Another warm and sunny day had given way to a clear and beautiful evening in Fawcett City. As the sun slowly sank into the western horizon, the lights of the fair city blinked on, like so many fireflies on a pond. Standing outside a lovely white apartment near the outskirts of town, a girl looked up and embraced the oncoming night.
“Ah, this is perfect!” she said aloud to herself. “Not too hot, not too cold — not like the brutal winter we had. I’m not used to the cold, especially the snow, but that’s all said and done. I look forward to the upcoming spring!” The young girl looked no older than a normal teenager, and officially she was sixteen years old; however, looks could be deceiving, for this was no ordinary person, if even that. Before coming to Fawcett City last year, she had another home: Fairyland.
That had been her only home for nearly a hundred years, for the girl known as Florence Fair in the mortal world was indeed a faerie from the mystical realm. She was the self-proclaimed queen of the pixies, but everyone there knew her as Flora, an elemental plant faerie with the ability to control plants and vegetation. As gentle as the petals of a rose, but as harsh as the thorns that protected that selfsame rose, Flora became fascinated with the mortal world upon hearing stories about Earth from fellow magical beings she knew.
After eating a quick breakfast of fruits and juice, Florence went out the front door wearing a white and yellow sun dress and strolled down the street toward the corner market, the sound of flip-flops resonating from the concrete sidewalk. During her walk, several neighbors waved and greeted the young lass as she smiled and waved back at each one.
I feel like I’m finally part of the neighborhood, thought Florence. Though the human realm is quite different than Fairyland, the things that are offered in Fawcett City are truly magnificent.
After crossing the street at the corner of Beck and Binder, Florence was about to enter the small corner market, when suddenly a voice yelled from across the street.
“Hey, Flo! Wait up!” As she turned around, a young man ran to her, huffing and puffing once he came up to her.
“Morning, Willie. How are you this fine spring day?” asked Florence.
“Just fine, Flo. I came to the store to buy some extra supplies for the restaurant. Mind if I tag along with you?” Willie answered back. Florence nodded with a smile as they both entered. The young African-American teenager named Willie Batson and known by his stage name as Willie B was the son of the owner of Willie B’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant. But he was also known by his other guise, that of Cool Marvel, the newest member of the three Lieutenant Marvels. She knew about his secret identity, as she had secretly helped him, along with Billy Batson and Caitlin O’Malley, when she came to Fawcett City last June. In the months since then, Florence had learned to adapt within the confines of the mortal realm while also doing her part against crime and evil in Fawcett City as the heroine known as Flora. Though knowing the identities of the Marvel Family, none of them knew of Flora’s true origin, let alone that she was a mystical being.
Unlike the other heroes such as the Marvels, Spy Smasher, and Bulletman, Flora kept to the shadows and avoided being seen in public. There were scattered reports about a mysterious being stopping robbers and foiling accidents and the like. Flora thought it would be best to keep a low profile until the time was right to reveal herself to the world.
“Yo! Earth to Flo! Come in! Over!” Florence was startled as Willie spoke.
“My apologies, Willie. I was lost in thought. From now on, you have my undivided attention.”
“Believe me, you had my undivided attention with that dress you’re wearing. Makes me glad winter’s over and spring is here!” Florence blushed slightly at Willie’s comment as the two continued their shopping.
Later on, in the early evening back at the apartment, Florence was watching television. She had relied on it almost exclusively during her first few months on Earth for all information. While she enjoyed the many nature programs and human interest stories, she was saddened to see that, despite the presence of many heroes, there was also a lot of bad news, and that strengthened her resolve to help those in need against the forces of evil.
“Now it’s time to go on patrol.” With the wave of her hand and a bright glowing light, the young girl known as Florence Fair became Flora the faerie. Wearing a costume of flowers and leaves, she shrank down to six inches tall. With her glittering wings flapping, she darted out from a crack in an open window and took to the evening sky, doing what she could to keep Fawcett City safe and sound.
As Flora darted almost invisibly around the streets in the coming dusk, she saw a suspicious character lurking around the back alley leading up to the small corner market she had visited earlier in the day, which was already closed. Silently landing behind a garbage can, she studied the individual, who was fitting a mask over the bottom portion of his face. Then, putting his hand in the right pocket of his trenchcoat, he pulled out a small revolver. Almost instantly, a cold sweat ran down Flora’s back as her mind flashed back to over six months ago.
