Chapter 8

You could almost believe that the fog was alive. It eddied and blew heavily along the streets of Atlantica. The fog seemed to allow lights to peek through as if it were a child, playing hide and seek with itself. The air, heavy and cold, danced against the light breeze. A fog that thick could make daylight seem like dusk. At two thirty in the morning, it just made things all the darker.

Bob's stopped beneath a street light and gave a short whistle. His breath condensing in the cold, wet air like a teapot. He peered into the mists but didn't see anything, but soon heard the scampering, if the heavy metallic pads of a several ton, fifteen-foot robotic terrier could be called scampering. Bob had requested a fifteen-foot robotic terror, but he blamed the bad phone line. At first he was deeply disappointed with what had been shipped, but Margie was starting to grow on him.

His wife had named her, err, it. Bob wasn't quite sure if the mechanical beastie was a "her" but he wasn't about to argue with either it or his wife. Avalon had taken quite a shine to the chromium canine, Bob wasn't quite sure what the landlord's attitude toward pets was, but felt that he could successfully argue his point if it ever came up.

Margie playfully chewed on the bumper she held in her teeth. It was a little souvenir she took off of the van. She trotted ahead and the road clattered and groaned its complaints, mostly from newly airborne manhole covers and buckling asphalt.

Perhaps he was a bit hard on the hired help. He did want to inform them that he was not happy with their previous performance and wanted to inform them of the errors of their ways. He hadn't planned on bringing Margie, but it was time for her walkies, and she had proven to be quite compelling in making his case.

Misters Lapinski and Pucconi seemed to be both apologetic and eager to improve. Bob wasn't quite sure if that was from an earnest desire to improve or Margie's three feet long, titanium alloy canines, but accepted their overtures of reconciliation. Despite Bob's complaints, they were a good pair and a definite bargain for the price. Bob had little desire to be rid of them. However, he also realized that he needed to take a more active role in future actions.

It will certainly mean later nights than he hoped, but he supposed that if he ever wanted to reach his goals, he would have to make some sacrifices. Bob thought about his planned future as supreme ruler of the planet. It wouldn't be easy of course, ruling never really is. Still, it was a small price to pay for saving the world.

Bob smiled a bit as he saw Margie curiously sniffing at a bug, her tail wagging back and forth betraying her curiosity. The driver of the VW was not enjoying Margie's learning experience nearly as much.


Lady Peacemaker was NOT happy. Granted, in the two short years she'd been officially part of the Justice Furlong, she almost never really was, and the other members would be quite hard pressed to remember any time she was smiling when not beating the tar out of someone or shooting holes in something. But even those who may not be familiar with her would easily guess that the only way to bring her out of her current mood would be allowing her to perform some painfully violent act on someone, preferably repeatedly.

Capt'n Idiocy, excuse her, Industry, had once again leapt into the fray without a thought and she'd done let the whole thing sweep her along too. Dang, and she KNEW this was a trap.

Of course, having Squirrelboy muttering that some airborne rodent told him this was a setup didn't help much either. The little twerp just loved to remind them that sometimes he was right.

She would have loved to stick a spur or two into him just to shut him up, but it was kind of hard to do that when she was manacled to the wall.

'How in Blue Blazes did we all wind up here?' she thought. She remembered the Captain barking out orders and then zooming up to the second floor of the warehouse. The Purple Pansy went charging through the front door and she went in through the window, she thought she did at least. She didn't really remember hearing any glass breaking or anything that usually accompanies a sudden entrance. She just remembered a weird tingling feeling and then waking up here with that damn headache.

She tested her chains for the third time. There was no way that she could break them. Shoot 'em, sure, she could do that blindfolded. It was kinda hard to do that without her Colts though.

She looked down the wall to see Captain Industry manacled just like they were. His head slumped over and she could see the headphones he was wearing. She tried to get his attention.

"I fear that the Captain will not be of any use to us right now, Lady Peacemaker."

"Aw man, let me guess. That's Lewis Sinclair they've got going through them earpieces, ain't it?"

The Detective nodded gravely.

"Great, so he'll be worthless for hours until we can find a Wall Street Journal or somethin'."

"Sad but true. And our captor has stripped me of my tools."

"Well if he so much as scratched the handles of my irons, his dates are gonna find him three inches shorter."

