Lisa Lansing walked to her desk at The Herald Chronicle, put down her briefcase, dropped into her seat and sighed. Her co-workers, who'd either started work early or were getting coffee, paid little attention, which was actually how Lisa preferred it. That was why she dressed as she did, in conservative suits tailored so that, while they couldn't hide her magnificent figure, they at least toned it down. Her shoulder-length auburn hair was pulled back into a ponytail and her riveting caramel-colored eyes were hidden behind her glasses. People seldom looked at her twice, except maybe to comment on her resemblance to actress Kellie Martin.

Blending into the background this way enabled Lisa to know that her alter ego was safe. She had enough problems without someone learning that her off-hours were spent battling evil as Miracle Maiden!

This, however, explained her current state of tiredness. It wasn't physical; since beginning meditation and yoga, Lisa found that she seldom needed more than two or three hours of sleep a night. Her exhaustion was mental. She had spent a week scouring the city for the escaped villainess, the Harpy, but with no luck. She'd foiled several bank robberies, two kidnappings, a rape and more muggings than she could count, but it meant nothing with Harpy at large.

Lisa turned on her computer and, after a quick look around, went to her secret e-mail account, the one called "akamm." She was hoping one of her street snitches had heard SOMETHING...but to no avail. Lisa then checked her office e-mail.

Suddenly, her eyes popped open wide. Dr. Sanderson was expecting a shipment of astro-quartz to be delivered today? Damn, why had they waited on sending out the press release? Lisa forwarded the message to her editor, along with a note that she would be checking it out. Then she grabbed her purse and ran for the elevator.

* * *

As Lisa crept down the alley towards the warehouse, she ran the facts over in her mind. Dr. Jennifer Sanderson had been the partner of Helen Arpel during the experiment that lead to the latter's transformation into Harpy...an experiment involving use of astro-quartz to power a transportation device. Then Harpy escapes a week before Dr. Sanderson takes delivery of more of the rare element? This HAD to be what Harpy was after!

The lock on the back door had been forced. After a week, Harpy could have recruited any number of henchmen... Lisa decided to play it safe and call for back-up before entering the building. She backed away from the door, pulling her cell phone from her purse and keeping her eye on the door the whole time.

Lisa bumped into someone. She whirled around to find herself face-to-face with a large, beefy man in a brown jumpsuit. On his left breast was a yellow circle around a brown bird-emblem, the symbol of the Harpy! Before she could react, the man shoved her. Lisa’s foot caught in a hole and she stumbled, cracking her head against the wall. Blackness engulfed her.

Lisa felt odd when she woke, almost as if she were floating. She tried to raise her hand to her aching head, but it wouldn’t move. That's when she realized that she had been tied up. Her eyes flew open as she began to investigate her situation.

Lisa’s wrists were crossed and bound behind her. A length of rope had been tied to her wrist-bonds and then wrapped around her waist several times. Her ankles and knees were also tied together, the cruel ropes digging into her shapely legs. The floating sensation was caused by a rope that had been tied over her chest, under her armpits, then fastened to the hook from a cargo crane that ran along the ceiling. Lisa's toes were about 3 inches off the floor. She enjoyed bondage under the right circumstances. But being held against her will by a psychotic supervillain was NOT the circumstance! She began to look for a means of escape.

Suddenly, someone walked by in the shadows of the warehouse. The figure stopped and stepped into the light. It was one of Harpy's henchmen. "Hey, boss," he called, "the skirt's awake!"

There was the sound of footsteps, then Helen Arpel, Harpy, stepped into the light, followed by the man who had captured Lisa and a woman, also wearing the uniform of Harpy's gang.

Harpy was a striking woman. High cheekbones, full breasts, long legs, tight ass, all packed into a brown body suit, boots and gloves, with a long gray cape that had a feather design on it. Yellow lines on her boots made a "bird's foot" design over her foot. The only thing detracting from her beauty was her odd coloring; her hair was a silvery gray and her eyes were golden.

Lisa had been in some tough spots, but this was awful. She decided to try to bluff her way out; it seemed her only chance.

"Who are you people? Look, I got lost and was just trying to find someone..." She let her explanation trail off as Harpy started to shake her head.

"Strike one, my dear," she said as she held up Lisa's purse. "Thanks to your ID, I know who you are, Miss Lansing. And I’m sure you know who I am. After all, you wrote about my capture. Called me a 'sorry, misguided woman, unhinged by a tragic laboratory experiment,' I believe. Now please, no more lies."

