Chapter 3

'This', thought Chris, 'was starting to get old.'

The Grayhound and Puppyboy raced ahead of the cats, barely. In fact, JB was having a difficult time extracting a tabby from beneath his cape. Chris realized then why so many superheroes were in such good shape. They obviously spent a fair amount of time running for their lives.

The two rounded a corner.

"Excuse me!", Chris politely called out, " Would you mind holding that door open for a sec?"

The night guard looked at the two with a rather quizzical look on his face. This had been the last night of his first full week on the job, and Russell said that he was doing great. Russell had pointed out that there was a good coffee shop next door and he just stopped there to OOOF!!

*WHA-BAM!*

"Oh, sorry about that." Chris said to the now prone guard. "Did any of that coffee get on you?"

JB held the door closed as the wave of cats crashed against the door. Several extremely annoyed looking feline faces pressed their way against the door's tiny glass window. A nearly never-ending assortment of paws angrily swiped beneath the door. The wall nearly vibrated with angry yowels and hisses from the other side.

"Hey, You're not supposed to be in here!", the guard stammered. "Hey, Ow!" the guard pulled his leg from the attentions of the paws.

"Oh dear, JB.."

"Puppyboy", JB politely corrected.

"Ah, yes, quite right. I do believe that this gentleman is correct." Chris quite politely continued as he helped the guard to his feet. "Well, I suppose that we should be going then. Let me open the door and..."

The cats increased their thrashing as Chris neared the door. Both JB and the guard responded in almost the same way.

Chris smiled a bit as he lay on the floor covered by his two current companions. "Well, I guess we'll stay for a bit, if you insist."

"Hey, aren't you that superhero guy?" the guard asked. "Yeah, I saw you on TV. You're the Grayhound, right?"

"Yup, and I'm Puppyboy." JB said with not a bit of pride.

The guard looked at JB. "Who?"

"That's not important right now. We like to keep a low profile.", Chris quickly countered.

"Then how come he's dressed like that?" The guard pointed his thumb at JB.

JB had about enough. He was about to inform this upstart of exactly who they were. Fortunately, Chris managed to speak first.

"Ah, yes, his costume helps his gamma triparticulate vision".

"It helps his what?" said JB and the guard in stereo.

"It allows him to use his super powers to read your mind like a book. Here, let me show you, now we need to have you somewhere that J-, I mean, Puppyboy can't see you. That way you'll know he wasn't just reading your body language or other clues." Chris said as he put his arm around the guard and began looking around. "Ah, this will be perfect. Here, stand inside here. That's it. Now, let me close the door. Alright, focus your thoughts. Now Puppyboy, use your incredible super powers to read this gentleman's mind. What, is he thinking?"

JB folded his arms and responded. "He's wondering why we just locked him into a closet."

"Well, no", said the guard, "I was really thinking...". The locked doorknob jiggled. "Hey!! Why did you lock the door?"

Chris turned to his brother and with a bit of a flourish said, "Truly amazing! How DO you DO it? Now, let's figure out how to get ourselves out of here in one piece."


Good Evening all. If we can all settle down and take our seats please?

Thank you.

Last week we covered bribery of minor government officials, and this morning I read something rather interesting. William? Can you stand up please?

Mr. Simons used what he learned in a rather interesting manner. Last Friday, Mr. Simons appeared at his local county clerks office to see about getting a variance for his underground facility. Through a bit of luck and proper pay-offs, not only was he successful in getting that variance, he also managed to get his Death Ray Cooling Structure to be zoned as a children's play area. Well, done Mr. Simons.

Now, back to the lessons at hand. This week we'll cover.... "Hiring ... a.... Qualified.... Hench.. person". What separates you, the successful chaos advocate from the general, run of the mill, criminal? The run of the mill criminal will often recruit friends, associates or random strangers to do their bidding. Although this is sometimes successful, it's often prone to failure because of poor communications, inadequate management, and occasional severe psychosis. Sadly, it's almost never your psychosis.

