A Little Lollipop

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Doctor Isabel Helga Anastasia Parvati Wondertainment V stared at a stick.

It was, technically speaking, a magic stick, but there are some things so dully mundane that just slapping the descriptor ‘magic’ in front of them doesn’t do a whole lot to spice them up, and a stick is one of those things.

It was also a big stick; about three feet long. Not long enough to use for a walking stick though; not at her height, at least. Its size and its magic were its two solely remarkable features. Yep. It was a big, magic, stick.

There was nothing more to be said about it.

Isabel ‘hmmed’ and ‘hawed’ over it for a few minutes, occasionally poking it to see if it would do anything, before tossing it aside for three of her Jeremies to play with.

“Emma, may I see that note again please?” she requested of her assistant.

“Of course, Ma’am,” Emma replied curtly, picking up the note that her employer had unceremoniously tossed to the ground without a second thought and handing it back to her. The ornate letterhead bore the logo of Marshall, Carter, & Dark at the top, followed by a calligraphic ‘From The Desk Of Iris Dark’.

To Doctor Isabelle,” Isabel tossed her head back and groaned after reading only the first three words (and ‘to’ seemed more like half a word, so not even three words). “Master of Nomative Magic and she spells my name wrong?"

"Would you prefer me to read it for you, Ma'am?"

Isabel threw it in the air again as she slumped back in her chair, only for Emma to catch it with a precision honed from years of Isabel throwing stuff that ought not be thrown.

To Doctor Isabelle Helga Anastasia Parvati Wondertainment, I wish to extend my sincere and -”

“She forgot the V too? That’s like the best part of my name!”

“ – my sincere and heartfelt -”

Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me 'V',”.

“- gratitude for your services in rescuing me from the deepest and most horrific dungeons of The Factory.”

“Absolutely nothing about that sentence seems sincere or heartfelt. ‘Deepest and most horrific dungeons’, blah! She sounds like an old British fantasy novel.”

"That doesn't exactly sound like an insult, Ma'am."

“Well, it is.”

“Would you like me to finish it?”


As a token of my appreciation, please accept this handcrafted staff of thaumaturgically reactive Ravelwood, which I am certain a mage of your calibre can put to good use.

Yours Truly, Iris Dark.

Isabel glared at the stick as Jeremy balanced it vertically on his nose like a dog treat.

“How much is Iris Dark worth, do you think?” she pondered.

“That’s somewhat hard to say since MC&D is a privately held company, but based on what information is available, a conservative estimate of her net worth would be at least 40 billion US dollars, and that’s excluding anomalous and unique assets that cannot be traditionally appraised,” Emma replied.

“And what’s that stick worth?”

“Literally less than nothing. It’s yard waste. People would pay to get rid of it,” was Emma’s matter-of-fact response.

“But it’s a magic -”

“Stick, yes.”

“But it’s a… big -”

“Again, stick.”

“But -”



Isabel hung her head in defeat, lazily shuffling her Heelyed feet back and forth.

“I suggest we let Jeremy keep it and move on to other matters,” Emma said. She waited patiently for a moment, but Isabel seemed determined to sulk. “If you really want, we can send Ms. Dark a letter expressing your dissatisfaction with -”

“I got it!” Isabel screamed, grabbing a pen and rapidly scribbling and jotting in her notebook. Less than a minute later she shoved the hastily finished blueprint in her assistant’s face. “Wha’d’ya think?”

“I think I’m nearsighted and haven’t the slightest idea what you’ve drawn,” Emma said truthfully.

“Good enough for me!” Isabel declared as she leapt to her feet and rolled into the hall. “Come Jeremy, and bring the yard waste!”

Jeremy barked in the affirmative, scurrying as fast as he could on his little legs while keeping the stick upright.

In the Workshops of Wonder, the song Lollipop by the Cordettes played on a continuous loop as Dr. Wondertaintment poured various ingredients into a stainless-steel vat. Sugar and water, of course, a few trademarked Wondertainment secrets, and most importantly of all, tiny bubbles for holding Wonderlight.

Isabel stirred the concoction with her stick, reciting rhyming couplets of spells as silly as they were ancient, her eyes shining brightly as she did so, never once looking away from the vat.

When she deemed the boiling brew to be ready, she poured some of it into a spherical mould she had prepared beforehand and shoved the stick into it until it hardened.

While she waited, she poured the rest of the mix onto multiple cooling tables where she applied several shades of pink and purple food dyes. When they were ready, she stretched them out by hand, wearing cotton gloves to give the candy an extra shine. Pulling and rolling them all into a single striped tube, she curled them into a swirl lollipop two feet across. Instead of a stick, she affixed it with a pair of hot pink nylon straps on the back.

