Father, call in my elite knights, and reach out to Sarah and Jenny. There is business we must attend to.”

As much as he would have liked to have finished watching the game, Amanda’s word was law. Her father immediately stood up from his armchair with a bow, and left to assemble the troops.

***

Mark left the following morning at 9:30, tearing out of the driveway on his bike as fast as he could in eager anticipation of the first art lesson with his new girlfriend. Taking the suburban sidewalks, he couldn’t help but notice that the Princess’s royal company of knights were particularly active that morning, perhaps even suspiciously so, but his excitement for the day to come had earned him little sleep the previous night. With so many ideas rushing through his mind, he failed to see the antiquated, plate-armored figures call one another over walkie-talkies as he passed by, and begin closing in on his house once he was out of their sight.

One short raid later, the knights had returned to Castle Amanda, entering the throne room before the name-bearing royalty herself. It was with venomous glee that she watched as the captain of the guard laid down a cardboard box before her and slashed open the top with a knife, all the while looking away from the contents within as instructed.

Finally, it was hers.

She dismissed the company, leaving the room empty save for herself, and two other young women her age. In truth they were simply Sarah Damon and Jenny Du, two of Amanda’s high school buddies, but they, as was the case with many people in Blackwillow, had been changed by the Pink Princess as well, taking on the roles of some of the comic’s minor characters and becoming royal advisors to the throne.

Sarah, formerly a cheerleader, looked at the box with disgust, tossing back her bright red hair.

“THIS is what you were all excited about? A stupid box?”

Jenny, always more patient and willing to listen, as befitting her quiet, nerdy nature, wasn’t as quick to judge.

“She said it had something to do with Omni-Woman; it’s probably important!”

The Princess stood from the throne with a sigh.

“…Thank you Jenny. If you’d allow me to explain, this ‘stupid box’ holds a series of comic books that can warp the reader, and the entire world around them, into characters of unimaginable power- for example, say, Omni-Woman.”

Both women gasped, but Sarah tried to hide her expression, quickly retaining her skepticism.

“Right- don’t we ALL know she’s a half alien though? There’s no WAY her powers came from some comic b--”

Amanda had seen this coming. Always the cynic, Sarah’s conservative nature could be helpful as an advisor, but also had its annoyances. Not wanting to waste any more time, she had decided to take the top book off the boxed pile, and as Sarah was complaining, hold it directly in her line of sight. Making sure not to look at it first, once Sarah trailed off as she read the panels in confusion, Amanda allowed herself to look at what title she had just shoved in her friend’s face. As was the young Mark’s trademark it seemed, yet again there was a female figure on the cover, with a title that immediately gave away the character’s name.

The Realm of the Dream Demon.

Eyes locked on her friend, Amanda watched with a laser focus on any changes that occurred. She didn’t have to wait long though, and in a matter of seconds the colors of her skin and hair had swapped and amplified, her body flushing with a deep cherry red and her locks turning a pure white. Two horns sprouted from her forehead, curving in almost complete semi-circles before ending in devilishly sharp points. Her clothes shriveled, tightening close to her body in leathery straps as great wings of the same material sprung from her back. The color of her eyes melted, pupils oozing until the whites were entirely swallowed by black, and new, glowing purple irises emerged over darkened sclera.

The Dream Demon smiled, sharpened teeth revealing themselves beneath. Amanda felt the comic book rise out of her hand, despite nobody else laying a single hand upon it. All around the room, other pieces of furniture began moving in direct opposition to gravity, slowly orbiting around Sarah’s new form as she began with malevolent glee.

“Well…it seems I owe you an apology…” 

Amanda could not have been more overjoyed. Not only was her theory about the comic books entirely true, but she had already made herself a tremendously powerful telekinetic ally.

“I’ll accept your apology, provided I have your continued loyalty, that is. Jenny, why don’t you help yourself as well…”

Despite still having some reservations, Jenny still eagerly began looking into the box. Regardless of the fact that it was her Princess’s orders, the idea of becoming empowered like some of her favorite comic and anime characters was too intriguing to give any consideration to the danger these books might hold. She decided to again simply take the top one off the stack, and upon looking at the cover, was greeted by not one, but many female figures, and a title befitting of such an army: Multiplica-tron.

Her skin instantly began buzzing with energy, as her flesh and blood became an intricate construct of bio-metals and circuitry. Her heart beat with electric pulses, and just as soon as she ran her hands over her new, chrome-like skin, another set joined just beside them. However, not only were there two pairs of hands, but these new appendages were attached to a second body that had materialized besides the first, identical in every way, and both sharing the exact same consciousness that already had begun bursting with ideas on how her clone-generation abilities could be put to use. Giggling in stereo with a slightly autotuned voice, Jenny’s shyer reservation completely vanished as she willed a third body into existence and stood the trio of herself in a perfect line to address their majesty.

