Colder Than a Witch's... Chapter 2


Colder Than a Witch’s …
Chapter 2
Suffer a Witch
A Comics Retcon Story

by Maggie Finson


I sat back and stared at the computer screen as if the glare I was giving it would make what I’d found go away. Not likely.

The Witchblade, the thing that had changed my life so radically, taken so much, but given things back in return hummed gently on my wrist in its mostly innocuous bracelet form. I grimaced and addressed something I still wasn’t sure could really understand what I was saying. “Proud of yourself, aren’t you?”

I could swear I caught a hint of smug consent to that question. It had been a year since I’d put the bracelet on in pure desperation, and I still knew next to nothing about what made the object hugging my right wrist work, or even how it worked.

All I knew was that it did work. Usually it did what I wanted when I wanted it to do so, and in ways I wished for it to accomplish those things. It was that ‘usually’ part that was the kicker. Twice in the past year I had found myself doing something that it wanted. I still haven’t figured out why I was compelled to do those things, or what they accomplished. The first time I confronted and killed a small time drug dealer before he could sell part of his wares to a teen aged girl just coming around the corner. The second time I saved the life of some two bit grifter who had no redeeming human qualities that I could discern. Both of those times, the Witchblade had done what it wanted, and I was simply a passenger and witness.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression ‘Sucks to be you.’ Well in my case, it sucks to be me.

“I need to get out here for awhile.” I told myself though that was still something I hesitated to do very often.

So I showered, dressed in a pair of black leather pants that hugged my lower half like a jealous lover who liked to show off what he had even while not wanting anyone else to touch it, a deep green silk top that showed enough of my cleavage to be enticing but not enough to appear sluttish, a pair of green sandals with three inch heels that really showed off my ankles and made my legs look even better, and sat down in front of my vanity.

“Hi babe.” I spoke to the image in the mirror as if she was someone else, and in a way she was. While I brushed out my waist length flame red hair, carefully applied my makeup, and added gold hoop earrings, a delicate herringbone gold necklace and matching bracelet, then paused to regard the general effect of what I’d done.

Almond shaped emerald green eyes set in a delicately beautiful face regarded what I’d done from the mirror with what I knew to be approval. “I won’t ever embarrass you on purpose, Ginger.”

Getting up, I left the bedroom, grabbed my purse and headed out of the upscale apartment I lived in. This body I was in hadn’t been mine a little over a year ago, but it had its needs, and one of those was looking good wherever it went. Ginger Calvert had been an extraordinarily beautiful young woman and I wasn’t going to do anything at all to discomfit whatever was left of her, even if I had been a man before my soul landed in the body of the woman I’d loved more than life itself.

Confused? Try it from where I am.

A year ago I’d been a forty year old male university professor. Then I’d found the Witchblade.

Now I was twenty-three year old woman who could melt a man’s brain with a smile or twitch of my hip. And worse, I was in the body I’d loved in my former existence. I’d become Ginger Calvert, at least physically. She and I died but before I did that I’d managed to put the bracelet that held the Witchblade over my wrist in desperation wishing to save at least some of my students at the excavation that had cost me so much.

So now I was a young woman. Leila Shea to the world thanks to an identity change. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that people were hunting me, didn’t I? Like I said, sucks to be me.

At least I’m not financially challenged. The Witchblade does take care of its wielder.

So people saw a wealthy dilettante leaving her apartment and obviously on the prowl from the way she was dressed as I took the elevator down to the parking garage.

“Hey, Lay Lay,” the guy who lived next door greeted me as I entered the elevator. “Think we could hook up tonight?”

“Dream on, Brent.” I grinned and patted his cheek. “I have my sights set on some unsuspecting CEO. I’m afraid you just aren’t there yet.”

“You still haven’t found ‘Mr. Right’ so no one would fault you for just giving in to having a little fun, you know.” He grinned back.

“I’m saving myself.” I chuckled and gave him a genuine smile.

“What a waste.” He continued our usual line of banter.

Brent was not at all repulsive. In fact he was one hell of a hunk. And trust me, saying, even admitting that to myself was something that had taken a lot of internal arguments. My male, or ex-male, ego had taken a really bad beating when I finally admitted to myself that my neighbor got things I’d never had a year before tingling and wet. I kissed his cheek and winked. “Keep at it, sweetie. You’ll meet my qualifications in time.”

“Your confidence is inspiring.” He let out a little laugh and I noted the strain in the crotch of his pants with a pride that would have had me sick a year ago. “But I’m a now kind of guy you know, and once I get to where you’d be interested I’ll probably be too damned old to enjoy what I get.”

“Exercise and diet.” I told him. “Trust me on this one, even old guys surprise themselves when the right girl comes along.”

