The Power Titans'
Swinging Christmas Carol
by Crazy Ivan
(FYI: The Power Titans break down as follows:
Incinerator [Joto / Incinerator] -- Alex Titan, can ignite solids, absorb their potential energy as they burn, and fire the energy as plasma balls.
Stargent [Argent / Starstreak] -- Katie Titan. Flying girl w/ light-trail effect.
Magnitude [Risk / Counterweight] -- Jack Titan. Super-tough member of Power Titans
Refracula [Prysm / Molecula] -- Julie Titan, can bend light and project energy.
Mister Saturday [Mr. Jupiter / Smartship Friday] -- Sponsor and mentor to Power Titans.
Snitch [Omen / Tattletale] -- Mr. Saturday’s psychic aide, assists in leading the Power Titans.)
Katie's eyes literally twinkle as she rushes to put on her thick winter coat, fill the thermos with steaming hot cocoa, and call up the stairs for her brothers and sister. They are less enthusiastic.
"For goodness sakes, Katie!" Jack yells down to her, "It's 8 o'clock in the morning! This is suppose to be our winter break!"
Alex stumbles out of his room holding his terry cloth robe shut. "She's like this every year, Alex. You'd never know she turned 13 last month." Suddenly Alex Titan's eyes widen in horror as he realizes... "Aw, no! Julie got to the bathroom first again!" He begins pounding frantically on the locked door.
"Gimmee a minute, I just got in!" Meaning of course, that Alex and Jack can forget about getting any hot water for the rest of the day.
Katie is oblivious to the sibling rivalry upstairs. All she’s concerned with is getting out into the city and singing Christmas Carols. This year Mr. Saturday said they can go out unsupervised, since they're finally all teen-agers. Of course they’ll still have Snitch
tagging along, but Katie rather likes the mysterious boy, even if he sometimes acts like the Space Phantom Stranger. He's not so different from her adopted family, Katie decides, especially when they’re all in costume as the Power Titans!
Growing impatient, Katie switches into her Stargent identity and streaks up the stairway in a multi-hued blur. She pinballs off both her brothers and careens into the bathroom door, busting the lock.
"Katie!" Julie screams. The older girl draws the shower curtain around herself, in case the boys can see her, but she needn’t bother. Whenever she is frightened or startled, her Refracula costume materializes on her, just as Alex and Jack changed into Incinerator and magnitude when Katie bounced into them. Alex grabs Katie by the arm and spins her around. "Settle down, girl! You know Mister Saturday doesn't let us use our powers in thehouse!"
"Yeah!" Jack pipes up. "Besides, it's way too early for caroling. You’re suppose to wait for night!"
"What are you, blind? It SNOWED last night!!" Whether or not the others comprehend the full implications of this revelation, Katie continues. "In two hours we can be in New York! Ice skating! Throwing snowballs! Shopping!!"
There’s no point in arguing when she gets like this. Christmas always makes Katie giddy. Soon all four Titan teens are making the drive from Albany to Manhattan. Mr. Saturday let them use the Caravanagon mini-van for the day. After about five minutes on I-87, Snitch appears in the back seat.
"Snitch! Don't do that!" Alex shouts, trying to keep from freaking out over his teammate's stunt. Sometimes Snitch just teleports from place to place. At others he creates 'dream-selves' that manifest out of nowhere. Alex doesn't know if the enigmatic hooded 16 year old is really in the van or not, but it certainly is distracting when things like that happen and he's trying to drive.
As usual Snitch says nothing. He normally remains silent unless something bad is happening or Mister Saturday is talking to him. Jack often wonders if Snitch is even human, he acts more like some wizard’s creation. Julie doesn’t really think of him except in the context of the team. Lots of superhero groups have mystics, it makes sense for them to have one, too. If he wants to remain such an enigma she's in no rush to uncover his secrets.
"Look out!" All four Titan kids scream when Snitch yells out, indicating a body lying half-way in the road. Alex swerves to the right, plowing into muddy farmland. He knows they're stuck, but he revs the engine anyway.
"No problem," says Jack. "I got it." He jumps out of the van and lifts it effortlessly back onto the road. "Don't everybody thank me at once!"
