Hector 'He-man' Herman and his band of misfits were brawling their way to the fortress. The place was disguised to look like some rich mansion, but he knew that it was really the fortress of the evil witch. The glow-y woman with long flowing hair who'd popped out of a puddle had told him so. None of his friends needed to know that he was taking orders from a puddle-woman and so he kept pretending that the Powers That Be had swankier abodes than the ones he kept seeing.

They had been unable to catch any of the guards alone (for some reason they were all in pairs or threes) and so they'd rushed the main group, only to have it fall back as if these people cared for their own lives or something.

'Wait, they're not people,' he reminded himself as he went out of his way to punch another one and of course give them all a clear shot at his defenseless girlfriend. 'They're only mindless evil minions.'

His girlfriend, Shelly Shelton squealed, and clapped her hands to her mouth as the man he'd punched fell backwards and cracked his head on the mansions' front stairs. Hector knew she liked watching men beat each other up, especially if it was over her, and he'd let her come along since he knew it meant action that night.

Speaking of men he had fought for Shelly, Hector looked to his right where his best friend and former enemy was wailing on one of the guards he's managed to catch, all the while shouting about avenging the evils done by their evil boss and bringing all of them to justice. Bruce Buellton had always wanted to be a superhero, and he was making the best of being sidekick, but Hector kept an eye on him just in case Bruce ever stepped out of line and tried to upstage him.

And then there was Stake linger behind the rest of them, taking care of the few guards that did get up again. Hector knew that he was half something and though curious what that other half was, he had never quite worked up the courage to ask. Those solid black eyes unnerved him more than he wanted to admit. Stake was the one other people whispered about, the one nobody talked to and nobody really knew anything about and he'd acted like he liked it. Of course Hector couldn't stand to see another man so rejected, just because he had kinda pointy ears, and maybe his teeth looked a little sharper than most, plus Stake had the meanest right hook he'd ever seen, he'd gone out of his way to back the guy up in a fight and they'd been friends ever since. Not that Stake would admit he knew what that word meant.

Inside the foyer Shelly stopped to drool at their surroundings, running a hand over the fine wood of the banister lining the grand staircase and staring at the chandelier hanging over the center of the room, which was three stories high. The men were doing more manly things, like trying to decide which way would take them to the evil witch, and what exactly they should steal on their way out.

"Basement!" Bruce shouted. "Evil lairs are always in the basement, haven't you guys seen the movies?"

"Yeah, but the entrance to the secret basement lair is always on the first floor somewhere. I think we should try to find a statue. They normally hide switches on 'em," Hector countered.

Stake stood a couple feet away, sniffing the air and looking around.

"So we should look around the rooms up here?" he said, eyes fixed on a pair of doors a few feet away.

"Exactly what I said," Hector said, striding in the direction Stake had been staring.

Shelly snapped out of her daze and trotted after him while the other two brought up the rear.

"Now remember guys, we have to be quiet. We gotta keep the element of surprise."

"Surprise, right," Bruce said in a voice that would carry through stone.

"We also have to remember the amulet," Stake added and Hector nodded.

"Don't worry. The second we find her I'll set it off. Then, bye-bye evil witch!"

In her office Hecate turned to the next page and rolled her eyes. If they thought that was stealthy she was going to have to activate a muffling charm to preserve her hearing once they did confront her. She could hear them oh-so-stealthily crashing through her parlor and living room and just hoped they hadn't broken anything valuable. The hallway outside her door began to hum, its own version of a warning siren. She closed the book and carefully slid it back into its spot on the bookshelf before closing the glass door. She had taken to using legal bookcases in her office after the blood just kept getting on her books, and it was a far sight more attractive than having to wrap the whole thing in plastic every time someone needed disposing of.

The door crashed open and four teenagers rushed into the room, the one in the lead playing with a necklace of some kind. They came to a stop in the center, facing her desk, though the shorter, stocky one had to be turned in the correct direction by his friends before he could shake his fist at her.

"And to what do I owe the honor of this evening's bout of trespassing? If you think I'm going to hand over my money and show you where the safe is, you're sadly mistaken."

"We're not burglars!" the tall one in the front with the attitude problem yelled. "We're here to defeat you, the evil witch, and put an end to your criminal ways."

"What criminal ways?" Hecate asked, doing her best to force her face into a surprised expression, but it was difficult; she was bored already. "As far as I can tell you four are the criminals at the moment."

"We know about your criminal empire!" the stocky one shouted, brandishing the fist again. Then pausing he glanced around at his friends before whispering: "She is the witch, right?"

Dressed in a pink cashmere sweater, jeans and loafers, with red, polka-dotted reading glasses, the middle-aged woman before them did not quite fit any of their previous ideas of an evil witch, except perhaps for the fact that she had black hair.

"Have you informed the proper authorities of these allegations?" she said, carefully removing the glasses and placing them on the desk.

"Don't try and trick us!" Shelly shrieked, putting a protective hand on the Hector's arm. "You're a witch, nobody's going to believe that, but you have to be stopped!"

Hecate sighed and let her fingers trace across her blotter. She could feel the effects of the necklace the boy was wearing, and it was obvious someone far more competent had been responsible for its construction. She though she could still summon a pen from the other side of the desk she doubted she would be able to blast these little miscreants into a million tiny pieces with her usual ease. She eyed the candle stick and decided that Miti had been right about that being too messy. It didn't help that she wasn't quite as sprightly anymore.

