The Fractal Rangers: Princess Pop's PredicamentMature

Princess Pop descended from the lights, a flaming nude angel. Halogen green panties, its elastic snapped by an expert military slingshottist, rocketed from the stage to snugly wrap against her pubis and tuck around her hips. Sparks sprayed from stage rear, sending arrows of multi-hued bottle rockets pinwheeling.

Princess Pop favored her fans with a chiclet grin as electronic spiders crawled on her torso, rapidly knitting a horizontally striped purple and black tube top. The spiders, bidding adieu, flung themselves outward, their spinnerets weaving a night black cobweb skirt, and exploded retina-etching flashbangs of poptronica emoticons in a crackling arc to dust.

Princess Pop waved her arms and ghost limbs, phosphorescent blue, slurped along kaliesque trajectories. Riot red fingerless dukes fell from the psychedelic koi trawling heavens of the riven warehouse ceiling and spun onto her punching, twirling fists.

"Hey!"

Pop's first word resounded, a fell wave, a tsunami of sound flattening the salivating horde and extinguishing the sea of lighters already, before the show even started, clamoring for an encore! Android cherubim wafted like demented bumblebees, their tiny clicking fingers draping upwards her legs sheer purple knee-high leggings.

Princess Pop alighted, finally, onto the polished stainless steel floor, her delicate feet slipping into steel-toed jackboots like a sigh. The audience, prone, rose like grass under a footprint, their moan of anticipation a sexy stench washing over her mohawk.

"Hey!" Princess Pop began again, rising on a blast of thunder, the sweet acoustics sending the first chords of the instant classic Power Pop steamrolling. A transparent bubblegum pink raincoat flanked by the cherubim floated out of the constant pyrotechnics and draped itself onto Pop's outstretched form. Her boots slapped on cold steel and the multi-billion dollar musics systems took it up a notch.

Pop's lips as pink as her coat plucked and plicked over whitewash teeth, deepthroating the words that made her a goddess. She sang of punk princesses in kingdoms of garbage and intravenous needles, of the madness of FTL travel outside cold sleep, in the quaintly distilled jargon of the times. She sang: The Ballad of Shandy Peaches the Intergalatic Punk Pirate, Holograms Can't Love, The Beep Be-bop, Pop and Her Pussy (the clean version), and the honey lava drawl of Tarpit Tangos.

Princess Pop was in the middle of Space War Brutes when she felt a familiar presence crackle through her thoughts. It was Perfesser Prof! He was saying, "...need to be careful, Pop. It's the big one and as you know, the most likely moment..." Indeed it was, her crescendo was coming up after a couple more songs, that big finale without a fucking denouement, like a body rolling in the midst of an orgasm with the flow abruptly unstoppered. Lights out. Her fans would be pissed, and they would love her for it.

Pop first came to this corner of reality in torn fishnet stockings and a tattered pullover dress. The Prof had outfitted her throat and diaphragm with the abilities of meta-historical she-crooners, and she had charmed her way to the top of the billboard in two years. What her fans  didn't know, she was deep undercover, and her subsequent disappearance would be as a much a mystery as her appearance.

Pop, as she sang, recounted the cat and mouse game that was her life. A real princess, as real as anything in reality could be, her youth was the smell of hyacinths, the murmurs of wet nurses, and the joyful frolick of her and her twin sister. They lay in the womb, mirror images, and grew up, their violet eyes and peroxide blond hair mirror images. One side of the mirror was Pop and the other was Pip.

Nobody knew what happened. Some said it was the nature of twins, for one to go bad. Pop was no princess (heh heh) but she was a good girl in most respects. Pip broke the mold they both were cast in and escaped north; the kingdom was razed with her pack of slavering wolfmen and the resurrected dead. Princess Pop never had time to mourn. Well versed in the multi-martial-arts of a hundred cultures, she, with a small band of heroes, fought until she was the last one standing.

She owed it all to Perfesser Prof and The Fractal Rangers. He appeared in his fractal foaming craft, like a wild rocket blurring out of nowhere, leaking eddies of  multiverses, his van winkle beard twisting in the entropic currents, his wizened hands waving come on oh, Pop! come on! She got on and never looked back.

Pip, on the other hand, used dark arts and violent technologies that rendered her planet barely habitable to catapault herself into the metaflow of realities. She pursued Pop across dry tales, sent pirates after her in high seas adventures, was the dame from hell in noir, played the cold hearted bitch lawyer in massive litigation cases, was a constant thorn in the heel of the Fractal Rangers, all the while laying waste to the worlds within the multitude of multitudes.

So this concert, this artificial life was a last ditch effort of the Fractal Rangers to bait and permanently remove Princess Pip from the equation. Quarter through the final song, The Shards of God, Pop spotted a wraith detach itself from a speaker and swoop towards her. Perfesser Prof triggered a curtain of firebrands at stage front, obscuring the twins from the audience. But they didn't mind, as long as Pop sang. Prof had put on a recording. Pop faced off her sister.

The mirror was broken. The reflected did not reflect the reflectee. They stared at each other and smelled hyacinths from the recesses of memory. Princess Pip was a toothless crone, the horror of her history running through her blood. Her cloak, torn from the furies, moved restlessly upon her decimated frame. There was no room for words.

Princess Pip roared, raising corpse white arms.  She had forgotten why she hated her sister, only that all the pain in the pursuit was not to be for naught. She had subsisted on that rage and pain of others like a crow picks scraps of roadkill from the highway, and a meal of fraternal soul juice would do her right! The hieroglyphics of a tortured language tore through her throat, bringing flecks of blood speckling, and coloured the air with violent violet ideograms. They throbbed and wheeled, spinning into a white hot, flickering artifact, Princess Pop a shrinking black silhouette in the midst of all this light. The audience howled as The Shards of God broke apart in a scintillating mitosis, that would soon inexorably draw together  into a Big Crunch.

The artifact rose, spun on its axis to--hiss and fall apart like a bucket of incandescent water. Pip collapsed! The failed magic ran across the stage, corroding the stainless steel. Princess Pop's boots sizzled. A couple of concert goers yelped, burnt. Pip lay, a bundle of rags and bones, her neck skewed at a bad angle. Her eyes regarded Princess Pop like an injured puppy's,  the whites mostly showing.

Diaphanous, bleached of colour and substance, the lines of Pip's flesh were transparent. She was spread wide and thin, her selves losing objective and straying into lost tales of pain and betrayal, of the disgruntled Catholic mother of twenty children scrubbing pans, of the woman and her smoking gun sent to jail after the murder of a wealthy husband, of the prostitute under the hands of one Jack or another, of the desperate girl and a final candle in snowy streets. Pop was overcome with pity. They had not needed to bait her! All they had to was wait until Pip extinguished herself, her component pieces lost in the megaflow.

In a final agony of movement, Pip moved her mouth into a semblance of words, a creaking vowel falling into a murmur then rising in a sharp intake s trembling into an ohhhrrrweee. Pip faded, a darkroom trick. Pip's lines, her organic definitions, twinkled into the ether. The stuff of worlds had reclaimed what was left of her. Pop, vital and eternally in the prime of her life, wept as the flames arched above. The song, at its apogee, cut out.

The lights went out.

The End

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