No need to worry about that. The others, including Snitch, are examining the body laid out before them. "Is he alive?" "Where's his head?" "Looks like someone dropped a pumpkin on him." "He's so thin."
"He's moving!" At Julie's words they all back up. When the willowy figure sits up, she screams, "Look at his face!"
Spindly limbs reach up to feel the face in question. A large, orange-yellow gourd with a nose, mouth and two eyes carved out of it.
Alex is the first to state what they all have noticed. "It's Halloween Jack! From IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN KING, CHARLIE BROWN!"
"Du-uh! How many other living scarecrows do you know that wear tuxedos?" Despite his own words Jack does not believe the physical embodiment of the spirit of Halloween is sitting by the road in front of him. It just can't be.
Halloween Jack stands on wobbly straw legs, getting his bearings before talking. His eyes and mouth move like a claymation special as he does. "When am I?"
"When? It's Christmas Eve, Pumpkin-Head"
Snitch takes offense to Jack's tone. "This being is ill. Something is tragically wrong!"
Julie's eyes roll up as the situation settles in for her. "It's always something. Looks like we won't be getting to New York any time soon. Sorry, Katie."
All Katie can do is stare at the Great Pumpkin King and say, "This is so Coo-ool!"
Halloween Jack proceeds to explain what he remembers. On Halloween he had been making his usual rounds when a strangely cold wind caught him. He twirled around in the gust, which kept building in strength until it felt like a hurricane. His internal candle was snuffed, effectively blinding him in the 'real world.' When he stopped spinning, it was day. Halloween was over. He scrambled to locate a pumpkin patch sincere enough for his magic to work, but as he staggered blindly the best he could find was this field right here. And even though it still had some decent size pumpkins he couldn't open the magic gateway to Halloween Town. Hopeless, he collapsed, remaining exactly where he fell until someone tried to pick his head to make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
"Well, you're in luck now, Mr. Pumpkin, sir! We're the Power Titans! And we can..., uh, anybody know how we can help?" Alex feels foolish for offering help he can't provide, but he isn't ready to concede defeat so readily.
"I should be able to open the gateway if the Great pumpkin King can guide the way," offers Snitch. "Halloween Town is an aspect of the Dreamlands, and I myself come from there."
Magnitude elbows Refracula and whispers, "Ha! I knew it was a Dream-Self! Pay up, sis!"
Moments later they are all gathered around the largest pumpkin still attached to the vine (actually, it's a squash, but Halloween Jack insists it doesn’t make a difference). Snitch spreads out his arms and a yellow shimmer of light opens a two-dimensional rift before them.
"Enter," he tells them, "I cannot maintain a portal this size for long." The four adopted sibling do so, bringing along the lost Great Pumpkin King.
When they emerge on the other side, it like nothing any of them expect. Including Halloween Jack and Snitch. Tiny emerald flecks fall from the sky. "Green snow?" asks Julie.
"More like Monster Oobleck," says Katie, "Just like in the Seuss-Bumps books."
"But that's never happened before," Halloween Jack tells them. "What does it mean?"
"Ah! Your head!" Katie shrieks at Halloween Jack.
"We've been over that one alrea.. Whoa, that's different!" Jack is also taken aback by the metamorphosis the Great Pumpkin King is undergoing.
Snitch is too overwhelmed by what he sees at the bottom of the hill they're standing on. Where Halloween Town normally sits appears to be overlaid with something else, something... wintry. "This is all wrong," he says with unusual emotion. "Great Pumpkin King, your realm is.. what HAPPENED to you??"
As if a talking pumpkin-headed man wasn't unnerving enough, the Power Titans are astonished to see that their companion has changed drastically. In place of his Jack-O-Lantern he now sports an oversized snowball, and his twig-limbs have been transformed into ice sickles. "Oh my!" he says, racing into town in huge strides. It's the pace Halloween Jack is used to running, but his new ice legs can't handle the pressure, and the left one cracks before he makes it all the way.
The kids pick him up carefully and Magnitude carries him the rest of the trip. When they arrive things look even worse than they did on the hill top: witches ride giant candy canes, a team of eight gargoyles hitched to a sleigh, and goblins dressed in green and red elf suits.