“Can’t I change your mind on that?” He asked almost plaintively.

“Oh, all right.” I relented a bit. “Buy me a drink and maybe I’ll give you a break. Maybe.”

“I can’t afford to get you drunk enough to do that.” He sighed then laughed. My capacity for alcohol was prodigious thanks to the Witchblade. “But that won’t keep me from trying.”

“Like I said, O worthless supplicant,” I gave him a mock glare, “dream on.”

I liked Brent. He was smart, funny, and actually paid attention to a girl instead of overloading her with things about himself. And before you say anything, I’d stopped slapping myself for reacting and thinking like a girl some time back. I was a girl, or woman, my hormones and slightly differently wired brain dictated things I would never have considered as Clyde. It was just easier to roll with that and not fight too much. Fighting wouldn’t have done me any good anyway.

“Oh, I dream plenty.” He leered at me. “Sometimes even when I’m asleep.”

“Lech.” I slapped his shoulder and laughed.

“Guilty as charged.” He cheerfully admitted. “This particular lech worships at your beautiful feet, dear, lovely, lady.”

I liked Brent Connor, and so did the Witchblade. That last one made me worry a bit, but what could I do? He was really good looking, an up and coming IT genius, and god help me, I really did like him. In the sense of a woman ‘liking’ a man. I’d avoided more than casual encounters to scratch the itch that Ginger’s healthy young body possessed. And yes, I’d known a man in the ‘biblical’ way about four months after my change. At times I could swear that Ginger was still around, guiding and encouraging me to be a woman. I know I’d learned how to do my makeup and match clothing and jewelry really quickly, so that idea wasn’t quite as ‘out there’ as it sounds.

"Your car or mine?" I questioned.

"Mines in the shop again." He grimaced and shrugged.

“Told you not to buy that Ferrari.” I smirked.

“High maintenance stuff. “ He shrugged. “I tend to gravitate towards that kind of thing.”

I saw the look in his eyes, and tried to ignore it. He was talking about me, not his damned car. “Lower your expectations, or find something that will support your dreams.”

“Working on that.” He answered.

We reached my Mercedes SL65 AMG and I keyed the locks with my remote. “My chariot is yours.”

My car was a two seater, deep blue, and with a finish that could hold the reflections of the stars, not just remember them.

We got in and I turned the twelve cylinder engine over and just sat there listening to it purr.

“Buy one of these, next time around, I advised him.

“Yours needs tune ups as often as mine.” He countered.

“Maybe so,” I shrugged while twitching the steering wheel enough to get us out of the parking garage. “But mine gets out of the shop a lot faster than yours does.”

“Good point.” He acknowledged.

“German engineering.” I poked at him again and chuckled. “A pussy wagon, no matter how sexy it is, only works if it’s running.”

“God.” He shook his head. “If I didn’t know better I’d swear you were a guy in drag with some of things you say at times.”

“Put a bug in a girl’s locker room.” I deflected that one with a truth. “Trust me, what you hear would shock you and enlighten you beyond your wildest dreams.”

“I’ll have to try that.” He grinned.

“You would, too.” I shook my head.

“Man needs all the insights he can get when it comes to interacting with women.” He countered.

“Maybe I’ll bug the guy’s locker room then.” I teased. “Just to keep the playing field even.”

“You’d do that, too.”

“Damned right I would.”

“Leila, you are one evil woman.”

“Thank you.” I grinned. “I do try.”

I didn’t know what drew me to this guy. Yes he was good looking with his dark hair and clear blue eyes, his well developed and maintained body, and his personality. But I’d met others like him and shrugged them off as if they didn’t exist.

Where that led my thoughts, I absolutely refused to consider.

In spite of that pleasant repartee, I was careful to watch my surroundings. I’d needed to change my identity because a very powerful, very rich man wanted to find me. And I didn’t want him to do that.

I wanted to find him first.

And it occurred to me that Brent might be the way for me to do that, horrible as that idea made me feel.

I’d been on my own for a year, and was at a loss to find ways to get anywhere near The Swordsman, or Rourke as he’d told me to call him. I knew that wasn’t his real name, and he had vast resources to keep anyone from finding out what that was and he wasn’t averse to using those quite ruthlessly.

But I was still hunting, and wouldn’t give up. Rourke, or whatever his real name was, and I, had some things to settle.

Problem here. His hunters weren’t all that averse to hurting people to get what they wanted. Which was the Witchblade in this case, though since it was attached to me I was high on the man’s wish list, too. One sure way to make me give up the Witchblade was to kill me, by the way.

I’m sure you can understand why I didn’t want his people to find me until I was ready to face him and finish things between us.