"I tried to tell you guys that this was a trap, but did you listen to me? No, you had to go charging in. What's Faunaman got to say, ah, who cares, it's probably just something important anyway…"

"Oh will you just shut up already?", Lady Peacemaker spat at Faunaman Yeah, yeah, so you were right this time. Big friggin' deal. Would ya'll like to inform the rest of the class what the vicious beast that would devour us whole was last month?"

Faunaman looked hurt. "A poodle."

"And the demon with glowing eyes that stalks the night?"

"The Detective's Mercury." he mumbled almost helplessly and started to sniffle.

Lady Peacemaker's fury wilted. Fauna wasn't that bad a kid, just a bit overeager. "Fauna-honey, I'm sorry. Look we're all in a pretty bad scrap here and we need to pull together. I'm sorry. I guess I just kinda snapped. You know me; I got a mouth the size of Texas and boots too small to fill it. Detective? We need a plan bad. Got anything in mind?"

"I fear that even if he did, it would be a bit too late." The last was from a gentleman dressed in a simple tweed jacket and the type of clothes one would expect to see on any campus. He certainly didn't look like much of a threat, but the Justice Furlong knew that looks were quite deceiving. The man addressing them was none other than the nefarious Professor M.

He addressed his chained foes with casual charm. "Good evening all, I trust you're comfortable? Well, at least under your current conditions. I certainly hope that you enjoyed my latest little trick. It's something that I picked up from a colleague of mine, though I doubt very much you have heard of him, delightful chap with the oddest penchant for chrome haberdashery."

The Professor busied himself removing tarps from several large devices. All of which looked like they were rather poorly made, but compensated by being emblazoned with various lightning bolts and other alien looking insignia. What caught the heroes attention most however was that each had a very noticeable pointy end and it was pointed at them. "The device he lent me was truly fascinating. I won't bore you with details, but it is able to construct very impressive looking illusions from a form of concentrated light."

Faunaman mumbled, "That's what the pigeons said, they couldn't land on it."

The Professor began flipping switches and the devices started slowly humming to life. "No, I assume they couldn't. Must have been dreadfully confusing to them. Still, it is quite realistic. I nearly fell for the illusion myself the first time I saw it. What gave it away for me was the fact that I could see through the dark bits. I solved that little problem by placing several cardboard cutouts behind the façade."

"How were you able to knock us out?" asked the Detective.

Professor M laughed a bit. "Well, you can't assume that I'm going to tell you *all* of my secrets, now can you? Let's just say that it's something I picked up along my more recent travels. As is this curious device." The professor spread his arms to indicate the various whirring and pulsing mechanisms that now surrounded him. None of which looked pleasant.

"I'm honestly not quite sure I understand exactly what they do." The professor laughed again, with a bit more evil in his voice. He turned and looked over the top of his glasses at his chained guests. "That's where I was hoping you might help me."

"Well, I too am eager at learning the advances in science, but I don't see how I can help you when I am chained up like this." The Detective said.

Lady Peacemaker sighed heavily and turned to her compadre. "Were you dropped on your head a lot when you were a young'un?"

The Detective turned with a surprised look on his face, Lady Peacemaker just rolled her eyes and slowly shook her head. The Professor's motives suddenly dawned upon the Detective and he made a silent "oh".

Faunaman started to cry quietly again.

"Yes, I'm afraid that I need test subjects for this and your little association just seemed like the perfect candidates. Oh, and I hope you don't mind, I added the Jacob's Ladder. It just seemed like it was missing, somehow. Now, what did that Krullux chap say I needed to do? Ah, my notes." The Professor pulled out a notepad and began adjusting several of the knobs and levers. The machines began to wail and throb ominously.

Lady Peacemaker fought against the chains looking for something, anything to get them out of this. She felt around the securing bolt above her head. There she felt a slip of broken stone. It wasn't much, but she held on to it.

"There. All set." The Professor walked to a control panel and put on a pair of welding goggles. "From what I understand, this should be nearly painless."

The Professor reached for a large red button. Next to it was a somewhat smaller green button. Lady Peacemaker had no idea what either of them did, but figured that she had one chance to find out. She closed her eyes and said a quick prayer to her Daddy. Then with all the skill and strength she could muster she threw the broken stone at the green button.

With deadly accuracy the chip hit the green button square. The Professor saw the strike and repeatedly tried to push the red button, hoping that he could somehow override the event. It was too late. The room filled with a deafening whine, sparks and flames leapt from machine to machine as terawatts of power surged nearly out of control. Countless bolts of bright blue light burst from seams and struts.