“Princess…this new form is incredible! What are your plans now that Sarah and I have received these pow--…Princess…?” 

The Princess, however, was no longer interested in the developments of her newly-empowered friends. Their role as test subjects to ensure the comics worked the way she anticipated was complete, and therefore their usefulness now expired. If anything, she was upset that they had wasted two particularly powerful abilities on themselves- abilities that, like all the others in the collection, belonged to HER. Amanda ripped the box completely open. Books fell scattered to the floor, and her head darted around to ensure that she got the first glimpse of all of them. She picked them up two at a time, one per hand, flipping through the sheets as fast as she could just long enough to absorb the overall gist of the character within before tossing it aside and moving on to the next.

The marble floors of the palace began to shake, stone cracking and reforming as its owner began expanding into more and more roles, and with it, so did the world around her. Sarah and Jenny began to look concerned, their minds clearing of some of the subservient haze that had filled them. While the woman before them still appeared as their Princess, their perception of her began oscillating.

Her presence demanded fear. Love. Respect. Hate. Loyalty.

Princess Amanda was their ruler. Galactic Overlord Amanda aimed to conquer them all. Crystal Dragonkin Amanda was their friend; High Sorceress Amanda their enemy. Her castle home was all at once her starship, her cavern, her temple. Identities began compounding, stories clashing and contradicting angrily as dozens of characters were forced into one, all-encompassing entity.

“Jen…we gotta go.” 

Jenny looked slowly up towards Sarah from the vortex of powers and personas consuming her friend. As much as she wanted to stay and help, she knew it was far too dangerous. Dematerializing her two clones, she watched as the mutating brickwork was effortlessly disassembled by Sarah’s telekinetic mastery, opening a hole for which the two could hover out to safety. Lifted by the Demon’s mind, Jenny watched the castle fade into the distance as they fled, its familiar towers beginning to distort into themselves, infected with electronic lights and twisting roots as their forms became impossible to discern. Her heart sank, her new powers suddenly seeming infantesimal in the face of this new creation.

“Sarah…what are we going to do?”

Her succubus-esque friend wracked her brain, before slowly dawning on one desperate possibility.

“Well, if what Amanda said was true, there’s one other person who used those comic books…”   

***

“Alright, that’s looking good. Remember that the legs are usually over three heads in terms of proportions. It always feels like you’re making them too long when you’re just starting out, but if you don’t they’ll look stumpy.”  

Mark appreciated the constructive criticism. Lisa was a good teacher, and even after only an hour of figure drawings he felt like he was in the right mindset to make great strides in his drawing. The fact his subject was a stunningly beautiful amazon was just the icing on the cake. Naturally, not a single one of these poses were standing, not when she had the ability to fly and preferred to do so whenever she could.

He set aside the photocopied sheet full of mannequin-esque sketches. Their first task had been to figure out how to critique drawings that had power over those who looked at them, but fortunately their first idea for a solution turned out to work just fine. Running a drawing of a pink-haired Lisa through the scanner and showing the copy to his teacher, they determined that only the originals seemed to possess Mark’s curious ability when after five minutes of looking, her hair didn’t change color in the slightest.

“Should I still be doing the same thing on the next sheet?”

Lisa slowly rotated through the air, swinging her legs over into a hovering splits position in order to give him extra practice with those particular limbs. Fortunately, her well-built body was just as flexible as it was fit, and the Omni-Woman bodysuit she was wearing didn’t hinder her range of movement in the slightest.

“Yep, you’d better get used to most of these lessons being practice if you want to make any REAL progress. Maybe I’ll let you try a nude figure drawing once you get the hang of proportions. It’ll be your reward for all your hard work…”

However, before Mark could put his freshly sharpened pencil to the page, the doorbell rang. Looking up, he saw Lisa already having changed into casual clothing at light speed before nonchalantly walking up to the door. Such normalcy was unnecessary though, as standing on the front porch was another woman far more bizarre looking than the costumed superhero had.

Not only was Lisa being visited by a silvery, ponytailed robot, but so was everyone else on the street it seemed. As far as the eye could see, identical clones of Jenny were ringing on doorbells, checking to see who lived there. Seeing that she had found someone who quite obviously shared the appearance of who she was looking for, the clone closest to Lisa spoke up.

