Gwen the Shadow had never ridden in the Hoop Mobile before. The experience thrilled her to her entire core. There were so many buttons! She wanted to press them all!
“Hey, Grand Master Portal, what does this button do?” She pointed to a shiny blue button above her head.
“It releases a flood of water from the back of the car to drown out any enemies.” He spoke with the tone of voice of a man who had explained this particular button to dozens of people before Gwen.
Gwen, however, did not notice. “What does THIS button do?” She asked, pointing to a dull green button near the radio.
“It plays the dubstep satellite radio station.”
“Oh. What about THIS one?”
Grand Master Portal didn’t look to see which button she was pointing to. “It ends time,” he said.
Gwen pulled her hand back and gasped. “Really?”
For a few moments, the car was silent. Then, “What does THIS button do?”
Grand Master Portal sucked in a deep breath. “Gwen, listen. There are a lot of buttons in the hoopmobile. A lot. I’m not going to explain what each and every button does. If you stick around long enough, you’ll probably figure it out on your own, but for the time being, why don’t we just try being quiet, hmm?”
Gwen nodded, put her hands in her lap, and stared quietly out the window, where she saw the black car. It was in the opposite far lane, but driving at the same speed as the hoopmobile. She watched it for a minute or so. It kept pace.
“Um…” she said cautiously, not wanting to upset Grand Master Portal again, “…there’s a car over there,” she said.
Grand Master Portal grunted. “This is the highway. There’s lots of cars.”
“Right, I know that, but there’s a BLACK car over there. And I think it might be following us.”
Grand Master Portal looked to where Gwen pointed. He saw the car, and slowed down a bit. The black car slowed down, too. He sped up, and so did the black car.
“Gwen, I’m going to ask you press a button, but you can’t do it until I tell you to, okay?”
Gwen sat upright. A button! For her to press! Her first real crime fighting duty! “I’ll do it!” Her fingers twitched with anticipation. “Which button?”
Grand Master Portal pointed to a yellow button right in front of her. “That one.”
Gwen clenched and unclenched her fingers, waiting for when Grand Master Portal would grant her the opportunity to press the button.
They rode in silence for a few moments. “Where are they now?” Grand Master Portal asked.
“Now?” Gwen squealed, slamming her finger on the button.
“NO! Not now!” He screamed.
But it was too late.
The road beneath them opened up and the hoop mobile fell through it, landing with a crash on the road beneath the highway. The vehicle sat sideways across the road.
“CRAP.” Grand Master Portal cranked the wheel and pulled the car out of the way at the last minute, just as a semi truck whizzed by, nearly broadsiding them.
“That was COOL!” Gwen shouted. “Can I push another button?”
Grand Master Portal gritted his teeth as he sped down the road. “NO.” He saw in his rearview mirror that the black car had exited, and was now following behind them.
“I didn’t mean press the button now, I was asking where the black car was. In a few miles, there was a federation tunnel we could have taken to escape. Now we’ve just made ourselves much more conspicuous.”
Gwen realized that meant she had messed up. “Oh,” she said, hanging her head. “I’m sorry.”
“Just…don’t push any more buttons, okay?”
Gwen sniffed. Not only had she messed up, but she’d lost her chance to push more buttons.
Grand Master Portal couldn’t worry about the fact that Gwen was sitting in the passenger seat sniffling, because he had to get away from the black car, which was rapidly gaining on them.
He momentarily thought of his jigsaw puzzle back home and sighed.
The black car sped up and zoomed in front of them. There was no time for Grand Master Portal to slam on the breaks. He crashed into the car. Both vehicles skidded off the road into a nearby ditch. Grand Master Portal jumped out of the car and Gwen joined him.
“Get your hoop ready,” he whispered, as he slipped the green, black and gold glinting ring from his finger.
Gwen nodded silently. She’d never been in a high speed chase, or a car crash before, and now that she had been, she suddenly felt very serious about the whole matter. Fighting crime could be risky business. She pulled off her ring, too.
The driver and passengers of the black car climbed out, advancing toward Grand Master Portal and Gwen the Shadow quickly.
“You hold them off until I’m ready, okay?” Grand Master Portal whispered to Gwen.
“Not a problem,” Gwen replied. This is what she’d been practicing for, after all. She crouched down, shaking out her hoop so it was full sized and battle-ready. Then, as the first of the two goons got close, she threw her leg up in the air and spun around once, tossing her hoop over her shoulder boomerang style. It slammed into the enemy’s stomach, pitching him backward, before returning effortlessly to her.
“Yes!” She shouted, mainly to herself, jumping up and down. “Did you see that?”
“Theres’s another one, Gwen,” Grand Master Portal pointed behind her, where the second goon was reaching around to grab her by the neck.
Gwen swung the hoop up and over her head, trapping the man inside it, then pulled hard so he fell over. She dropped the hoop down to her knees, where she spun it wildly, getting the momentum up, then quickly jumped out. The hoop flew at the man, now on the ground, and hit him square between the eyes.
“Good, Gwen, I’ve almost got this.”
Grand Master Portal had, this whole time, been holding his hoop steady in the air, while tracing its own circle around and around itself. The faster he pulled the hoop through the single point in space, the weaker the bonds holding the present location became. Finally, a blast of light emitted from the center of the hoop, and a hole appeared in the air.
“Look out, Gwen!” He shouted. Gwen ducked out of the way, and Grand Master Portal held the hoop steady as the two goons were sucked through the hoop. The light faded, as did the portal.
Gwen stood up and brushed off her pants. Grand Master Portal pushed the button on his hoop, it shrunk back down to a ring, and he slid it on his finger.
“Those guys have to be working for Murkwater. He knows we’re onto him. We’ll have to travel a little more incognito from here on out,” Grand Master Portal said as he walked back to the hoopmobile.
“Hey, where did you send those guys?” Gwen asked, following after him.
“Michigan,” he said. “It’s been a while, and it was the first place that popped into my mind.”
“Cool,” Gwen sighed reverently.
Tune in next week for another exciting episode of the International Federation for Hoop Justice.