"Fine," Lisa said, "I was just stalling for time anyway. I called the police before you caught me. They’ll be here any minute."

Harpy looked at the big man, who shook his head and held up Lisa's cell phone. "She didn't even have a chance to turn it on before I grabbed 'er, Harpy."

"Thank you, Rock. Well, my dear, strike two."

"Well, my editor knows where I am! So do lots of other people. They'll come looking for me soon."

"Then why would you be trying to call someone on the phone? Strike three, I’m afraid." Harpy turned to the big man and pouted. "Rock, she's lying to me again. Please make her stop lying to me..."

Rock grinned as he walked up to Lisa and stuffed a large cloth between her full red lips. Then he covered her lips with a large piece of white tape...followed by another, then another, then another! By the time he was done, Lisa's lips were sealed with ten pieces of tape that criss-crossed and layered and prevented her from making any but the smallest sound.

Harpy walked up to Lisa. "I don't like reporters," she said with a sneer. "Especially reporters who say nasty things about me. Would you like to see the worst result of that 'tragic laboratory experiment' you wrote about?"

Harpy removed one of her gloves, and showed Lisa what was beneath. The radiation she had received had warped Helen Arpel's mind, altered her coloring, and made her resistant to injury. But the worse change was her hands, which had become gnarled, blackened talons with razor sharp claws. Lisa watched in wide-eyed horror ask Harpy stroked the captive girl's face, just soft enough to keep from breaking the skin. Finally, she clutched Lisa's tender white neck.

"Do you have any idea how easy it would be for me to slit your pretty little throat? These claws of mine can cut through mahogany; scratch stone! Imagine what they can do to mere flesh," she hissed.

"Mmmmm-hmmm. Ummm-mmmmph," Lisa whimpered piteously.

After a few seconds of enjoying the fear in Lisa’s eyes, Harpy grinned evilly. "But it's your lucky day, sweet cheeks. I happen to be in a playful mood!" She reached up and nicked the rope holding Lisa to the hook, but didn't cut it all the way through. "Rock," she called, never taking her eyes off Lisa, "lift her up."

The big man named Rock walked over and pushed a control button. The winch holding the hook began to retract, raising Lisa high above the warehouse floor. She saw the villains grinning up at her, and realized that they were looking up her skirt. She felt the blood rush to her face in embarrassment. Finally, her slow upward movement stopped, and she hung some 60 feet above the concrete floor.

"The rope holding you," Harpy said and she put her glove back on, "is weakened by my little nick. How long do you think it will support your weight? A minute? An hour? A day?"

"MMMMM! Mmmmmph-hmmmmph!" Lisa pulled at her bonds as she futilely tried to scream through her gag.

"I wouldn’t struggle if I were you...the shifting weight could make the rope snap sooner," Harpy called. As Lisa stopped her struggles, Harpy clapped her hands gleefully. "Oooh, the suspense is wonderful! I hope it lasts..."

Lisa lost track of how long she hung there, slowly twisting from the hook, listening to the creak of the rope as it strained under her weight. She was scared...more scared than she could remember being in a long time. She was bound and gagged, helpless, about to fall to her doom, and without any of her equipment. Things looked bleak. Finally, she heard Harpy again.

"I'd love to see how this plays out, dearie, but we must be going. I have people to kill, worlds to conquer... But you should feel free to hang around. And drop in whenever you’re ready!" With a viscous laugh, Harpy and her henchmen walked out of the warehouse, leaving Lisa to her fate.

Lisa had been trying to remain still to buy time, while her razor-sharp mind sought a means of escape. She had an idea, but she had to move quickly. First, the beautiful reporter lifted her legs up behind her, until she could grasp the high heels of her shoes. Then, with a grimace as she ruined a $75 pair of shoes, she snapped one of the heels off.

Lisa worked quickly, using the rough edge of the broken wood to pick at the rope around her waist. It was slow going, and she knew that every movement could be the one that snapped the rope above her. As the tension mounted, Lisa began to perspire. Her blouse clung to her heaving breasts as she tried to keep her breathing under control. If she panicked, she knew, it was all over.

After what seemed like an eternity, the rope parted, allowing Lisa to move her arms away from her body. She paused for just a moment in relief. Now came the real dangerous move. Lisa brought her knees up to her chest, curling her body into a tight ball. Then she swung her well-rounded buttocks through the loop formed by her bound wrists. As her legs pulled free, Lisa now had her hands in front of her. She swung them up and grabbed the cable supporting the hook just as the rope around her chest parted and fell to the floor.