In a whining roar that sounded like the very universe being torn open with a chainsaw, a burst of energy exploded into the Justice Furlong.

Lady Peacemaker's last thought on Earth was that she should have aimed for a different button.

Then the pain hit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then JB awoke.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chris burst into JB's "room" with a tazer in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. Chris had no idea what was there, but it wasn't going to take his brother without a damn good fight. JB's face was white, he was breathing hard, but he was alone.

Chris lowered his weapons and looked at him with a good deal of concern, "You ok, brah?"


Chris looked over his shoulder. Sure enough, every set of eyes in the place were fixed on him and JB. To say that it felt uncomfortable would be like saying that the sun is a little bright. Chris tried to bury himself into the menu for the diner. A difficult trick made even harder by their choices of counter seats.

Chris leaned over and whispered, "JB, why are we here again?"

"We need a hang out. All the cool heroes have hangouts."

"You've been reading too much Darren Hammer."

"C'mon Chris, The Brown Streak has Benny's Laundromat, Hydrogen Guy has The Usual, and the Salad Barbarian even worked out a deal to sit around Starbucks."

Chris thought for a moment, "Uhm, doesn't the Salad Barbarian wilt when exposed to hot liquids?"

"They give him a lot of iced drinks, and to be honest, considering how much he's getting for it, I'm sure he's willing to become soup."

"Ok, so why here? It's on the other side of town from where the loft is. Heck it took us nearly thirty minutes to fight through traffic to get here."

"C'mon G, we're overlooking Boise Bay and the Anodized Aluminum Doorway Bridge, the Shoulderlands, the food here is great and I hear there's a knockout waitress named Ginger who works here."

Chris had to admit, the view from Louis' Diner was spectacular, far better than the more famous Bluff House located further down the hill. Plus, the tourists had no idea about this place, but the locals did.

"Whaddya have, hun?"

Chris turned his attention from the window and looked at the waitress, and then looked down to meet her eyes. She was clearly well above eighty, stooped and slightly balding. Her nametag said 'Ginger'. Chris stammered a bit to control a laugh. "Ah, yeah, I'll have the two eggs scrambled, and dry wheat toast with coffee please. JB?"

JB sat in a state of mild shock. "Gi...Ginger?"

"That's me, hun. Whaddya have?"

"You'll have to excuse him, Ginger, he was just talking about how excited he was to finally meet you, and well, you've taken his breath away." Chris said and smiled warmly faking several levels of sincerity.

"Oh, stop, I'll blush."

JB continued to not say anything.

"I believe he'll have the waffle and a side of bacon with a small orange juice and a bottle of.. Carffee, is it? Yes, a large Diet Carffee, Thank you." Chris leaned across the counter to the older woman and whispered to her "Oh, and if you could just sign a little something, I'm sure he'd appreciate it."

Ginger laughed a bit and headed off to place the order.

"She's quite a knockout, JB."

JB shook himself back to the present. "Did you order?"

"Yeah, I got you the usual."

"Oh, thanks." JB paused for a second. "What's my usual?"

Chris feigned a bit of innocence. "Oh, I think it was a waffle or something. I was too distracted by Ginger to remember. Rwowr."

"Ok, ok, so my information is a bit out of date. Look, I've been thinking about this gig more and more and I think I know what we need."

"You mean other than getting half a clue about where Bob will strike next and keep from blowing up a few more blocks?"

"Well, that, but we also need a gimmick."

"A gimmick" Chris echoed incredulously.

"Yeah, a gimmick. Look, since we've been here, we've been pretty low key."

Chris looked over his shoulder again. A few of the eyes had changed, but they were still under the same scrutiny. "Sorry, guess I hadn't really noticed."

"Well, at the rate we're going we're never gonna get comic books written about us. I mean look at your fan club."

"JB, one teenage girl who has a thing about guys dressed in black hardly qualifies as a fan club, and besides, why should I care if I have a fan club?"

JB started ticking off the points on his fingers, "Chris, if we don't have a fan club, we don't get comic books. If we don't get comic books we don't get corporate sponsors. No corporate sponsors and we're looking for the cheapest gas for the Grayhound Mobile."

Chris brushed aside the comments, "Not a problem, we do that already."

