The Stepford Conjunction
Disclaimer: I own none of the rights to any of the copyrighted characters appearing in this work, and no infringement nor profit motive is intended. Rights belong respectively to Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy/Fox, whoever owns the $6M Man/Bionic Woman franchise, and to DC Comics.
Stepford, Connecticut, 1976.
Diana Prince struggled against the ropes binding her to a solid wooden chair. For all that the men standing around her were supposedly amateurs, from many professions and walks of life, they had bound her more competently than most of the henchmen or evil masterminds she had faced in the past; perhaps even as well as the Nazis. Or perhaps that was the doing of her betrayer, Steve Trevor, standing before her in the immaculate board room of the Stepford Men's Club. She glared at him through her tinted glasses; who else could have arranged to gas her in the suburban home they had recently moved into as their covers, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Tannen?
Her mind raced. For Steve's sake, she only hoped that the rumors of mind control experiments the IADC had assigned them to investigate were true, although those rumors had centered around strange behavior on the part of the women, not the men. Still, she didn't like to think of him as a traitor; he was too much like his father for her to ever believe that of him. Perhaps whatever organization was behind this actually went for the men first, perhaps applying some brainwashing technique at the centrally located Men's Club, then used them to get at their wives? The stereotypical 'housewife' behavior of so many Stepford wives, that she had found so disturbing since arriving in this 'model' suburban town, could simply be a result of a less advanced behavioral program for women, betraying a lack of insight into the female psyche. Typical male ignorance.
Which didn't solve the problem of getting out of this situation. Not only did she have no leverage to even start to spin the chair she was in and trigger her transformation, there were too many witnesses in front of her to attempt it anyway, at least until there was no choice but to reveal her secret. Not for the first time, she cursed the compact that allowed her to keep her powers away from Themyscira, but only at the cost of maintaining an alter ego without access to any of her natural powers or abilities. Only once she she retrieved her girdle and wrist bands, along with the rest of her costume, from the magical pocket Hippolyta had constructed for her to use in Man's World, would she regain the strength she had been born with. Strength she could have used hours before, attempting to resist the sedative effects of the knockout gas in her new kitchen.
The members of the Men's Club were discussing something quietly amongst themselves, not even acknowledging Diana or the other two women bound in their midst for the moment. Finally, Doctor... Wellington, was it?, hushed everyone and brought forward Steve and the husbands of the other two women, along with a fourth man Diana thought she recognized as another newcomer to Stepford. Wasn't his name Steve as well? He was handsome, if a little more rugged looking than Steve Trevor. She thought his eyes looked a little glazed, though, moreso than those of the other men.
"Well, my dears, we were expecting a fourth inductee for tonight, but it seems Steve Houston's wife Jaime has given us the slip for the moment. That's the trouble with these independent women, always going off according to their own plans. She didn't even leave a note saying whether she was going into the city or just to the nearest shopping center. However, that's not something the three of you will have to worry about for much longer. Once the Process is complete, you will be the perfect wives for your husbands, something you will no doubt appreciate. Well, the new versions of you, I suppose."
With that, the doctor went to a wooden railing beside the bar and pressed some kind of recessed button. An entire section of paneled wall folded itself out and a laboratory setup worthy of Victor Frankenstein slid out into the room. However, the machinery that was revealed contained not just one, but four pallets with humanoid figures upon them. As they came out of shadow, Diana realized with a start that three were perfect duplicates of the three bound Stepford wives, while the fourth looked just like the other Steve's wife, Jaime.
"Nevertheless, I want you to think of this not as a replacement, but a transformation," continued the doctor. "After all, before your husbands take home their new, improved wives, we need to program them to emulate at least some aspects of your behavior patterns, enough to reassure any children, satisfy any inquisitive in-laws, and ease the transition for your husbands themselves. We've found the easiest way to do this is with a direct transfer of certain encephalic patterns." As he lectured, the doctor was reeling out metal and plastic braincaps attached to each pallet, obviously preparing to attach them to the captives' heads. "And of course we'll have to preserve your original bodies indefinitely, albeit with diminished brain function, for use in the event any of your husbands want more children and prefer the old-fashioned method of producing them."
Just as Diana was desperately trying to think of any possible escape route, there was a tremendous crash from the other side of the board room. A trim figure dropped to the hardwood floor in the midst of a shower of glass from the angled skylight that now gaped open in the roof, landing in a relaxed crouch. Coming to a standing position, Jaime Houston, the missing Stepford wife, brushed her long blond hair back and announced, "I think I've heard just about enough, Dr. Wellington, if that's your real name. You're under arrest by the OSI."
End Chapter One.