Lisa was thankful for her hours of gymnastic practice as she hung there. Next she swung her legs up, catching the rope around her ankles on the hook. She let her arms hang free, leaving her suspended upside down. From this position, it was easy to pull the tape from her mouth and spit out the rag. Then, using her teeth, she undid the knots about her wrists. With her hands free, Lisa quickly clamored up the cable and climbed onto the track for the crane. She freed her legs and then lay back on the steel track, breathing deep sighs of relief.

When Lisa looked around she realized that there was no way for her to get down from her current position. At least, she thought with a grin, no way for Lisa Lansing to get down. She reached for her belt buckle and thumbed the hidden switch to her transformer belt. A soft glow built up from the buckle and surrounded the girl. When the glow subsided, Lisa Lansing had been replaced by Miracle Maiden!

While she appeared attractive as Lisa Lansing, as Miracle Maiden she was stunning. Her long auburn hair hung loosely about her shoulders, a silver headband with a crescent moon on her forehead. Her figure was no longer concealed; in fact it was on display. A bright red bustier cupped her full breasts, which were further decorated by a silver "MM" that followed the contour of the top. Blue trunks covered her shapely hips and buttocks; the two halves of the costume being separated by a wide silver belt that held her gadgets in hidden compartments. Red high-heel boots with silver stripes down the front, blue gloves topped with wide silver bracelets and a blue waist-length cape completed the outfit. Miracle Maiden removed her climbing line from her utility belt and began the decent to the ground.

* * *

Back on solid ground, Miracle Maiden pulled out her scanner and began to use it on the room. If she couldn’t find a clue to Harpy’s whereabouts, she was right back with she started, with nothing to show for her ordeal...except for some rapidly fading rope marks.

Wait! The scanner was detecting an odd foreign substance in a small spot on the floor. It was grease...specifically the kind of grease used to oil heavy machinery. But this was old, so where...? Then it hit her.

"Of course," Miracle Maiden said to herself as she ran for the door, her magnificent breasts bouncing with each step. "The old hydro-electric plant would be perfect for her needs. It was closed down when the flywheel cracked, and has been empty ever since."

Outside, Miracle Maiden hit the remote control to summon her Miracar. A quick drive to the old electricity plant, and then she planned to kick Harpy butt!

* * *

Operating in Stealth mode, the small, sleek futuristic sports car called the Miracar glided silently past the old energy plant and parked behind a large dumpster. The building LOOKED deserted, so Miracle Maiden checked the infrared scope. It told the attractive avenger an entirely different story.

"Lots of activity for an abandoned building," she thought. "And four...no, five human heat signatures. Oooh, and a skylight for observation and convenient entry. Guess I’d better get climbing!"

In a matter of minutes, Miracle Maiden had fired her climbing line to the roof, scaled to the top, and was crouching near the skylight. Inside, she saw a flurry of activity, with Harpy working furiously at some sort of computer console, while the smaller henchman and the girl made adjustments to equipment that looked like it came from a Star Trek movie.

After a few moments, two new players entered the scene. Rock walked in, carrying someone over his shoulder. There was a quick consultation with Harpy, then he dropped the female form into a chair. Miracle Maiden pulled out her minibinoculars to see whom it was.

Dr. Sanderson! Lisa could kick herself for being so dumb. Sure, stealing the astro-quartz would ruin the doctor’s research until more of the rare element could be found. But that would never be revenge enough for Harpy, who blamed Jennifer Sanderson for her condition. God only knew what fate the villainess had in store for that poor woman!

As Miracle Maiden prepared to drop in on the scene, she couldn’t help but think how attractive Dr. Sanderson was. Good figure, pert upturned nose, oval face, blue eyes and sandy brown-blonde hair cut in that "Friends" hair cut. Actually, she bore a bit of a resemblance to the girl from "Friends." She would have been lovely under any circumstances, but clad in only a white nightshirt; tied to a chair with her arms pulled behind her, rope framing her ample bosom, and her long sexy legs tied apart to the chair legs; and silenced by a thick black cloth between her teeth, she was a vision. In a fit of whimsy, Miracle Maiden thought that she could get good money if she took a couple pics to post on the Internet... Then she cleared her mind for the work ahead. With her line hooked to a solid pipe and attached to her belt, Miracle Maiden took some flash bombs in her hand, ran to the skylight, and jumped, feet-first, through the glass!