So, where can you find qualified henchpeople? Class?

Arnold?

Yes, you might take out a classified ad, but that might alert unwanted individuals.

Well, yes, I suppose you could say that you were hiring asset relocation managers, but I still think that might get unnecessary attention.

Cassandra?

Yes. Grad Students are an excellent resource. Often Arts and Humanities can provide not only good muscle, but a general willingness to wear the required costumes as well.

Anyone else?

Well, yes, Kraxxor, I suppose you might try summoning them from alternate dimensions, but remember, that not only will you have to provide adequate foodstuffs, if required, but there are strict curbing laws in most municipalities.

Now what about the following candidates. Lights please.

Here are our first two, "Cut" and "Paste". These two worked with Digitus on a recent caper against The Blue Crusader. They both have excellent degrees in Liberal Arts from Brown University and are in excellent health. They both placed very well with their LSATs. "Cut"is 6"2' and weighs 280 lbs. Paste is 6"3' and weighs about 300 lbs.

Why were they inadequate?

Anyone?

Yes, Kristine?

Right, they were not familiar with Digitus' modus opporandi. Neither of them had adequate computer skills and were unable to properly upload Digitus to the World Banking Network. And as you know, because of their blunder Digitus is currently serving 15-20 years as an ATM.

Next candidate.

He is a career seaman who enjoys seedy bars. Although somewhat disheveled, he is remarkably strong and agile. He was recruited after ordering a virgin scotch and water and then taking on an entire bar full of drunken bikers single handedly. Not only was he not winded at the end of it, but also managed to keep his captain's hat on and his long overcoat buttoned. He is a quiet man who says he is looking to follow orders and get his hands on some fast loot. Quite a catch, isn't he? How many would hire him?

And you three would have just hired the Scarlet Pigeon's valiant ward, Turtle Dove. Come now, didn't you read the assignment last night? No? Well, who can help him? What's rule number 14?

That's right, "Always check beards for the string."

Very well, class, now let's bring in a pair of successful hench people who have worked with over eight of our well known graduates and both enjoy reading classic Russian literature. Class, let's welcome, Eddie, and... I'm sorry, I didn't get your name...


Welcome back to RobotBattle! It's been a night of surprises but we're down to the final two combatants. Let's go down to the ring.

In this corner, from Sandusky Ohio, Weighing 130 Kilos, Evil Chicken!


This champion is a homebrew creation of thirteen year old robot prodigy Brian Mays and his Dad. The Chicken won the first round by default, but this warrior is ready for action!

In this corner, from the Planet Of Doom, Weighing 10 Kilos, Resumatrix !

Resumatrix has been full of surprises tonight. The amazing thing is that it's controller isn't even in the building. Still, the judges determined that technically Resumatrix was the last robot moving during the last battle, once we got the cameras back on line..

Robots Ready.

Begin.

Evil Chicken is off to a shakey start, Brian and his dad used an old canister vacuum and bits from old kitchen appliances. His principle weapon is the Chicken's rotating, diamond edged steel blades which he built using parts from his Mum's mixer.

Ah, now Resumatrix is off as well! Resumatrix gets lots of points for being the first walker to do battle here at RobotBattle. The lad who submitted Resumatrix, Lord Bollox, is so confident he's not even in the building. In fact, all we've seen is his chrome capped face on the little telly on Reumatrix. But is building a Robot Battler that looks like an armor plated Teletubbie going to pay off? We shall soon see!

Resumatrix has made it to the middle of the arena and is now standing on the center platform. What's this? Resumatrix seems to be trying to incite the crowd. He's just standing there with one clamp on his hip and the other one raised up to the audience. Bollox seems to be shouting something above the noise.

He's saying, something about being the conquorer, and wanting us to bow down before his might. And something else I'm trying to hear… What's that? Oh,"It's Krullux .... you stupid git."

Mighty big words from a two foot tall robot, especially one that hasn't been paying attention, because here comes Evil Chicken. Ooh, the Chicken's blades are doing some serious damage to Resumatrix's leg. Look at those sparks fly! Resumatrix looks a bit annoyed at that one and it looks like it's trying to kick the Chicken away.