She rolled some left-over lollipop into a small orb and stuck it onto the rear of the wooden stick. She broke the mold on the top end and immediately plunged the still warm candy head into a chilled tank of Cherry Causta Cola™, quenching it rapidly. When the cola finally stopped boiling, Isabel pulled the giant lollipop out to inspect her work.

“Emma!” she shouted. “I need you to make an appointment.”

The Workshops of Wonder were located in Doggerland, AKA the North Sea during the last Ice Age when the sea levels were lower. Reginald Wondertainment, liking the name of the place, decided to engage in retro-active Climate Denial and believe it was still above water so he could headquarter his company there. Those who objected to this decision on the grounds that it made absolutely no sense only encouraged him further. As such, The Workshops of Wonder presided over a lovely corner of English/Scandinavian countryside that by all logic should have been submerged, making mad whimsy essential for the inhabitants’ very survival.

While being time-phased 12,000 years in the past (or at least that was the closest thing to a scientific explanation to what was going on) served as an excellent safeguard against enemy attacks, it did make shipments and business meetings a bit tricky. Emma largely negated that though, with her innate comprehension of the mathematics of intersecting, higher-dimensional worldlines.

Sure enough, exactly as Isabel, Emma, and Jeremy, reached the Doctor Wondertainment ‘Seriously, Don’t Try This At Home Kids!’ Testing Range™, they were greeted by a purple Porsche pulling into a parking space.

“Icky, Lolly, how’ya doing? Thanks so much for coming. Did you have any trouble finding the place? You didn’t just drive into the water, did you? Some people do that. You don’t look like you did that though. You look dry to me. Are you thirsty actually? Can I get you something? We probably have the biggest selection of sugary drinks anywhere in, ah…” Doctor Wondertainment trailed off as Icky shifted her Porsche into ‘Park’ and greeted her with a silent, intimidating glare. “…are you still mad at me? You look mad. Please say you’re not still mad at me. How can you still be mad at me? It’s been… days, at least? I’m not sure, I’m not good with calendars. My dad once demanded one of our staffers take down a pin-up calendar in a room I frequented because he didn’t think it was good for me, but I didn’t understand why and he wouldn’t explain why so I just developed a deep-seated mistrust of all calendars.”

Icky folded her hands and waited for a moment until she was certain Isabel was done speaking.

“You enabled my business partner, and oldest friend, to go on a suicidal mission to The Factory,” she reminded her coldly.

“And I saved him from The Factory, so it cancels out,” Isabel claimed.

"Now Icky, we've been over this. You and I take dumb risks all the time, and Manny doesn't hold that against us, so we don't have any right to be mad at him or Wondertainment,” Lolly soothed her, sympathetically rubbing her arm.

“But when we do something stupid, we’re just acting on impulse! We don’t plan it out ahead of time!” Icky objected.

“That doesn’t make it better. It’s worse, if anything,” Lolly whispered. Icky groaned in reluctant agreement.

“So everything’s cool then?” Isabel asked hopefully. Icky swung her head back around at her, her expression even more livid than before.

“We’ve also yet to received so much as an apology for the time when we were gay-bashed by a giant robot at Wonder World!" she exclaimed.

“Tee Emm, and I told you I can’t control what Wonder World™ does, they think I’m a cartoon!” Isabel vindicated herself.

"And you were technically resisting arrest," Emma chimed in. Isabel spun around and made rapid throat-cutting gestures at her while shaking her head.

“Ahhhh…. Oh my god, is that Jeremy?" Lolly asked, desperately trying to change the subject. She hopped out of the Porsche and immediately began cuddling the corgi. "Hi, little guy! Who's a naughty boy sneaking into our girls-only meeting? That’s right, you are! You’re a naughty boy! Yes, you are! Yes, you -"

She collapsed into a fit of giggling as the dog licked her face. As they played, Isabel took off her hat and assumed an apologetic posture towards Icky.

“Listen, I really want us and our two businesses to get along,” she began. “And I admit that the whole Factory debacle was at least partially my fault, and Wondertron 9000™ was my dad’s robot, so I feel somewhat responsible for that as well, which is why I want to make a peace offering.”

Icky closed her eyes, released a deep breath through her nose, and stepped out of the car.

“So, what is it, then?” she asked, impatiently folding her arms across her chest.

“Yes! You’re going to love it! So, when I dropped Manny off, and you had Lolly take out her mallet to… intimidate us, let's say, I noticed that the head was held on with tape,” Isabel explained.