“You’re Omni-Woman, correct?” Only receiving a shocked nod of disbelief, Jenny gave a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness, I knew you probably lived around here, and, well, there’s only so many seven foot tall superwomen in Blackwillow. Figured one of me would find you eventually!”

Hearing the conversation, Mark had come to the door as well.

“And you are…?”

Jenny would have blushed if she had blood to do so.

“Oh, sorry. I’m Multipat-- Mulpic-- Multplic-- god my name is hard to pronounce. It’s me, Jenny, remember? One of Amanda’s friends? From high school?”

Having become all too accustomed to the concept, simply being told they had shared a school was enough for Mark and Lisa to break through the memory alteration, knowing that their former classmate likely hadn’t always been an artificial intelligence.

“You read a comic, didn’t you.”

Jenny nodded gravely.

“Oh good, you know about those. Princess Amanda got her hand on a whole box of them and started reading them out of control and Sarah can barely hold her off and- and…”

As Jenny was interrupted by a thundering crash off in the distance, Lisa didn’t need to hear any more details to know that they were in trouble and it was up to her to save the day. In another blink of the eye, she was back in costume.

“Alright, I’ll see what I can do. Mark, we’ll continue the lesson once I’m back.”

Mark knew firsthand just how capable Omni-Woman was, but something about the situation began to gnaw at him with concern. For his entire comic collection to have been stolen, he could scarcely imagine the amount of potential the Princess had acquired in such a short time. Amanda’s name seemed to resonate within him, the very act of trying to picture the princess in his mind flooding his mind with disparate thoughts.

“Are you sure you got this Lisa?”

Lisa simply gave a cover-worthy smile.

“Of course I do, I’m Omni-Woman! There’s nothing I can’t handle, you made it that way!”

***

Swiftly flying in the direction of the sounds of conflict, Lisa soon got a look at what she was to deal with. What was once Castle Amanda had fractured into a dizzying complex of concepts, its former medieval style now intersecting in countless ways with a number of other structures and vehicles. Organic, technologic, and antiquated, it loomed ominously over the puny town of Blackwillow, swallowing miles of land beneath in its shadows and shrouding the land in blood-red clouds as bolts of raw energy cut deep scars into the ground below. A purple aura seemed to cling to the structure, but upon close inspection this magical glow seemed not to come from the building itself, but a small figure flying beside it. Sarah, in her newly demonified form, was exerting her telekinetic mastery in order to keep Castle Amanda rooted in place and prevent the chaos from spreading any further.

With super senses, Lisa gazed upwards towards the very top of the monolithic stronghold. Another figure gazed down from its peak, unmoving and seemingly unfazed by the psychic attack being performed on her base. She quickly averted her gaze. Even LOOKING at Amanda seemed to give her a headache. Temples throbbing, Lisa couldn’t even tell what she had looked at. She knew she had seen someone of immense beauty, but found herself hard-pressed to describe even a single feature about her to back up that claim. Did she have wings? Glowing eyes? Bejeweled clothing? Lisa’s memory gave contradicting reports, seeming to recall Amanda possessing all and yet none of those traits.

It’s fine, I’m stronger than anything else that could be thrown my way. I could beat her with my eyes closed if that’s what it takes…

Below her, one of the countless Jenny clones still roaming the neighborhood shouted up to her friend.

“Sarah, I found her! Omni-Woman is here to help!”

The demonic ex-cheerleader shouted back in exhaustion.

“About time! I’m not sure how much longer I can hold this thing in place!”

Jenny turned to Lisa.

“I’ll help Sarah, can you try to get through to Amanda?”

Lisa nodded in response, and the two began enacting their rudimentary strategy. Servos humming, dozens of Jennys began materializing at a rapid, industrial pace. Assembling alongside their already substantial numbers from the neighborhood, the robotic army began piling atop one another, interlocking limbs and constructing a gigantic pair of towers that soon were connected into what was clearly a set of legs. More and more Jennys joined the construction effort, and in little under a minute, they had formed themselves into an oversized scale model of her base form, easily the size of a skyscraper. With the castle’s energy beams reflecting harmlessly off of her metallic frame, the mega-Jenny began grappling the floating structure, locking it in place and easing the mental strain off of Sarah as they shared the burden.

Lisa saw her opportunity, and began strafing the castle, spiraling up its height and blasting every surface with every possible element she could think of. The castle was assaulted by spires of ice, bolts of lightning, fires that raged hotter than the center of the Earth, all spiraling together into the heroine’s trademark Omni-ray- and yet all her attacks merely fizzled harmlessly off the misshapen materials it was made of.