Ah-HA! Resumatrix looks like he caught his foot on the Evil Chicken's blades and has tripped! Looks like Resumatrix found out that pride does come before the fall. Well, the crowd has gone wild cheering for Evil Chicken as he scored first blood.

Resumatrix looks quite annoyed now and has turned on Evil Chicken. Resumatrix looks like he's trying to get a grip on Evil Chicken, but with a smooth body like that, it's easier said than done. Resumatrix's clamps may be strong, but they're useless against that big round body. Resumatrix looks like he's backing up and… Good Lord! Resumatrix just released what looks like a concentrated plasma discharge at Evil Chicken! Good thing for the Chicken that Krullux's aim is terrible, or that would be one cooked chicken!

But that Chicken is no chicken. Look at him charge Resumatrix. Brian says that he's got twin half horse power engines and lots of torque. Pow! Looks like Resumatrix wasn't expecting that at all. Evil Chicken has pushed Resumatrix into the wall.

Resumatrix is not taking that well at all, he's got a grip on Evil Chicken and is holding Evil Chicken over his head! That's a lot of oompf from that little chatterbox, and Krullux looks like he's enjoying himself. Resumatrix is headed for the main pits and it looks like this might be the end of Evil Chicken.

He's made it to the pit and is holding the Chicken, but what is Resumatrix waiting for? Resumatrix is putting the Chicken down upside down! And now Resumatrix is backing up! I think that Resumatrix is planning to kick Evil Chicken into the pit! Well, that's not just adding insult to injury! That's just being evil!

Resumatrix is charging toward the Evil Chicken and is displaying excellent form. Looks like he's lining up the kick and, Evil Chicken has just scooted out of the way! Resumatrix is in mid kick and has gone flying up and Whoo-hoo!! Resumatrix has fallen head first into the Pit of Destruction! Evil Chicken has won the Match!!

Brian! Brian! Congratulations! How'd you do it?

Oh, he dropped me on my blades, so I just kinda turned them on and rolled out of the way.

That's amazing! You're quite a clever lad! Well done! Now let's go down to the pit so Lydia can talk to Krullux.

Thank you Neil. We've hauled Resumatrix out of the pit and stomped most of the flames out. I can still see Krullux so I'm guessing he's still there.

Yes puny mortal, I Lord Krullux, still live. This is merely a minor setback to my plans. I will not rest until I have gained my rightful place as supreme ruler of your pathetic planet. Mwha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!

Now, would you mind undoing the clamp around the leg and lowering me to the floor?

 


Wha-whoa! *crunk*

Ow.

Note to Krullux: Next time, have them lower you first…


The table was slowly filling with empties. It had been JB's idea, but Chris didn't argue too much.

The toilet flushed, and JB emerged from the bathroom. "So you're saying that somehow this idiot has launched a satellite and is using it to control the cats of Boise? Chris, you're worrying me…"

"Why's that?" Chris asked as he popped the cap of the, uh, fourth? Seventh? Aw, who cares.

"You're sounding like me."

"You got a better idea?" Chris asked.

JB staggered over to his bed and sat down rather heavily. His face scrunched up in deep thought for a few seconds as he let his deeper psychosis try to come up with some answer for what they saw. Finally, he just looked at his brother and confessed, "Nope."

JB scratched his head a bit and tried to focus on his brother. "Why cats? I mean is this guy trying to control the, uhm, what the heck would controlling a bunch of cats lead to?"

"Got me. Maybe he's got a thing against old women." Chris glanced at JB's laptop. "Huh."

"What?"

"I was just doing a search on Yahoo for satellites. Apparently some kid was bragging recently about cracking some codes for an old Regan era SDI satellite. I'm guessing Bob probably read it too."

"So, why is he using it to control cats? I mean if I had a satellite like that I'd be carving my name into the Hoover Dam or I dunno, holding Poughkeepsie ransom or something."