"THIS is Halloween Town?" Katie asks rhetorically.
Alex is the one to give a name to the anomaly before them. "It's an amalgam. A combination of Halloween Town and Christmas Town. That's the only explanation. But how? And why?"
"Good question," says a red-nosed black cat in front of them. "We all just woke up one morning and found it all like this."
Julie points down to the cat and asks, "Is that Rudolph?"
"Yeah," answers Frosty the Scarecrow, "and you should see how Santa's doing. He got all hairy and grew a tail."
"And when he tries to laugh, it always comes out a howl," Rudolph finishes.
"So I guess you'd really have to call him 'Santa Claws' now, huh?" Jack chuckles at his own joke, and is bothered that no one else seems to get it. "Don't you see? This place is all just a Dream! Snitch said so already! This doesn't change anything. All it means is that Tim Burton is having a Nightmare on 34th Street!"
"Jack's got a point," Julie adds, trying to rationalize her own disbelief. "Nothing here is real, it's all in someone's head. Isn't it? Even if I did believe in Santa, I never believed in Frosty the Snowman. Er, no offense."
"None taken," the top-hatted scarecrow replies. "I never bought the idea of all-livin' snow people myself."
"Get with it," Alex chides his siblings. "Would we have found Halloween Jack outside Ravena if he wasn't real?"
Katie gets fiercely serious. "Stop arguing! We're going to help them, understand? This is not open to debate! End discussion!"
"O-kay," Jack and Alex both concede the point, and a sigh later Julie is also consigned to help. After a little investigative questioning they discover that in the mists that usually separate the holidays there is a being called the MetroGnome, who oversees the passage of time in the dreamlands. If anyone can say what happened it should be him.
Rudolph knows the way, but as a black cat he can hardly carry passengers, so he takes them to the sleigh. A sleigh that looks straight out of Cinderella, made from an enlarged pumpkin. The Nutcrackenstein's Monster Prince offers a warning about the creatures that exist on the fringe; creatures like the seven-headed Mouse King or the malevolent Christmas Cat of Icelandic legend. If these monsters have been amalgamated with Halloween spooks, they may be truly terrible now.
Magnitude lifts the sleigh with his control over gravity, and Stargent and Rudolph pull Incinerator, Refracula, Snitch, and Frosty the Scarecrow into the Monster Oobleck-filled sky. The flight defies the sensibilities of the Titan children, completely baffling Magnitude's natural sense of direction. Even Rudolph is disoriented by the merger of the two separate dreamlands; he makes a wrong turn over New Years and almost crash lands on the Island of Malformed Toys. Fortunately Snitch is better able to navigate through the chaos, and they arrive at the Clockwork Castle, where the MetroGnome keeps watch over all the important days of the year. The diminutive being eyes his visitors sternly, and babbles that they are nearly eleven minutes behind schedule. He tells them that the problem started just before Thanksgiving, and if the holidays aren't repaired by Christmas morning the damage will be permanent.
Jack is still skeptical that any of this has real meaning to reality. To prove his point, the MetroGnome offers them all a peak through a portal that leads directly to Time Square in New York City. It is already dark on the other side, and happy carolers travel in flocks from door to door. One group knocks on a shop door, and when the owner comes out, they all hold out their stockings and yell, "Christmas Carol!" They each receive a handful of candy before moving on to the next building.
"So who is behind it all? What can we do to prevent this from happening?" Katie is ready for action; all she needs is for someone to point the way. The MetroGnome tells her that the culprit is somewhere under the Earth, near the North Pole. Without waiting for reactions from the rest she and Rudolph load everyone back into the sleigh, and head north. The come to the passageway from the Dreamland to the real world, and in a twinkling appear over the Arctic Ocean, quite a bit colder than they were a moment ago.
Refracula floods the sky with colored bands of light, illuminating the surface beneath them. Ice gleams in the rainbow hues as far as the eye can see. Snitch tell them he can feel the presence of a dream creature close by, and leads them to the location. Now it is Incinerator's turn; he jumps down and begins pyrokinetically disintegrating the layers of snow and ice covering their quarry.