The powerful mini-winch in her climbing line lowered Miracle Maiden at a safe, but rapid speed towards the company below. Swooping down from above in her breast-plated outfit, with her cape billowing out behind her like wings, she looked less like a superheroine and more like some avenging goddess of justice.

"Rock, Brains, get her!" Harpy screamed.

As Rock and the other henchman reached for their guns, she tossed the marble-sized flash bombs to the floor and shielded her eyes. The bright flash blinded her opponents, making aim impossible.

Miracle Maiden kicked the guns from their hands, then swung over to smash Harpy back into the console. Then she smacked the release for the climbing line and dove into the villains. In a fury of leaps, kicks and chops, she temporarily incapacitated them. Then she ran over to Dr. Sanderson; getting her to safety had to be a priority.

The lovely Dr. Sanderson was shaking her head back and forth, trying to yell through her gag. Whatever it was, however, came out as "Nnnnnuuuuuu! Nnnnuuuuuu!"

Miracle Maiden recognized this as a warning too late. Her foot hit a concealed metal plate on the floor, and electricity arced through her seductive form. There was a moment of pain that seemed to last an eternity, then darkness.

* * *

As consciousness returned, Miracle Maiden was aware of a dull ache all over her body. Worse than that, she was willing to bet... Yep, bound and gagged, again! Why did this ALWAYS happen to her?

She pulled tentatively at her bonds, testing their strength and tightness. Harpy and her cronies had done a good job...too good! Miracle Maiden was seated in a heavy wooden chair, with her arms tied tightly, at the wrists and elbows, to the chair arms. Her knees were bound together, but her ankles were pulled out and lashed to the chair legs. There were ropes that went around her torso and waist, pressing them tight against the chairback, and a few turns over her lap, holding her thighs to the seat. There was a large red rubber ball-gag forced into her mouth, silencing any protests she might make.

Not that there was anyone to protest to. The chair was in the bottom of a small room in the floor, about 10 feet on each side and perhaps 15 feet deep. There was maybe a foot of water in the room. Cold water. Somehow, the costumed cutie knew that this meant trouble.

"Wakey, wakey, Miracle Maiden!"

Miracle Maid looked up and saw Harpy looking down at her from above. Dr. Sanderson was with her, still bound and gagged, as was the female henchman. The young girl was holding Dr. Sanderson, but she was also staring at Miracle Maiden with a look of lust in her eyes.

"Hmmm! Ummmph-ummmmmm hmmmm!" Of course, Miracle Maiden knew what she was saying, but cursing at Harpy when she couldn't be understood seemed very unsatisfying.

"Bet you thought I was going to be the one to die in a ten by ten foot room, huh? Wrong!" Harpy chuckled evilly at the irony of the situation. "That's why I decided to play this little game instead of just having Rock snap your neck. But it gets even better!"

"Mmmmmmmph!" Miracle Maiden screamed in anger.

"Where you are," Harpy continued, "is the excess catch basin for the plant...though we've closed the drain. In any event, when we start the plant up again in a few minutes, a small portion of the water that turns the turbine will flow in here, filling the basin and drowning you like a rat!"

"Nnnnngh! Nnnnnn mmmmmmm ummmmmph!" Miracle Maiden felt a chill run up her spine. She KNEW that water was trouble.

"By the time the basin is full, our capacitors will have stored up enough energy to focus through the astro-quartz," Harpy said, ignoring her captive's interruption. "About 99 percent of the energy will be reflected off of every major communications satellite in space. When that radiation blankets the earth, can you imagine the chaos?"

God, yes, Miracle Maiden thought. Harpy was totally insane. She wasn't out for money or power, she just wanted the whole human race to suffer as she did! "Mmmmmm! Mmmmunnnnummmm!"

"The OTHER one percent," Harpy said as she wrapped her arms around Dr. Sanderson, "will go into a chamber holding my dear friend, Jenny, here. You saw what the radiation did to me, and everyone else will get a small, but effective dose. But Jenny, you, my love, will get ten times the dose I received. I can't wait to see what it does to your lovely features!"

Jennifer Sanderson and Miracle Maiden both cried protests into their gags, both as effective as the mewling of kittens. Harpy laughed maniacally as she dragged the scientist away from the pit. Her henchwoman stayed for a while, until Harpy called, "Legs, come on!" Then Miracle Maiden was all alone.