"Poughkeepsie?"

"Ok, ok, Lompoc. Somewhere other than here."

"I thought you wanted to do this whole superhero thing?"

"Chris, if I was a superhero, why in God's Green Earth would I attack here?"

"That, Brah, a question for greater minds than ours."

JB fell back onto the bed and hoped that the room would start spinning the other way for a change. "Speaking of which, how the heck are we going to take out a satellite?"

"Can we take the Atomic PuppyRocket?"

JB looked at his brother with a quizzical expression. Chris just laughed. "Ok, so that's probably out for now. And I'd probably need to get more money anyway."

JB struggled to his elbows. "That's an understatement. Chris, you haven't worked a day since you moved in with me three years ago, and I've been paying for most of our stuff. How much money do you have?"

"Hang on, let me check." Chris typed a bit, clicked a few times, and reported back to his brother, "Currently, I've got a balance of about eight hundred and fifty two thousand dollars."

JB didn't say anything.

Several seconds later, he remembered to start breathing again.

A few seconds beyond that and his muscles were moving faster than the several liters of alcohol he had ingested would normally allowed. He peered over his brothers shoulder at the screen. Sure enough, there on the LCD panel in lovely Times New Roman font was the balance, eight hundred and fifty two thousand, six hundred and forty two dollars and eight three cents. JB's account had never seen more that four thousand dollars, and that was after a paycheck, yet somehow his older brother had managed to assess quite a fortune.

Oddly it was written out in longhand, but JB figured that was for added shock value.

JB started sputtering: "How did you.. When.. Whah??" JB stopped hyperventilating long enough to collect his thoughts. The rush of oxygen did manage to clear away quite a bit of fog. "Chris, I just want to know one thing."

"You wanna know how I got that much money?" his brother asked as he cocked one eyebrow.

"No. Why the heck did you have me pay for this room!?"


[screen fades up from black]

Ken Griffith: Local Superheroes, The Grayhound and Puppyboy held a press conference this afternoon to discuss the recent cat crisis and how they plan to avert it. Susan McCaffry has the details. Susan?

[cut to Susan standing outside the Boise City Hall.]

Susan McCaffry: Thank you Ken, this afternoon both the Grayhound and Puppyboy held a press conference to announce their plans to combat Bob Malevolent's attempts to control the cats of Boise.

[cut to press room. The assembled press awaits. Behind the podium a rather disheveled looking Grayhound and Puppyboy stand, rather wobbly, but standing none the less. Both are wear dark sunglasses and have not shaved today. After a few moments Puppyboy approaches the microphone.]

Puppyboy: Uh, good afternoon. First off I'd like to apologize for our appearance. The Grayhound and I were up most of the night working on a plan, and then setting up our defense network. We're proud to announce that the work has been completed and we are positive that Mr. Malevolent's nefarious plot has been neutralized. I've asked the Grayhound to explain the workings of the system.

[Puppyboy looks toward the Grayhound. The Grayhound does not react immediately. Puppyboy walks over to the Grayhound and subtly taps him on his shoulder. The Grayhound wakes with a bit of a start, adjusts his sunglasses and walks to the podium.]

Grayhound: Good afternoon, all. Several nights ago, J- I mean Puppyboy and I averted Malevolent's most recent attack. During that time we realized how he's been controlling the cats.

[Puppyboy carries a large easel onto the stage. On the easel is a rather crudely drawn picture of a satellite and the Earth. The lines are drawn with an oddly shaky quality, as if the process required suddenly absent motor skills]

Grayhound: Thank you Puppyboy. As you can see from this diagram Malevolent some how managed to gain access to a space based laser platform and is using it to control the cats.

[The reporters in the audience start yelling questions at the two superheroes who are both holding their heads in some sort of agony.]

Grayhound: Can You People Please Keep It Down?!?!

[The assembled throng quiets down a bit]

Grayhound: Thank you, trust me, like my breakfast, if you keep it down, so will I. Now, one at a time. How about you in the blue.