He stops when he gets to a body, trapped in the permafrost. An enormous beast, easily eight feet tall and ugly as sin stares from his icy tomb. Then it begins to stir, revived by the heat Alex generated. It bursts from the frozen shell around it with a horrific roar and stands ready to do battle. Only Frosty is not frightened by this display, and asks the obvious question. "Who are you?"
"I?" bellows the creature, who resembles the giant Phantomodo from BEAUTY AND THE HUNCHBACK OF THE OPERA, "I am Troll, the Ancient Yuletide Carol! Why have you disturbed my slumber?"
"Your slumber?" Stargent rages at him. "Your slumber nearly messed up my Christmas, that's why! Now fix things right now or else!!"
"Or else what, little girl?" In answer the Power Titans attack. Incinerator releases the energy he stored as a massive fireball. Refracula radiates microwave beams caught from the atmosphere and amplified a thousand-fold. Magnitude delivers a patented graviton-powered Jack-Hammer punch. And Stargent... pulls his hair, really really hard.
None of this has any effect. "You have no power over a dream being here!" Snitch shouts over the din of activity. "We have to use strategy!"
"Better yet," Katie says, getting another of her 'inspirations', "we need to use Christmas. Distract him!"
Frosty the Scarecrow and Alex try to reason with the monster, telling him how much his actions have disturbed things back in Christmas Town. He justifies his transformation of the holidays by claiming that as a long-forgotten creature of the season, his only recourse was to find a place more suited to him, and All Hallow's Eve fit the bill nicely. Since he couldn't move to Halloween, he decided to bring Halloween to him.
Troll relays all this while thrashing wildly with his club. The Titan Teens aren't sure if he can effect them or not, and aren't willing to take the chance. Rudolph is busy guarding Snitch, who has entered a trance while holding open a dream portal for Rudolph and Stargent. Several dodges and weaves later they come streaking back into the real world.
Katie lands and powers down, looking like some Christmas waif come to beg for food. She holds Rudolph close and looks up at the Ancient Yuletide Carol. "Please," she says, so pathetically, "Please don't take Christmas away Mister Troll. Maybe you just never got to enjoy the good things the season has to offer."
Troll pauses reflectively for a moment, and responds. "Girl, there's nothing for me in Christmas. Not much call for Trolls in a land of sugar-plum fairies and pixie dust."
"There's one part of Christmas perfect for you," she say sweetly, holding out a wrapped package.
Troll snatches up the gift and shreds the paper. Then he stops. Just looking down at the present in his oversized hand. And a tear begins to form around his eye. For what he sees is one of the most iconistic signs of the season, easily as recognizable as trees or candy canes. And he must admit to himself that the fruitcake he beholds is possibly even uglier than he is.
About an hour later Troll is enjoying the company of other holiday spirits, who are quite happy to be returned to normal. Santa and the non-gargoyle reindeer leave in a flurry of hustle and bustle to make the annual trip around the world. The five Power Titans return to their trip to New York, a full twelve hours behind schedule (Mister Saturday is furious when they finally check in), and still manage to squeeze in some quality caroling time.
On the rainy drive back to Albany Katie is a little disappointed that the snow didn't last longer. She does stare out the windows hopeful, daring to catch a glimpse of St. Nicholas. She cries out when something catches her eye; not a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, but a white rabbit by the side of the road, sporting a green tuxedo and shillelagh. Despite her protests they all choose to blame it all on bad egg nog. By the time they return home they are nearly ready to forget the entire affair, if not for the mysterious parcel waiting for them on the front porch, containing the largest, most hideous fruitcake any of them has ever seen.
Merry Christmas, Crazy Ivan.
Disclaimer: The story you have just read is false, I made it all up. Some names have been amalgamated to protect the innocent, and to keep the whole "Amalgam" schtick going long after anyone remembers or cares about the comics that came out last April. All characters are the creation of Crazy Ivan, except for the holiday figures that are pretty much public domain. Even so, Amalgam Comics remains the property of Marvel and DC Comics, and this piece of fiction is but an unauthorized, non-profit way for me to wish everyone a Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Saturnalia!
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