By the fall of 1987, Flora had only recently begun patrolling and stopping small things like minor robberies through supposedly mysterious and miraculous feats. Through her viewings on television as well as reading, she knew the concept behind what a gun was. But then, for the first time since coming to the world of the mortals a few months earlier, she encountered a man who attempted to hold her up one night as she was walking home in her normal identity as Florence Fair.
Even in her full size, she possessed her powers and pixie strength, and as the assailant drew his weapon after being punched, instinctively she threw up a protective barrier. That had been enough protection against the typical weapons she had faced in the past, such as knives and arrows, but she had no idea of the speed, intensity, and sheer force created from a bullet. Though the mystical barrier slowed down the projectile, it still struck her on the right side of her body, grazing her and causing unbelievable pain as it cut through her skin. She struck the person with almost her full mystic might in a moment of confusion, then flew off toward home, collapsing into an unconscious heap in a pool of her own blood once she had arrived in her bedroom.
It took Flora several days to recover physically, but she had now become sensitive to the nature of firearms. She later found out via the news that Captain Marvel Junior had found the man who had attacked her in the alley, badly beaten and in critical condition. According to the mumblings of the person, he went after a young girl, saw a bright light, shot at it, and after that he remembered absolutely nothing. She found out later that he did recover, but since there was a warrant out for his arrest for assault, he was sent to jail. So, in a sense, justice was done.
Since that time, Flora had strengthened her force-shield to compensate against firearms. However, in her small pixie form, she usually couldn’t be seen, and in that form she also had super-speed that could easily evade such weaponry. Of course, that didn’t mean she liked facing guns, since she knew a well-placed shot would easily end her life.
Flora shook off the feeling. I knew the risks involved when I started this, she thought to herself, and as she readied herself to face the potential robber, she noticed he was gone.
Great! That’s what I get for daydreaming. I’d better check by the side of the store. As the tiny faerie flew to the side, she saw the side delivery door slightly ajar. Flying silently through the opening, Flora noticed the crook was already in the store pointing a gun at the cashier, shouting demands for the day’s cash in the drawer. A quick glance showed nobody was around outside or within the store, so the conclusion was that the cashier was the only employee left inside the store and had been counting the day’s receipts. As she approached the scene, the petite faerie accidentally bumped into a can sitting loosely on a shelf, causing it to fall onto the store floor.
“Who’s there?!” shouted the robber in a voice that gave way to hysteria as he looked all around and noticed the fallen can on the floor. The robber didn’t notice Flora, though; after all, not many people knew to look for a person only a few inches tall. After wiping the sweat from his forehead, he shook the gun in front of the cashier’s face and demanded all the money. The female cashier shook from fear as she stuffed a grocery bag full of bills from the day’s sale.
Flora landed, perched behind a couple of cans of green beans that were slightly taller than her that had been placed in a display facing the side of the checkout line. She studied the situation.
If I try to attack now, he may end up shooting the poor girl, she mused. If I wait, he still might end up shooting her in fear of having a potential witness to the crime. If he gets the money, he’ll leave, and that’s my best chance at getting him. However, before anything else could happen, a couple of police cars with lights and sirens screeched to a halt right in front of the store. Startled by the turn of events, the robber looked at the cashier and noticed that the silent alarm button had been pushed.
“Damn! Why did you have to go and do that?” yelled the crook. “All you had to do was give me the money, and I would’ve left you alone — and now you had to ruin everything!”
Shortly, a loud voice came booming over a bullhorn. “This is the police! The building is surrounded. Come out with your hands up!”
Stricken with panic, the robber suddenly grabbed the young cashier from over the counter, then pointed the gun at her head. “No way! I have a hostage. Let me go free, and nobody gets hurt!” The girl was softly sobbing, terrified by the crook’s action.
Flora, still perched behind the canned goods, now faced a new problem. Of course her priority was to save the lives of innocents and defeat crooks and robbers, but in order to succeed this time, she might be forced to do the one thing she had avoided up to this point: reveal her existence to Fawcett City and the world.