“Oh, shit.” I breathed as a pair of Escalades pulled to either side of the Mercedes just before we’d reached the access to the interstate.

“What’s the problem?” Brent questioned, having ignored the two vehicles while undoubtedly formulating strategies to get him and me into the same bed and naked.

A Hummer pulled into the lane right behind us, and as I looked, sure enough, another SUV changed lanes so it was directly in front of us. I cursed myself for not paying attention and told the man. “Trouble I think. We’re being boxed here.”

Brent wasn’t at all stupid, and he noted the pair of Escalades, the Hummer that was almost on our rear bumper, and the slowing Suburban in front of us. “Car thieves?”

“Maybe.” I told him then looked over the situation again. “Hang on.”

The people in the SUVs could have been car thieves. My Mercedes was a high dollar item and a tempting target for something like that, but the bracelet on my wrist didn’t think so from the way it was vibrating against my flesh. Neither did I.

One of the ‘options’ I’d purchased when I bought the car was a heavily armored body and bullet proof glass. And the engine was even more powerful than it appeared to be. I popped the console between the driver and passenger seats and flipped the switch that would start the supercharger attached to the warren of wiring and parts that was the engine. Then slammed the accelerator to the floor and abruptly yanked the steering wheel to the left.

Whoever was in the Escalade hadn’t expected that, and the armored body of my cute little sports car slammed into it hard enough to deflect the heavier vehicle into the closest oncoming lane of traffic. That driver was really good. He corrected and avoided a head on collision, which I had counted on, but the few seconds he was out of position gave me the opening I needed.

My beautiful, faithful Mercedes swung into the vacated lane under my direction and with a roar of its lovingly maintained V twelve shot forward like a bullet, leaving the SUVs behind like they were barely moving. Which on reflection once I noted what the speedometer was showing me, wasn’t that far off the mark.

‘”Oh, migod.” Brent got out. “I think I just crapped my pants.”

“Just don’t pee on my upholstery.” I told him and knew I had a manic grin on my face. “We aren’t out of the woods yet here.”

I was right. The SUVs, even the heavy Hummer, were back on our tail and actually gaining ground. Those vehicles had some impressive engines, I admitted to myself.

“Find a cop car.” Brent advised.

“Won’t do any good.” I shot back, remembering several dead police officers in Topeka and reaching into the console to activate my next surprise.

My little car was very, very fast with the specially made supercharger it had. A dose of Nitrous Oxide only made it faster and I was pushed back into the seat as that hit. “These guys don’t care if they kill cops and are better armed than a squad of marines in a combat zone.”

“What the Hell is going on here?!!” He shouted.

“You really don’t want to know.” I told him while noting that we’d left the pursuit way behind so I put the Mercedes into a skidding, fishtailing turn into an alley and slammed on the brakes. Once the car had stopped, not without abusing a few garbage cans and one dumpster, I looked at Brent and told him. “Number fourteen, Economy Drive. Get there and I’ll explain all of this, but for now run. Don’t go home, don’t go to work, don’t go anywhere you usually do. These guys are bad news and they know you’re a friend of mine. I’m sorry.”

“See you there.” He answered and in spite of his pale face and the sweat all over his forehead I could tell that he would do his best to do that. “And you’d damned well better have a really good story for me when I do.”

“You were a Marine, right?” I asked as he was getting out of the car.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine.” He told me.

“These people, if they catch you, won’t be nice at all, Brent. Don’t let them catch you, please. I’ve lost enough because of these bastards, don’t add yourself to that list.”

“See you there.” He repeated then added. “Go.”

I did, hoping I’d see him at the bolt hole I’d prepared and also hoping that Rourke’s people hadn’t found that too. The car door closed itself as I tore out of the alley leaving someone I’d at least decided was a friend behind.

* * * *

“I’m here.” Brent told me without his usual grin.

I looked at the ragged raincoat he was wearing, and dirt he’d smeared all over his face and nodded. I’d led Rourke’s people on a merry and wild chase once I’d dropped Brent off in that alley. Once I felt he’d had enough time to get away from that alley without being caught, I played a rather deadly game of tag with my pursuers and they had lost two vehicles in the chase before I lost them for good. I only hoped innocents hadn’t been hurt while that was happening. “That you did. Nice outfit, by the way.”

“Blend and fade.” He answered simply. “Recon training.”

I’d found the rundown warehouse that I’d set up as my bolt hole to be free of surveillance happily, and parked my battered, faithful Mercedes inside an hour before he’d appeared at the door. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“My whole life has just been trashed, thanks to you.” He said while giving me a cold eyed look that would have chilled a dead man. “I want to know why.”

“This is why.” I answered while tapping the bracelet on my right wrist.