A force field that blocks everything…figures. A kid did make it after all…

Lisa knew she had to deal with the root of this madness. Abandoning the castle altogether, she soared up to the top, hesitantly approaching the menacing presence Amanda emitted, her gaze deflected away as she could barely bring herself to confront her raw magnificence.

“Amanda…please…you gotta control yourself!” 

A sharp discordance flooded her ears. Amanda’s voice jeered, raged, cheered, and despaired in response. Words crossed in her mind, merging and intersecting until they had lost any meaning, before distilling into a single declaration.

I AM SUPERIOR.

The compounding Amanda lifted one of its indeterminate number of limbs, and Lisa was blown away by a raw kinetic force, launched several miles into the distance. Regaining control of her flight, she made back that ground in an instant and delivered a single, unrestricted punch, directly into the core of Amanda’s being. Summer extended by a week as the Earth’s axis tilted by a degree from the sheer kickback of her strike, but Amanda didn’t budge. Aware of the damage she had caused, Lisa closed her eyes and tackled Amanda, who put up no resistance as she accelerated them both faster and faster until they had relocated deep into the asteroid belt, far from the fragile Earth. Lisa punched again and again, each blow as strong as the first as the shockwaves crushed the cosmic stone around her, permanently shattering a hole in the ring.

Perhaps it could have worked. Perhaps if she was only battling the Crystal Dragonkin, with its unbreakable scales, or the Inky Terrorbeast with its infinite regeneration. Perhaps if Amanda’s strength wasn’t just as infinite, or her speed just as instantaneous.

Perhaps Omni-Woman very well could have overcome any of those possibilities, but all of them at once?

Growing bored of Omni-Woman’s futile struggles, High Sorceress Amanda summoned a small blade of void energy into her hand, and carelessly flicked it in Lisa’s direction, catching her by the arm with a shard of absolute emptiness that left a small cut in what should have been uncuttable.

YOU WILL SUBMIT.

Lisa knew she was outmatched. Without a word, she fled the asteroid belt, unpursued by an uncaring Amanda as she made her way back to Earth. She returned to her home, opening the door with relief as she saw Mark still unharmed inside.

“We gotta go. She’s too strong. Maybe we can hide on another planet, do more lessons until you’re able to figure out something that can beat her…”

While Lisa almost broke down in tears of frustration, Mark’s expression remained opaque, devoid of hope or worry as he slowly handed out a single, folded piece of paper. The house was quiet, save for the far off crashes as Sarah and Jenny both began to falter in their struggles against Amanda’s all-powerful castle. Lisa regained her composure as she noticed the paper, and picking up on the que, delicately removed it from his hands between two fingers.

“What…is this another photocopy?”

Mark shook his head as Lisa flipped the paper over, whatever content was inside still unable to be seen.

“…Are you sure you’re okay with whatever’s about to happen? I never got a chance to teach you everything you wanted to know…”

Cutting her off with a hug of reassurance that unintentionally put his face at a rather convenient height on her body, he lightened the room with a smile, and for a moment, their doom seemed ever less inevitable.

“Given that it’s you? Absolutely.”   

Lisa returned the hug with her powerful arms, and then without breaking contact raised her hands to her face and slowly uncreased the drawing. Her breath cut out, gasping at what she saw.

“O-Oh…Oh my g--”

A light burst in the room; radiance filled the house, the neighborhood, the world. From the depths of space Amanda merely watched as pure white enveloped the Earth, and began expanding to the universe beyond. Growing exponentially, the white passed over her, and everything faded away into silence.

***

The warm morning sun shone over Mark’s shoulders as he rode his bike through the suburbs of Blackwillow. Hearing an engine behind him, he pulled over to the sidewalk, but then put on the brakes as he heard his name. Looking behind, he watched as an old, beat-up sports car pulled up beside him, and the window rolled down to reveal a familiar face. Amanda smiled from the driver’s seat behind her choppy brownish-blonde haircut, with Sarah and Jenny behind her and all remaining space in the car taken up by dozens of tightly-packed suitcases.

“Hey Mark! I wasn’t sure if I would get to see you today!”

Mark clapped his hand to his forehead; he had almost forgotten the day.

“Oh my god I’m so sorry, I wanted to see you guys off! Good luck at college!”

“No problem dude. I just wish you could have still come with us. I know your new job is important, but still- we’re all going to miss you!”

“Yeah, me too. I’ll be sure to write often!”

“I was counting on it!”