Perhaps a minute went by before she heard the generator start and water started to enter the chamber. Eyes wide, Miracle Maiden's head flailed wildly as she looked for something, some chance of salvation. She was terrified. Her hands were held a good foot and half from her utility belt...no help there. Soon after she realized that she tended to get tied up every time she put on the costume, she studied escapology. There were several tricks to escape when tied to a chair, but the tended to be based on flipping the chair over to change the weight distribution. If she did that now, she'd only drown faster. And slowly the water rose...

Miracle Maiden pulled, tugged, and struggled against her bonds as best she could. It seemed hopeless. Her best hope lay in the mini-laser torch in her belt. Unfortunately, her fingers could only stretch to within two inches of the compartment, no matter how she wiggled or reached. If only there was some way to extend her reach! That was when she saw the tool. It looked like a wrench, lying next to the drain. One of Harpy's henchmen must have dropped it while closing the drain off! Miracle Maiden's heart beat faster with renewed hope, but this was still going to be VERY risky.

The water was up to her lap now, which made the chair a bit lighter. That helped as she began using her toes to carefully inch closer to the drain and that wrench. Finally, when she was practically on top of the tool, Miracle Maiden took as deep a breath as she could, filling her lungs and expanding her already impressive chest. Then she tipped the chair over.

It took a little bit of stretching but Miracle Maiden's fingers quickly closed on the wrench, which she used to pop the laser torch from its pocket. The wrench then helped her drag the torch to her hand. She thumbed the torch on and began to slice the ropes with it.

Her chest felt like it was on fire. Her lungs were ready to burst. Miracle Maiden slowly let some of the air escape from her nostrils to ease the pressure. That helped a little, but she knew it would only buy her a few more seconds. And if she let too much air from her lungs, they would try to inhale, which would be her doom.

Finally, her right arm was free. Now that she could get a better angle, the laser made quick work of the ropes on her lap and right leg. That gave Lisa the leverage she needed to push the chair back into an upright position. By this time, the water was up to her chin. Time was running out, but now it was just a matter of seconds. A few more quick slices with the torch, and Miracle Maiden was free! Then she fired her climbing line into the ceiling and let the winch lift her from the deathtrap.

* * *

Rock was bringing some coordinate readouts to the main room. Harpy was almost ready, she just wanted to double-check the satellites' positions. Suddenly, he saw Miracle Maiden standing in the hallway. He was dripping wet and looked scared and vulnerable.

"Please," she whimpered, "don't hurt me anymore. I can make you very happy, if you'll let me..."

Rock grinned lustfully as he advanced on the heroine. He'd had many babes in his time, but never a superbabe like this one. He did lots of work for Harpy; he deserved a bonus, right?

He never even saw the roundhouse kick and backfist combo that she threw at him. As he crumbled to the ground, Miracle Maiden brushed back her hair and said, "Chump."

* * *

Brains was following the circuitry back, double-checking all the connections. When the capacitors were full, there would be a lot of juice in these wires. One screw up would destroy the experiment, and Harpy would destroy him. One of the junction boxes looked wrong. He bent to examine it, then dropped to the ground as a red-booted toe smashed into his chin.

* * *

Harpy stepped from the chambers, smiled at the bound and gagged form of Jennifer Sanderson, and shut the door. Securing her was a small detail, but one she had reserved for herself. It was almost time. She turned to her console, and froze.

"It's over, Harpy," Miracle Maiden said from her position midway between the chamber and the console. Her legs were apart, her hands on her hips, her posture erect, her shoulders back and her chest forward. It was a stance that had intimidated many a criminal.

"NO! No it's not! It can't be!" Harpy threw her gloves to the ground and dove at her nemesis. In a perfectly executed judo throw, Miracle Maiden launched Harpy into one of the capacitors. Her sharp claws pierced the insulation, and her body was wracked by 20000 volts. Then she collapsed on the floor as Miracle Maid radioed the police and freed Dr. Sanderson.


Lisa Lansing hummed as she walked to her desk at The Herald Chronicle, put down her briefcase, dropped into her seat and smiled. Harpy was getting psychiatric treatments, Rock and Brains were in jail, Dr. Sanderson was doing her astro-quartz experiments under the tightest security available, and Lisa got another front page story. Despite the fact that Legs couldn't be found, things were DEFINITELY looking up, she thought as she opened the mail.

Suddenly Lisa's good mood evaporated. A large envelope on her desk held three grainy, underlit pictures of her. One showed Lisa Lansing standing atop the crane track back in the warehouse. The next showed her surrounded by a bright glow. The last showed Miracle Maiden in her place. Her blood ran cold as she realized that someone must know her secret identity!

Next Episode: The Secret Identity Trap