“It got decapitated in a fight with Able,” Lolly claimed as she got up from the ground and wiped off the dog slobber.

“Right, so I – wait, really? Ah, it doesn’t matter. So, I thought you could use a replacement, but not exactly the same since the hammer made you, kind of, well, ah… Emma?”

“You’re a pallet swap of Harley Quinn,” Emma said frankly.

“Yeah, that.”

Both Icky and Lolly twisted their faces in shock at the accusation.

“I. Am. Not!” Lolly gasped. “Other than the hammer, I have nothing in common with Harley Quinn that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of being a female Clown! Sure, I watched Batman The Animated Series as a kid, and I liked Harley, so I can’t say that I was completely uninfluenced by her depiction, but I am not just a palette swap of her!”

“… Batman TAS was great, wasn’t it?” Isabel asked. “The schizo tech is a little weird at times, though. People are working on typewriters and Batman has video calling in the Batmobile? Though maybe that’s just economic inequality.”

“Ma’am,” Emma prodded gently.

“Right, focus. So I was thinking that since your hammer’s broken and possibly subject to copyright infringement, I can make you something better! And why rip off DC when you can rip off Marvel? Emma, show them what I’m talking about.”

Emma opened up a velvet-lined wooden chest to display the fruits of Doctor Wondertainment’s handiwork. Inside was a three-foot-long sucker-style lollipop with a dark, lacquered stick, sparsely studded with pink sapphires. The candy head was a bright, sparkling, faintly luminescent pink, and bore a raised equator embossed with Wondertainment W’s. The candy was slightly translucent, and at the center, a very small bright spot could just barely be made out. The other end held a much smaller orb of shiny pink and purple swirl candy, and each end was bound by a brass ring.

Isabel took it out and presented it to Lolly, holding it so that she could read a golden inscription along its length:

‘Whosoever holds this novelty-sized lollipop, if she be worthy, shall possess the power of The Wonder-Maker’.

Lolly’s eyes went wide and bright as she gently ran her fingers along it.

“The stick is Ravelwood, isn’t it?” she asked in quiet astonishment.

“Yes. Extremely rare. Next to impossible to get a hold of,” Isabel said, with a brief darting of her eyes. “It will channel your own magical energies into the candy, which is made from alchemically enhanced saccharose, infused with my own Wonderlight. Both the wood and the candy are nearly unbreakable - Doctor Wondertainment is not legally or financially liable for any orthodontic damage incurred during attempts at mastication - and you can use it to enhance your own magic, both in defense and for your act. A big lollipop seemed thematically appropriate for you, Li'l Lollipop.”

“You put your own Wonderlight into this?” Lolly asked in disbelief. “I… I can’t accept this. It’s too much.”

“I want you to have it,” Isabel insisted. Lolly looked up at her and the two of them locked gazes. Within Isabel’s large, lavender eyes were countless specks of primordial energy; they were deep, boundless wells of cosmic wonder, and in that moment Lolly knew she was not speaking simply to Isabel, but to the Wonder-Maker. “Lolly, I could tell from the second I first saw you that you’re filled with Wonderlight. That despite being a Freak who’s constantly on the run from Jailors and Book Burners, despite the horrors you’ve experienced and the people you’ve lost, despite knowing truly Eldritch evils exist, and even just in spite of the more mundane suffering of enduring bigotry and having a neglectful mother, you’ve never lost your sense of Wonder, your joie de vivre, your unflappable hope that things will get better and your dauntless drive to make them better. Your passion to share that Wonder with others is what led you to the Circus, and would have led you to us if we’d been lucky enough to find you first. Your Wonderlight shines bright, little one, and the world is more wonderful for it. So please, take my gift, and keep that light safe for me.”

Lolly nodded as joyous tears of near-religious rapture fell down her cheeks.

“Thank you, Wonder-Maker,” she gasped softly, clutching the Wondrous lollipop to herself as Icky cradled her and wiped her tears. The light in the Wonder-Maker’s eyes retreated back to their hidden depth, and before them was Isabel Wondertainment V once more.

“And get this; it comes with an accessory!” She reached into the chest and pulled out the swirl lollipop shield she had made with the leftover candy base. “This isn’t quite as powerful without the Ravelwood, but the more energy it absorbs the stronger it gets, and it’s enchanted to attract projectiles so it will even protect the parts of you it doesn’t cover. If I did my math right, even the Gocker’s magitech bullets shouldn’t get past this thing.”

“And it’s Femme Pride colours! Yay!” Lolly squeed as she strapped it to her left forearm.