“A little gaudy, and obviously worth a fortune.” He answered with a sigh. “But why are you willing to risk people’s lives for that? Couldn’t you just have thrown it out the window and avoided all this crap?”

“It doesn’t want me to do that.” I said with a heavy sigh. “It won’t LET me do that. Believe me,I would have done that in a heartbeat if I could have.”

“IT won’t let you?”

“No it won’t.” I sighed and motioned for him to take a seat on the threadbare couch in the office we had ended up in. “I don’t know whether it’s actually sentient or not, but the Witchblade does have a mind of its own at times.


“Yeah.” I answered tiredly. “I’ll show you.”

And activated the Witchblade. The bracelet pulsed against my wrist then blazed with a brilliant fire that would have been blinding if you weren’t ready for it. Brent hadn’t been and took a few seconds to recover his sight.

To see my flame red hair whipping around my face and body in a wind that no one else could feel, and my right arm encased in an armored gauntlet that ended in a clenched fist holding a blade that shimmered like a heat mirage on a highway in Kansas in high summer, and was surrounded by clouds of disturbed air and miniature lightning bolts. “This is what those people were after, Brent.”

He had no answer for that one. Not that I blamed him at all. It had taken me months to accept the oddly beautiful, terrifying image the Witchblade showed to people. And I was the one wielding the damned thing.

“This is why I’ve been hiding, even if in plain sight, for a year. Why I tried to keep you from getting too friendly with me.” I waved the blade and reached out with it to slice at a steel girder that wouldn’t make the whole place come down if it was severed. “Someone else wants this, and in his hands it could do awful things. So I’m trying to keep him from getting it.”

To his credit, Brent didn’t just collapse, or try to tell himself he wasn’t seeing what he was. “Meta Humans. You’re one of those, aren’t you?”

“I don’t know what I am, Brent.” I told him honestly. “But whatever it is scares the Hell out of me.”

“You still owe me a story.” He deflected my own misery as deftly as he’d tried to get me into his bed and I was grateful for that in a way that is kind of hard to describe. So I told him the whole story.

* * * *

“So this Rourke character wants what you have and you if he can catch you.” Brent finally said following a long silence once I’d told him the story. I silently blessed him for avoiding the expected ‘You used to be a guy?’ response.

“That sums it up pretty neatly.” I answered with a sigh. “The students who helped me back in Kansas are dead. Accidents. And anyone connected with me seems to be doomed to the same fate.”

That knowledge hurt, a lot. I was a walking, land bound Jonah but the whale ate my friends instead of me.

“So this guy doesn’t want people to know about you, or what you have.” Brent mused, just accepting that shit happened and not complaining about it, bless him. “And has anyone who does know anything real about you eliminated.”

“That about covers it.” I said.

“Well, that’s crap.” He told me and managed to flash a grin that I’d come to like a lot. “Give me a decent computer and internet access. I can find him for you.”

“You’d do that?” I questioned.

“Hell yeah, I’d do that.” Was the answer he shot back. “Nobody gets away with messing my friends up, and this one kind of wrecked a good thing I had going career-wise and with my love life.”

“Love life?”

“Leila, or whatever your name really is,” he answered softly, “I don’t care what you were a year ago, I’ve only known you as the woman here in this room with me and to be honest, I’ve been in love since I first saw you. If you think that’s too much, fine, but I’ll do whatever I can to help you even if you don’t return my feelings.”

“Ginger.” I told him with a smile and moved forward to give him a hug. My friends always called me Ginger.”

“Ginger.” He nodded and returned the hug with just enough force to tell me he was serious. “It fits.”

I wish we’d had the luxury of going beyond that just then. God knows I wanted to.

* * * *

“I have connections, and the money to get us new identities.”

“Noticed that.” Brent answered and gave my arm a light touch that electrified me. “You did a good job of it before I met you, so it stands to reason that you could manage the same thing now.”

“The Witchblade takes care of its own.” I grimaced.

“Don’t be that way, dear.” He smirked. Once we’d gotten clear of Minneapolis we finally scratched that itch both of us were feeling in some motel room east of Omaha. The resources, financial and otherwise, that I had access to were staggering. “Use what you have to its fullest.”

“Square head.” I teased.

“At least my hats don’t fall off in a stiff breeze.” Brent chuckled. I’d been wearing a wide brimmed straw hat the other day and the wind had taken it.


“So where do we go from here?” He asked.

“I don’t know.” I shrugged then added. “Just south.”

“Pick a town, I’ll have us ID and histories by the time we get there.”

“Try Dallas.”

“Got contacts there?”

“Yup. Here’s the number.”

So I was headed for another unknown. But at least now, I wasn’t alone.

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