"C'mon Chris, wouldn't it be cool to walk down the street and have some kid holding up a copy of a comic book with your face on it?"

"No, because he'd probably be using it to scare off the other kids. JB, I keep telling you I'm not doing this for fame or glory, I just want…what?"

JB's expression told his brother all he needed to say. It may not have been Chris' dream…

"Ok, ok, we'll work on promotion or whatever a bit more."

Ginger appeared with their breakfasts. "Here you go boys. Oh, and this is for you sweetie." She handed JB a slip of paper with a heart drawn on it. In the center of the heart was "Ginger," and a phone number. JB tried to smile politely. "My shift ends at three, give me a call sometime."

And then she winked at JB.

"Mmm, JB, you were right. This place has a great breakfast. We've got to come back here more often."

"Not if you value breathing regularly." JB said right before he took his very first sip of Carffee.


The figure made its way through the mists, unnoticed, unseen. He moved silently toward the crest of Suture Tower on top of Triplet Peaks.

Suture Tower, named after a group of surgeons who were hobbyist ham radio operators, was a towering expanse of red and white steel. It had been modified over the years to carry most of the broadcast signals to the greater Boise area. Some loved the futuristic look of the thing; others felt it was an ugly blight on the beautiful hills of the south city.

The figure didn't care what the aesthetic value was. He was more interested in what it could do.

He stepped out of the concealing fog as if he was walking on the early morning sunlight. Wait, strike the "as if" part.

The figure was approaching at an angle that put him nearly half way up the tower, some sixty feet above the base, and some two hundred feet above the sloping hill below him. Later in the day, the hill might be packed with tourists and sightseers. For now, the parking lots and vendor stalls were empty. No one saw the figure effortlessly approach the tower.

And no one heard the loud metal clang and brief curse that followed.

The figure held his helmeted head and hung in mid air. He raised his visor and began fishing through his pockets. Eventually he pulled from the folds a pair of thick-rimmed eyeglasses and put them on. He lowered the visor, but it didn't quite close right. The rims of the glasses pushed against the inside.

With a frustrated whine, he left the visor up for the time being and looked for what he needed.

He spotted the broadcast linkup, a several hundred thousand watt link-up cable. that ran to the various sub antennae. A slight flutter of his cape was the only sound heard as he moved to the juncture and placed his hand against it. He could feel the coursing power, felt it's rhythm and flow. He needed to concentrate now, focus, ah, that's it, the jumbled noise slowly started to fall away as he exerted his will upon the signals.

His eyes opened and he began to speak.


It came from everywhere, from the TV in the corner of Louie's diner, from the speaker in Bob's PC, every speaker or electrical device produced the sound.

It wasn't deafening, In fact it the combined volume was almost pleasant. No, the reason that people were wincing and covering their ears was because of the grating nasal voice.


Woman:

My skin was looking dull and lifeless until I started using new Nirvanian Skin Bright. Now my skin is bright and glowing with energy. What's the secret? Rich luxurious moisturizers and toners are supplemented with vitamin E, B and tiny amount of radium. Use it in the mornings and at night and you'll have beautiful glowing skin, even at night!

V.O.


New Nirvanian Skin Bright, get your skin glowing in just one simple application. You'll be amazed by the glow and the looks you'll get.

New Skin Bright requires both a doctor's waiver and authorization from government officials. Not for internal or external use. Those with an allergy to radioactive materials should avoid using Skin Bright.

Available at cosmetic counters and weapons exchanges near you. Try some today!


…and finally in the news tonight, an unknown individual called 'Magnifty' overtook local radio, television and power systems tonight to announce that he intends on taking over Boise. Reaction from Boisites has been mixed. Many were upset that his illegal broadcast interfered with tonight's season finale of BeastMaster on this network. But who is this person? Ken Griffith has this report.

Thank you, Susan. Boise residents were surprised this morning by the following announcement.

"Greetingth Puny inhabitanth of Boithe! I, Magnifty have arrived to take my playth ath your new overlord!"

From various reports we've collected, we've been able to tell that the broadcast appeared on anything metallic, from TVs to Radios, to toasters to several people's fillings. Investigators are not sure exactly how this person or persons were able to send out the signal, but FCC authorities have said that they plan on strong punitive actions.