“Well, it’s not exactly -”

"Any colours, iconography, designs, catchphrases, mannerisms, or combat maneuvers used in Wondertainment products bearing similarities to those utilized by any and all identifiable individuals or social groups are purely coincidental and should not be interpreted as endorsement or condemnation of said individuals or groups,” Emma recited.

“What she said,” Isabel said, pointing at her assistant. “If you want to test those out, I’ve already set up some live-fire exercises for you to complete.”

“Oh, can we Icky? Can we, can we, can we, please?” Lolly pleaded. Icky glanced out at the testing range nervously, then back to Lolly, guiltily biting her lip.

“… Don’t tell Manny.”

“Ready, baby girl?” Icky shouted as she stood at the start of the testing range, all of her trick cards held in a purple aura, orbiting around her.

“Ready Icky,” Lolly shouted from about fifty feet away, her lollipop hammer in her right hand and her shield in her left.

Icky immediately flicked her cards at her, one after the other in rapid succession at ballistic speeds, each aimed at a slightly different target. Lolly sprinted off, her shield held high, with the cards giving chase. No matter where they had been aimed, once they drew near they inevitably veered off course and crashed into the shield, the aura flickering out and falling harmlessly to the ground. Icky followed in close pursuit, telekinetically gathering her cards as she did so, and once she had every one of them she sent all 54 of them zooming at Lolly simultaneously in a diamond pattern. Lolly slid to a stop and slammed the shield into the volley, creating a shockwave that sent them flying in all directions, dispersing them enough to keep Icky busy for a bit.

From the watchtower overlooking the testing range, Emma noted this and flipped a switch to deploy an army of Straw Men; Straw Gollums made physically and mentally in the image of a G.O.C. strike team, and easily put back together afterward.

The Straw Men charged straight for Lolly, firing assault rifles loaded with magitech bullets. Just as Isabel had promised, they all veered straight into the shield and ricocheted off in every direction. They were defenseless as Lolly vented her full hatred of the Coalition against them, bashing each into debris with a single forceful strike of her hammer. Once the first squad was taken care of, Emma released another. Before they could even get close to Lolly she threw the hammer so that it spun as rapidly as a saw blade. It plowed through each of the Gollums and returned to her like a boomerang, leaving nothing standing in its wake.

Emma flipped another switch, deploying several small bi-wing fighter crafts, each piloted by a Jeremy. Each one swooped down at Lolly from a different direction, successfully employing evasive maneuvers to avoid her hammer throws. It was then that Lolly noticed the shield looked an awful lot like a Frisby.

"Hey, Jeremy? Wanna play fetch?" she asked, waving the shield enticingly. "Go get it, boys!"

All of the corgis immediately chased after it, barking excitedly, crashing straight into Emma's watchtower. The planes were all destroyed in fiery explosions, but each Jeremy had been able to eject and adorably descend to the ground in colourful parachutes. Just as Emma reached for another switch, she felt the tower begin to lurch. The support struts had been critically damaged by the explosions, and the entire tower collapsed to the ground. As Emma pulled herself out from the wreckage, she saw Lolly standing triumphantly in front of her, waggling her shield.

“Anything else?” she asked smugly. Her answer came in the form of footsteps so mighty they shook the earth beneath them. She spun around, and there in all its glory was Wondertron Prime™ – a forty-foot tall slaughterbot with a Gatling gun for a right hand, a hydraulic claw for a left, an electro-thaumic laser visor, shoulder-mounted rocket launchers, and a nuclear reactor in its chest. Legend had it that Reginald Wondertainment made it to fight the Obskuracorps during the Seventh Occult War. In the chaos it had ended up in the hands of the Soviets who kept it for the duration of the Cold War, and had disappeared entirely after the fall of the Soviet Union.

“COMMUNISM IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF DOCTOR WONDERTAINMENT,” it announced in a glitchy yet booming voice. Several sweet seeking missiles were launched from its shoulders, and Lolly immediately threw the shield as a decoy and fled in the other direction. Wondertron Prime™ fired its Gatling gun with wild abandon, ensuring Lolly couldn't go back for the shield. She'd be forced to take the offensive, and take the robot out before it could do the same to her.

She spotted the fallen remains of the Straw Men and summon them to the lollipop's head, forming flaming balls of straw which she batted off towards Wondertron Prime™. The robot’s electro-thaumic laser served as an excellent point-defense system, shooting down each blazing projectile before it could do any harm. This did, however, give Lolly enough cover to zig-zag up to the robot without getting shot. She was now too close to Wondertron for it to fire any of its weapons without inflicting damage on itself as well.

