He unclipped the Wiffle bat from his belt, and tiptoed along the rooftop. It wasn’t a particularly stealthy maneuver for a man of his size, but the probability variances of his secondary hypothesis were contracting which meant stealth wasn’t necessarily the most—
The heat rushed him from behind. Then the roar of the flames. Mad Smart spun and twisted the dial on the end of the Wiffle bat until it glowed blue. A spherical plasma shield shot out from the barrel of the bat and enveloped him, absorbing the stream of fire before it reached him. The flames continued, a whooshing meteor burning in his blue plasma atmosphere, but Mad Smart stood his ground. Then the flames were gone.
The woman stepped from the shadows, clutching the flamethrower nozzle near her hip. Mad Smart lowered his Wiffle bat. “You’re out,” he said.
The woman scoffed. “What’s that? Some kind of superhero Wiffle ball pun?”
“What? Oh. No, I mean you’re out of fuel. See, I estimated the size of your fuel tanks and superimposed a modified expiratory flow volume curve to determine the maximum duration of—“
Flames shot out of the flamethrower again, and once again Mad Smart raised the Wiffle bat plasma shield just in time. Their standoff lasted several more seconds before the woman cut the stream. “Spare tank,” she said. She slipped off the shoulder straps and the flamethrower tanks clanked on the rooftop. “Now I’m out.”
Mad Smart lowered the Wiffle bat and the plasma shield disappeared. “Who are you?”
Striding confidently toward him, she said, “Experimental Inferno."
She smiled. “I like to… try things.”
Mad Smart straightened, rising to his full height. “I should warn you, I’ve already calculated the effect of your perfume—which I suspect contains a bremelanotide derivative—and I’ve nullified any repeat scenarios by enhancing my own levels of—“
Inferno rushed forward, took his face between her hands and kissed him, long and slow. Mad Smart swayed, his eyes losing and regaining and losing focus again and again and again until, at last, his legs gave out and he feinted.
* * *
Inferno retrieved the flamethrower while the helicopter swung into position. A sling thawumped on the rooftop nearby, and she rolled the unconscious Mad Smart Pirate into it. Then she climbed into the sling next to him and flashed the OK signal. The helicopter rose high above the orange glow of Ahno’ma Topia City and disappeared into the night.
To be continued…