When Mother Sun and Sister Moon regained consciousness, they were chained back to back against a metal column in a large conical brass chamber. The walls were ribbed with concave grooves, giving the impression they were inside a giant citrus juicer.
“Sorry for the uncomfortable accommodations, ladies, but as you see from my Imperial Monitor, very soon your discomfort will be the least of your concerns!”
The shrill voice belonged to Caesar Insidious, the Roman-costumed super-scientist, who stood silhouetted before a wall-spanning aerial display of Colossus City.
“Down in front!” demanded Mother Sun.
“We can’t see squat with you standing in the way,” added Sister Moon.
Beneath her silver helmet, Sister Moon grimaced. She flexed her shoulders, testing the chains. Impossible to break. And she couldn’t slip into moonbeam form, which meant the chains were made of a lunarium alloy.
Caesar Insidious moved slightly to his left, beaming triumphantly. “You see, I have done my homework on you, heroes. I know all your weaknesses. You cannot hope to escape. Instead, you have front-row seats for the apocalypse.”
He clicked a button in the palm of his hand. The image of the city was suddenly overlaid with dozens of dotted lines arcing in from the periphery to centre on downtown Colossus.
“As you can see, my Fulminite missiles will soon begin to rain down on -”
“By Ra’s Blazing Ire, are you using Power Point?” Mother Sun’s scorn was as scorching as her namesake. She could melt a steel girder with a glance – if the room were not bathed in invisible radiation from the Messner-Wieringo spectrum, which sapped her powers.
“It’s a perfectly serviceable application for communicating -”
“Oh, is it? That would have been useful earlier.” Though Sister Moon’s chilling voice power did not seem currently to be striking fear into her foe’s heart, the room cooled at her tone.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” demanded Caesar Insidious and Mother Sun at the same time. Mother Sun silenced Insidious with a glare which, fortunately for him, was hot in expression only. “Do you have something to say, Sister Moon?”
Sister Moon tried the chain again but it was useless. She was trapped, and worse, she’d trapped herself. “I just mean, I said all along this was a bad idea.”
Mother Sun said, “We had no choice. You know that. Caesar Insidious was planning to destroy Colossus City. Nobody could stop him but us.”
“You mean, nobody can stop me at all!” crowed Caesar Insidious. “Within moments, my Chrono-Beacons will activate and -”
“I meant what I said. Now, please be quiet. My partner and I are having a conversation.”
“I said please,” said Mother Sun firmly. “I won’t say it again.”
Sister Moon sighed. “I’m not talking about his apocalypse scheme or his death traps. I’m talking about us.”
On the screen, the dotted arcs aimed at the city beeped and advanced by another point. New icons appeared at the vertices of a heptagon surrounding downtown Colossus. The faces of various costumed felons hovered over scattered points on the map. Text scrolled too fast to read.
Mother Sun shot a glance at Caesar Insidious. “You mean our alliance against crime?”
“I mean us. You and me.”
Caesar Insidious looked from one hero to the other. “Oh,” he said, sounding embarrassed. “Oh! Are the two of you together? I always thought you were -”
“You thought we were what, dear?” said Mother Sun.
“Oh really? Because we’re both Asian? Is that what you thought?”
Caesar Insidious turned a shade of pale historically unheard of on the Italian Peninsula. “Oh, no no no. Really, I don’t have a racist bone in my body. I just meant, I always assumed you were one of those mother-daughter teams you hear about.” The uncertain quaver in his voice had assumed superhuman proportions.
“Well, shut up because we’re not,” said Sister Moon. “We’re allowed to be different ages, you know. Sun, what I’m trying to say is, are you sure about this? We keep fighting. I don’t want that.”
Mother Sun was silent for a moment. “Do you think we’re too different, Moon?”
“I think we’re too alike!” Sister Moon sniffed beneath her helmet. “Just now, we both charged straight in, knowing it was a trap. We both allowed ourselves to be captured so we could listen to Insidious explain his master plan.”
“Shut up, Insidious. We both decided, independently and without consultation, to offer to sacrifice ourselves so he’d let the other go. I think we’re both too obsessed with our work to make time for each other.”
“What are you saying?” Mother Sun couldn’t see her partner’s face, but she pictured her biting her lip.
Through a louder sniffle, Sister Moon said, “I – I think maybe we should see other partners.”
Kaiju sirens sounded in the distance as Colossus City became alert to the threat.
Mother Sun blinked hard. “Is that really what you want?”
Sister Moon shook her head, rattling her chains. “No. I just don’t know if we can be good for each other.”
An inset box on the monitor showed Belladonna and the Carnivore brawling with Adjustor and Tremolo for control of a Chrono-Beacon. The heroes were losing.
Mother Sun said, “I love you, Moon. Nothing else is as good for me as you.”
She stepped away from the column, the chains evaporating where they touched her. She gestured at Insidious’s control system. He yelped as it melted into slag, and again when the slag enveloped his boots. As he jumped free, Mother Sun clocked him with a right cross. “That’s what you get for researching my vulnerabilities on Heropedia.”
Sister Moon shrugged off the loose chains. “Does this mean we’ll keep trying?”
Mother Sun smiled. “It won’t be easy. We’re workaholics, our power sets aren’t complementary and I dislike all your favourite music.”
Sister Moon said, “After we save the city, let’s take a holiday. Together.”
Mother Sun beamed brighter. “In space?”
“Space is good.”