Reporter 1: Karen Vu, KNIN News, You said that Malevolent has a space based laser platform. Aren't you concerned that he could use it to destroy the city?

Grayhound: Well, considering that so far the worst he's been able to do is get a bunch of cats hyper, at night, without any fog, I'm willing to bet that wanton acts of mass destruction are probably a bit beyond his current abilities. How about you.

Reporter 2: Bob Hankins, KTVB Action News, How did Malevolent seize control of the satellite?

Grayhound: Chances are he probably got it from somewhere online. Last night I found about fourteen sites that offer hacks to do it. Heck, I think Gasping Pterodactyl uses one for their road shows.

Puppyboy: Oh, yeah. Didn't they use it for "Cheetos of Love"?

Grayhound: No, I think it was "Pant-pant-pant"

Reporter 3: Excuse me…

Puppyboy: Nah, Remember when they were in town for the Nuclear Burrito World Tour? They used it to spotlight the drummer during the solo, well, up until he had that epileptic fit.

Grayhound: Dude, that was part of the solo!

Reporter 3: Excuse me, Grayhound?..

Puppyboy: He was foaming at the mouth!

Reporter 3: Excuse me! Mr. Grayhound!

Puppyboy: Paramedics rushed the stage! That was not part of the act!

Grayhound: Huh, you think?

Reporter 3: HEY!!

Grayhound: [rather annoyed] Yes, what is it?

Reporter 3: So you mind telling us how you've defeated a space based laser cat toy?

Grayhound: Oh, that. Right. I hadn't told you that part, yet have I? Right, so Malevolent is controlling cats by showing them something that they find irresistible. Although, mighty attractive, there's one thing that cat's love even more, and that is….

[Puppyboy shows the next card on the easel, which displays]

Grayhound: A Can Opener. Puppyboy and I placed hundreds of can openers at various strategic locations all wired up to this radio control.

[The Grayhound produces what looks like a garage door opener which happens to be a garage door opener, with a few modifications]

Grayhound: Next time Laser boy decides to play with the cats, all we have to do is press this button like so.

[In the distance several the streets fill with the sound of several thousand can openers whirring away.]

[Cut back to Susan standing outside City Hall.]

Susan McCaffry: Unfortunately, The Grayhound decided to demonstrate the system during the height of morning rush hour, and the streets were literally flooded with cats which brought already congested traffic to a complete stand still. Fortunately, the cats soon dispersed and normal traffic flow resumed. Most residents are pleased about the new system, mostly because they didn't have to pay for it. One resident did express some anger about the system because it involved purchasing every available can opener from every twenty four hour shop in Boise and he had to wait until nine o'clock to ….


Bob looked at his homework after he got it back. He was very disappointed.

"A C+?", Bob asked. "C'mon! It was original and it got major news attention."

"True", responded Professor Tanutus, "and you managed to get the local government to require the services of a Super Hero of sorts. Still, you caused little damage and were unable to confront or injure the superhero in any way."

Bob found the Professor's tone just slightly above condescending. The professor was right, of course, but it still was darn annoying. Bob fumed for a while but still knew he should keep defending.

"The media estimated damages to Confederacy Square to be in the thousands and one warehouse was completely shredded. The only survivor was a guard that had somehow locked himself into a closet."

"Yes, Bob, there was quite a bit of damage, but you were not responsible for it. Oh, indirectly sure, you did create the cat stampede that triggered the event, but most of the damage actually occurred due to actions from your new adversaries. I'm guessing that they must be new at this."

"I suppose so. My research on Boise did not mention any superheroes directly, that's one of the reasons I picked it."

"Did you check the archives to see if there were any retired or registered superheroes?" the Professor asked a bit too pleasantly.

Bob winced, he hadn't.

"Bob, Bob, Bob. It's understandable that you didn't know to check that. It's something that many forget. Now, Bob, relax, you're turning purple. That's not good for the blood pressure and makes one take foolish risks. This is just the first of several assignments. I'm sure you'll do much better. Now, go home and start working on your next assignment."

