What crazy world have I ended up in this time?!
The thought ran across Mandy’s mind as she watched the Superior Leader’s guards rush for her. All that prevented them from carrying out his kill command was the savagely disfigured gentleman that the Superior Leader called their “missing link.”
Mandy had no idea who he was or where he came from, which prompted her to ask Clarence, “Where did our new friend come from?”
“He helped me get you your new face,” Clarence said. “His name’s ‘Darkman’ and he’s a superhero!”
“I’ll say he is,” Mandy observed. “He just saved my butt!”
Mandy, Clarence, and the Darkman escaped the Superior Leader’s domain and Superior City altogether. The Darkman disposed of any resistance along the way, though it was no question there would be more coming in pursuit of them.
“Where’s my T.A.R.D.I.S.?” Mandy asked.
“It’s in a village with all these beautiful-lookin’ people,” Clarence told her. “I know where it is – follow me!”
“What is all of this?” The Darkman inquired. “What in God’s name is going on?!”
“Short version: I’m a thousand-year-old alien from another dimension who travels with an 8-year-old in a giant domino that’s bigger on the inside,” Mandy hastily explained.
The Darkman scoffed. “Surprisingly, that makes more sense than anything else I’ve been through in the last few hours.”
The village Clarence spoke of was not far from the city.
On foot, he brought them there in less than an hour.
Mandy saw an attractive man waiting for them; someone Clarence identified by the name of “Walter,” as soon as they approached him.
“You disobeyed me, Clarence,” he scolded. “You went to the city without permission or a guide.”
“Never mind all of that,” Mandy told him. “There are a bunch of pig-faced weirdoes that’ll be comin’ here real soon!”
Walter disconcertedly frowned. “You mean the Superiors?”
“Whatever it is you wanna call them,” Mandy said. “They’re on their way!”
Smith turned to a gathering of villagers that congregated as soon as Mandy, Clarence, and the Darkman arrived. “Everyone,” he addressed them. “A slight issue has occurred: the Superiors are coming to the village.” His message invoked anxiety among the villagers. “Now, there’s no need to panic. But I do encourage you all to return to your homes, while I take care of the Superiors myself.”
None of the villagers retreated on Walter’s insistence – not even Janet Tyler.
“We’re standing with you,” she vowed.
A moment later, the Superiors disembarked with their leader, as well as Dr. Douglas, in tow. They were met by an intimidating crowd of Inferiors, all of whom brandished faces of defiance.
The Superior Leader refused to back down. “Let us have our missing link, and we’ll disappear like a nightmare before the breaking day,” he demanded, gesturing directly to Westlake.
“Shove it up your @$$,” the Darkman retorted.
“I admire your tenacity,” the Superior Leader stated. “That’ll be the first thing I eradicate once we have set your mind right and make you believe in our cause.”
“And what cause is that?” Mandy challenged. “Totalitarianism? Racism?”
“We don’t expect an ugly thing like you to understand what we stand for,” the Superior Leader snapped.
“You take that back,” Clarence shouted. “The only ugly thing here is you!”
The 8-year-old’s words drew ire from the Superior Leader, who ordered his men, “Take the missing link by force!”
Walter and his people stood firm, maintaining a protective wall around Westlake.
“Neither you nor your government have control over this village,” Walter asserted. “If you break the truce, there will be war.”
Douglas, growing nervous by the minute, recommended to his Superior Leader, “Perhaps we should leave…w-while we still have our lives.”
“I will not be bullied by Inferiors!”
Infuriated, the Superior Leader snatched a gun from one of his guards, taking aim at Walter.
“If it’s war, so be it!”
“NO!” Westlake growled, pushing past the wall of protective villagers.
He leapt in front of Walter, taking a bullet to the shoulder, which he did not feel at all with his immunity to pain. Neither did it stop him, as he grabbed the frightened Superior Leader by his head and twisted it one-eighty degrees, snapping his neck and killing him.
The act of violence horrified everyone on both Superior and Inferior sides.
Even Mandy had to shield Clarence’s view of it with her body, not wishing for his innocence to be tainted.
After their shock had worn away, Douglas and the guards bowed to Westlake.
“You have overthrown our Superior Leader,” Douglas said. “Now you will be our new ruler…our missing link.”
“Like hell, I am,” Westlake resisted.
Seizing in the opportunity, Mandy rushed over to Westlake and whispered some counseling into his one good ear.
He relayed her words to Douglas and the guards:
“I won’t be your leader. It’s up to you now to decide how you will lead your people. Denounce your governments. Learn to live in peace with each other and accept your differences.”
The two societies considered his (or, more precisely, Mandy’s) words.
“How can that be possible after so many centuries?” Douglas inquired. “Where do we even start?”
“You can start by stop tryin’ to fix how you look,” Mandy suggested. “You are all beautiful people in your own special ways.”
She felt Clarence tug at her gown, looking down to see his doubtful face.
“You sure about that, Mandy?” he asked, eyeing the Superiors specifically.
“As sure as I know you’re beautiful, sweetie,” Mandy warmly told him, with a smile and a kiss planted on his forehead that made the 8-year-old blush.
Entrusting Clarence to take her T.A.R.D.I.S. back into the infinite dimensional corridor, Mandy gave herself a moment to evaluate at her new face from a compact mirror.
“How do you like it?” Clarence asked.
“It’ll take some getting used to,” she admitted. “But, otherwise, I appreciate the work Dr. Douglas put into it…even if he did try to make me look like Miss Piggy.”
She pocketed away her mirror, right when she spotted Clarence’s “Darkman” superhero, whose true name she learnt to be “Peyton Westlake,” brooding in a shadowed corner.
“How’re you doing, Peyton?” she checked.
“I don’t even know how to respond to that,” Westlake said. “My life has been turned upside down in more ways than one.”
“I can fix your face, too,” she guaranteed. “Seems only justified after you helped fix mine.”
“I’ve lost my lab and my research,” Westlake lamented.
“You’re with an alien who travels between other dimensions,” Clarence reminded him. “If she can do that, she can fix you.”
Westlake appreciated their willingness to help. They were both good people.
“It’s not just my outer appearance,” he told them. “I’ve changed inside…I took a man’s life today.”
Mandy sighed. “I understand how you feel. You may never learn to live past it.”
“I’m learning to live with a lot of things,” Westlake remarked.
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