Revving back up the noisy engine, the car peeled off into the distance, bidding Mark farewell with a playful honk on the horn. Stepping back on the pedals, he passed by the driveway of 7103 Maple, where Amanda’s father was picking up the newspaper in his bathrobe and greeted Mark with a friendly wave. Continuing further, he eventually came to a stop and parked his bike in front of 7124 Maple, flipping out the kickstand as he knocked on the front door of the unassuming house. Instantly, the door opened without a sound, and he stepped inside.

“Hey Lisa! I’m here! Just stopped to say goodbye to Amanda before heading over!”

Door closing behind him, his voice echoed in the infinite white void he found himself inside, with only a staircase in front of him to give any sort of physical context to the great nothingness all around him. No response came, as was often the case. Lisa always did give a great deal of attention to her craft.

Walking up the stairs with a whistle, Mark watched as black lines began drifting throughout the white abyss, curling and intersecting, shading and detailing as all manners of fantastic objects and creatures were sketched into existence. With no shadows or background, he could hardly tell how big or how far anything was, but it was enjoyable all the same to watch these constructs of pure imagination dance about before fading back into the blank sheet of endless possibility.

Eventually, he reached the top of the flight, and Lisa was at her normal spot, sitting midair beside a floating golden tablet at a desk of pure alabaster, a pen of dark matter in hand as she let her hand fly over the surface. The black lines all around them copied her motions perfectly as she willed her creations out of her mind, and into reality. Humming in a crystalline, angelic voice, Lisa was in her own little world, the fabric of her liquid-smooth robes spilling off her body in waves, covering her elegantly, yet still accentuating her shape with gold ornamentation and allowing some of her sculpturesque physique to be seen underneath, smooth and perfect like burnished bronze. Her rippling back muscles adjusted themselves with her every breath, causing the massive pair of feathered wings that now sprouted from her back to rise and fall with the heft of her torso. A crowned halo meanwhile hovered just behind her head, with ornate patterns spiraling into ever smaller fractals until disappearing into pinpricks of heavenly light. Mark politely cleared his throat.

“Hey Lisa~”

Lisa jumped in surprise. She was only all knowing when she wanted to be all knowing, and she definitely had let her mind wander when drawing. With a wave of her hand the pen and tablet folded out of existence. She herself then disappeared as well, but then instantly reappeared by Mark’s side to give him a kiss.

“Hey babe, sorry…was a little carried away with an idea and didn’t notice you coming in…”

“Heh, no worries, it's easy to lose track of one tiny assistant in an infinite space!” 

“Yeah…I gotta get this place spruced up a little bit.”

Snapping her fingers, the white void went dark as a vast night sky surrounded them, with brilliant stars and nebulas accenting the black with swirls of light and color. Lisa outstretched her arms, and a galaxy began forming between them. In the void of space, she still looked close enough to kiss as she had earlier, with the celestial body in her palms only the size of a beach ball, but he knew by now that it was surely full size. With her standing behind it, Lisa must have then been several thousand light-years tall and several times that amount away from him, but as she resumed speaking, he could still hear her clear as day.

“…I was thinking of making a little place just for us. I’m still getting used to this whole ‘creator’ thing, had the idea of going on a bit of a honeymoon while I finish getting set up.”

“Finish? How long do you expect it to take?”

“A thousand years, maybe two. I put a bunch of cool stuff in this galaxy and I can always create more if we want to…”

Mark smiled. He was a very lucky man.

“I always enjoy what you make. That sounds great.”

Lisa flapped her wings with pride, each spanning several times her body length. A door appeared in her palm and in a few seconds, the entirety of the cosmos was absorbed into it, leaving them back at the top of the stairs in the empty white. She returned to what she liked as her normal size, a modest six feet, and gently took Mark’s hand in her own as they began heading for the door. Leaving behind her celestial desk, she took one last look at an inconspicuous piece of paper, practically invisible alongside her black hole erasers and antimatter brushes.

It had been left unfolded, but the drawing it contained no longer contained any power. Despite that, Lisa always kept it with her, a reminder of the amazing series of events that had led to her new existence as god. The artwork was still rough and unfinished, but the artist clearly loved his subject well enough to accurately capture her likeness. On one side of the page, there was an image of a caped woman, being handed a small comic book by a pair of hands off-page. On the other, the same woman sat, pencil in hand, drawing the scene on the first. The artist had been given a loving smile, painstakingly rendered over her face as she drew her own story in pristine stillness.

A final note rested at the bottom of the page, hastily scribbled in by the artist in the final moments of the reality he feared he had undone.

Lisa, you’ll do great. Love you always. Mark.

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