"What do you want?" she asked, spreading her hands above the desk and trying her best to look unthreatening. It would be a waste to go witchy on these children anyway.

"To end you and stop your diabolical plot to build a doomsday device!"

"So you plan to murder me in cold blood for a few papers?" she asked, her eyes sliding to the window.

There was a movement in the shadows and she caught sight of swishing tales and glowing green eyes. Technically the brats had yet to attack her and her subordinate was waiting for a signal. Hecate paused and decided to give it a few more minutes. It was possible there was a way to deal with this headache that would not require her office smelling of bleach for the next week.

"Tell us where the device is!" Hector called, stepping forward, his chest puffed out and his hair appropriately, and heroically, disheveled. "Then we might let you live."

"That sounds an awful lot like blackmail. Unfortunately children, the device is merely a set of drawings at this point. You have no idea how hard it is to get hold of antimatter these days. Why when I was young you could do it with a witch and two or three goons. Nowadays there's retina scans and—" she paused, remembering her tendency to blather on about the difficulties of being evil and just how much work actually went into her plots. "And now for the monologue," she deadpanned, reaching forward across the desk to hit 'play' on the tape recorder sitting on the corner. A sudden cackle burst forth, causing the heroes to jump in surprise and scrunch together.

"I'll get you my pretty!" The harsh voice called out. "You, and your little dog too! You cursed brat, look what you've done! What a world!"

"What the Hell?" the heroes demanded, separating slightly from their huddle.

"Well people expect an evil witch to give a monologue at times like these," she replied calmly. "And I'm not doing it; you'll attack me when I'm not paying attention."

"But that's the Wicked Witch of the West!" Bruce said and Hecate was impressed that he had that much mental capacity; she still doubted he knew the difference between right and left.

She shrugged. "Sorry I'm not green, but then, most competent witches aren't."

"Look, give us the plans, it's not too late to stop your evil ways," the useless girl said, stepping forward, attempting to be sympathetic. Hecate's hand inched towards the candlestick.

"And how would you define evil?" the woman asked, forcing herself to lean back in her chair and steeple her hands. "Is doing one's utmost for the safety of her family evil? Is seeking the very best for those who are dear to you evil?" She leaned forward suddenly, leaning her elbows on her desk and lacing her fingers. "What about breaking and entering on a private citizen's property or threatening the life of a well-respected member of the community, not to mention the lives of her employees and children?"

"We would never harm innocent bystanders!"

"You have children?!"

"Four," she sighed. "Two boys and two girls, a set from each of my marriages."

"You're married?"

With another sigh and a slight drop in her shoulders she held up her left hand so they could all see the gold and diamonds winking in the lamplight.

"What happened to your first husband?" Stake asked, apparently the only one unimpressed by this information.

"He attempted to double-cross someone in a deal. They were not pleased."

"Mom." All the intruders jumped at this new voice coming from the doorway. Their heads swiveled in unison to land on the little boy in footie pajamas, holding a slightly ragged teddy bear.

"Aw," Shelly cooed, not noticing the skull and cross bones on teddy's eye patch, or the cold look the boy shot her.

"Sweetie pie, Mommy's busy working right now and you're supposed to be in bed. You're sick, remember?"

"But Mom," the little boy whined, semi-strangling his teddy bear in frustration. "Dad was supposed to tuck me in. It's his turn!"

"Daddy's working late tonight, he can tuck you in tomorrow. Now go back to bed, Theo." She made shooing motions but the little boy stomped across the room to her desk.

"Daddy's working late?' You've got to be kidding me," 'He-man' Hector laughed. "What does he do, is he a mad scientist?"

"If you must know my husband is a surgeon. Tonight was his turn to take the night shift in the ER." She pushed her chair back from her desk and her son climbed into her lap before she rolled forward again. "Which one of you cares to explain to my seven-year-old son why you all happen to be in my study?"

Herman glanced from his sidekick to his girlfriend. The Powers That Be never told him they were sending him to whack a soccer mom. Shelly was still making cutesy faces at the kid and Bruce looked even more confused than Hector felt. Stake however, looked kind of hungry, which was just about as helpful as the confusion.

"Well?" Hecate asked.

The kid leaned forward suddenly, grabbing at the small bust of Socrates that sat off to the left side of the desk. "Gator door!" he laughed, tipping the head backwards. The four heroes never had a chance to respond. The floor beneath them shuddered and then suddenly was gone. Hecate blinked in surprise as the four fell out of sight and the sounds of wild splashing floated to her ears. Then the screaming started and Theo righted the bust, still laughing manically. The floor rematerialized, intact, without any new stains, and the sounds were cut off.

"Good job sweetie, I forgot all about that one."

"I love the gator door!" Theo exclaimed, bouncing up and down on her lap. "ARRR. Gator chomp!" He grabbed the teddy bear and shook it so violently the eye patch flew off and its head snapped back and forth.

"Miti!" Hecate called through the open window and the younger woman stuck her head into the room. "Go down there, make sure they're dead, decapitation, all that."

"Consider it done Mama Bear."

"I'll consider it done when you do it."

"Pishaw, semantics, semantics," she said and disappeared into the darkness of the garden, where the actual entrance to the secret basement lair was hidden.

"Ok sweetie, now it's really time for bed, but thank you for helping!"

"Mom, you should always use the Gator Door; they like it so much better when they get something to play with!"

I thought I should at least attempt to wrap this up, though I'm not terribly pleased with this chapter. I'm not sure if I'll post further adventures of Hecate, maybe if I get bored.