Bob turned and started walking for the door.

"Oh, and Bob?"

He stopped and turned toward the Professor.

"Bob, I pride myself on having exceptional students. Do try to improve. I'd hate for you to have to leave my class unexpectedly. It tends to be messy."


"Ok Jonathan, thanks. You've been great as usual." Chris hung up the phone.

"Who was that?" asked JB as he entered the room and popped the top to the recently purchased soda.

"Hmm? Oh, that was my accountant, Jonathan. He called me because he noticed the rather large credit card bill we rang up last night. At twenty bucks a pop last night's fun rang up over forty thousand dollars. The good news is that I might be able to declare them as a non-comp business expense."

"I see you've finally started using that Business Degree" jibbed JB.

Chris let the remark slide and pulled their suitcases out of the closet. "Get packing. We're getting out of this place."

JB was not a bit surprised. Ok, he was a lot of surprised. "What? Are we going back to Sunnyvale?"

"Nope, Jonathan also told me that he found us a loft, and has seen to it to have a few supplies sent up. Here are the directions."

JB read them for a few seconds. "Take the stairs next to Annie's House of Bondage?"

"The rent there is fantastic, and she'll give us a discount on equipment."

"What kind of equipment?"


Later that afternoon, the heroes made their way up the stairs to the empty loft. It was spacious enough with no actual furniture in it. In fact the only thing in the room other than a lamp were several large boxes addressed to Chris Reid.

Chris walked over to them and quickly tore the first open. JB just stared at what was held within the cardboard containers. Chris rattled off the contents.

"Let's see if he got everything; two air mattresses, sheets, towels, shower kits, cell phones, Kevlar body armor, protective eye wear, hmm, a note. 'Dear Chris, couldn't get the sidearms but did manage to get you a couple of tazers. They were on sale…"

"Cool, we've got tazers?" JB reached for the boxes before Chris swatted his hand.

"Not toys JB, we read the manual first. Here. He threw in a couple of catalogs. Start thumbing through them. Where was I? '… Still working on getting your coat, but here's a temporary one. P.S. saw JB's outfit, love his tailor. …"

"Hey!" JB said very defensively. Chris ignored it.

"'..Jonathan'" Chris finished the note and reached into the box. He pulled out a long dark ash overcoat and matching felt fedora. "Not bad, Jonathan, not bad."

He pulled the coat on and checked the inside. It was a bit large, but he knew that would not be an issue soon. The fedora fit well, if a bit heavy, but that was also to be expected. Still something didn't quite feel right about it. He pulled it off and looked inside. There was another note pinned to a cloth mask.

'Figured you might want to use this too, G. -Jonathan'

Chris smiled and put the mask on, then placed the fedora back on his head.

"Whoa. Nice threads. I thought you weren't up on being 'The Grayhound'?" asked JB as he continued to scan the catalogs.

"So long as that idiot is out there wreaking havoc, we've got a job to do. Consider this a work uniform."

"Does this mean I have to fill out a W4?" JB asked his brother.

Before Chris could answer, there was a knock on the door.

"Go see who that is. I'll start putting some of this away. And it might not be prudent to announce this is our new headquarters." Chris said.

JB hunkered over in his best Igor, "Yesss Massterrr, JB will get the door masssterrr." JB jogged down the stairs.

Chris opened the next box and started examining the contents. Ah, some clothes and more office supplies. 'We're definitely going to be over budget this month' Chris thought, 'but that's to be expected when you start up.'

JB returned a few minutes later.

"So who was it down there?"

"It was a telegram, Chris." JB said in an unexpectedly serious tone.

"From whom?" Asked Chris.

"It's from the United Super Hero Association. It's a cease and desist note."


Holy Power of Attorney! Have the Dogmatic Duo been derailed by a dastardly director's decree?

Are the heroes has-beens before having had a hearing?

Are awkward alliterations always agitating.

Well, yes actually, they are.

Tune in next time for:

Running with Lawyers
or
Barring the Way.


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