It tried to grab her with its massive claw, but she adroitly weaved in and out of its grasp while striking blow after blow on its metal hide. She smashed its guns, its claw, its rocket launchers, and even smashed in its face to destroy its laser vision, and yet Wondertron Prime™ still stood. Charging the lollipop with as much magic as she could, Lolly leapt superhumanly high in the air, gracefully somersaulting as she did so, and then fired a beam of Wonderlight straight into the robot’s atomic chest as fell back downwards.

The result was an explosion just big enough to create a Mushroom Cloud, which would have killed everyone within a half a kilometer radius; however, remember that the entire testing range also should have been underwater, so there’s no sense in getting physics involved now.

Nonetheless, Isabel, Emma, Icky, and the Jeremies all rushed towards the smoldering crater to ensure Lolly was alright.

“I love it!” Lolly screamed as she jumped out and embraced Doctor Wondertainment in a ferocious bear hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you… though, the inscription really should say ‘they’. Using ‘she’ as a default is just as exclusionary.”

“Heh. You, ah, you can’t turn that off, can you?” Isabel chuckled.

“Nope,” she smiled proudly. “Icky, forgive Wondertainment for everything right now or I’m never having sex with you again.”

Icky laughed, and happily nodded in agreement.

“I could never stay mad at a pretty girl anyway,” she said, bowing slightly and kissing Isabel’s hand. “We accept your very generous peace offering. All’s forgiven.”

“Yes! Spectacular! Emma, celebratory sodas for everyone!” Isabel ordered. Emma glanced around the desecrated testing range, to see if there was any chance anything they had brought with them was still intact.

“I shall return with them shortly Ma’am,” she replied, setting off for the nearest vending machine.

“I want cream soda!” Lolly shouted.

“While we’re waiting for her to get back, I did have a proposition I’d like to discuss with you two now that we’re friends,” Isabel said.

“Yes!” Icky replied with suspicious enthusiasm. Isabel squinted at her in confusion.

“It’s about a tie-in toyline for the lollipop hammer,” she clarified.

“Oh,” Icky said, Lolly giving her a gentle slap on the arm for her over-eagerness. “Sorry. Tell us more.”

The Executive Board (or Board of Directors. Isabel used the term interchangeably as she didn’t know or care to know what the difference was) stared in glum disapproval at the video projection of Lolly destroying their testing range using Doctor Wondertainment’s latest prototype.

“As you can see, Li’l Lollipop’s Little Lollipop™ by Doctor Wondertainment is capable of single-handedly taking out multiple combatants, Class III-IV local reality-bending, and generating kiloton-range Wonderlight blasts,” Isabel extolled the virtues of her latest creation. “As such, it will be limited to the American market, and should come with ‘an ages 3 and up’ sticker.”

The Board members exchanged glances at each other, though none of them had eyes, and it was their Chairman who was the first to speak.

“Doctor Wondertainment, would you kindly show us your actual prototype,” he requested impatiently.

“That was my actual prototype.”

“No, that was a sacrificial lamb to make your actual prototype seem reasonable by comparison. Please stop wasting our time and show us what you actually want us to vote on.”

“I – oh, fine. Emma!”

Emma handed a foot-long version of the lollipop hammer to each of the Board Members, along with a product proposal sheet.

“Those are made with ordinary wood, and the formula for the candy has been significantly diluted,” Isabel explained. “It should allow for limited animation of toys, transmutation of water into sugary drinks, changing colours of clothing, harmless stuff like that. We'll make them in more than just pink to appeal to a broader market. We’ll sell them primarily through the Circus of the Disquieting, who will also provide primary marketing for it with Lolly’s Big Top performances. And the inscription isn’t a copyright problem. I checked.”

The Board Members, examining the toys and reading over the proposals, nodded in calculated agreement.

“I do have one question, doctor,” the Chairman said, his calm tone barely containing his anger. “Why did you deem it necessary to destroy Wondertron Prime™ just to test the full-sized version?”

“… He was a communist, sir. It was a matter of patriotism,” Isabel claimed. “You’re not suggesting that I let the Red Menace walk amongst us freely, are you comrade?”

The old man sighed, and, having no more patience for Isabel’s games, marked the project proposal with his stamp of approval, with the other Board Members immediately following suite.

Isabel smiled a triumphant, mischievous smile. She had diluted the formula, that was true, but not by as much as she claimed. The lollipops held the potential to be far more than mere toys, and in the right kids' hands, if they be worthy, would wield the power of the Wonder-Maker.

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