Citizens I spoke with had this to say…


BM_BSev_682: Who the hell is Magnifty!?
MsRE: Who?
BM_BSev_682: some idiot named Magnifty. He showed up this morning. The news has carried some story about him.
Scarab64: so what's the problem?
BM_BSev_682: He's declared himself overlord of Boise.
PrfDoom: Isn't that your job?
BM_BSev_682: YES!!! HE'S MUSCLING IN!!!
Scarab64: So take him out.
BM_BSev_682: Good idea. I've got no idea who he is, what he looks like, or how to take him out. I'll just use my magic powers to whisk him away.
C-Rchn: You have magic powers?
BM_BSev_682: NO I DON'T!!
MsRE: Bob, calm down. These things happen.
MsRE: Just bide your time and wait for your opportunity.
Scarab64: Yeah something like this happened to me last year.
PrfDoom: It did?
Scarab64: Yeah, some crime lord wanna be started rallying up the gangs. It took some doing, but I managed to get control
Scarab64: of the situation. The idiot got cocky and slipped up, big time.
BM_BSev_682: I don't know what this guy has in mind, though. He already seems kinda cocky.
BM_BSev_682: Goofy, but cocky.
MsRE: What are the heroes doing about it?
BM_BSev_682: I'm not really sure. I've been sorta busy lately and I haven't heard much from them.
Scarab64: Well, be careful. It could be worse, much worse…
BM_BSev_682: Why? What else could happen?


Ken Griffith was slightly out of breath, but he was not alone. The square before the City Hall was brilliantly lit. Red and Blue pulses of light filled the open area and competed against the harsh bright light from TV news crews and various spotlights trained skyward. A crowd was starting to grow.

"Can you get a camera on him? He's up there above City Hall. Up further, No further! There he is."

The figure stood with hands on hips in a haughty pose, about twenty feet above the dome of City Hall. Several spotlights swung up to highlight him.

"Well, it'th good to thee my audienth apprechiatth a good entranth! Your new overloard ith here!"

'We'll see about that.' thought Bob. Margie gave out a low growl. Bob put a hand against her metallic hide to quiet her. Bob wasn't sure if she was needed, but it was walkies again. They had situated themselves on top of a nearby parking structure. This had not been Bob's original intent, but Margie had seen a squirrel.

Tony and Lenny were out finding what they could about the new-comer. Bob was quite confident that their connections with the criminal element were far superior to his, and he wanted to give them the opportunity to rebuild their personal esteem.

Bob adjusted the view on his binoculars. A set of earphones was plugged into Margie so that he could pick up the transmissions and monitor the situation. It was a bit annoying whenever Magnifty started speaking. Margie had a tendency to growl.

A sudden flash of color caught Bob's attention. He increased the magnification and focused in.
"Well, well, hello Puppyboy. Where's your friend? Ah, there he is. Margie? Sector 12."

Margie turned her ears to point to the appropriate sector. Bob heard the voices delayed a bit by the distance.

"Did I miss anything?"

"Huh? Oh, Grayhound. It's you." the voice belonged to some official who wasn't quite enthralled to see the Canine Commandos. "Did the circus let you two out early?"

"Huh?" The Grayhound sounded confused. "Look, this is pretty obviously not your run of the mill criminal or syndicate. As the superhero on watch, I figured I might be able to help out. Bob might be involved in this somehow."

"You wanna help? Stand clear."

The official grabbed a bullhorn and shouted to the hovering figure.

"This is Detective Wallace of the Boise Police Department. You are in violation of local ordnances and possibly a few laws of physics. Please vacate your current position and land immediately."

"Ha, Ha, You prethume to dictate to me? Your Thuperior? You are nothing but an ant to me that needth to be thquathed, thquithed, (damn thith retainer) dithpothed of."

And with a wave of his hand the eagle atop of the flagpole beneath him broke off and streaked toward Detective Wallace. Much of the crowd scattered, the Grayhound shoved the Detective out of the way of the streaking sculpture.

There was a very loud metallic CLANG!

"So the Grayhound is wearing LiquiSteel armor, interesting…"

The Grayhound was frozen in place for a few seconds after the impact. Liquisteel is a quite astonishing material and in that moment both Bob and the Grayhound realized why. It is able to instantly react by redirecting the force of a sudden impact against incoming objects, in effect, rendering the wearer bulletproof.

Of course, it also tends to redirect the force of the impact over the widest area it can meaning that the Grayhound just felt like he'd belly flopped off a 14 foot high-dive. It also did precious little to compensate for the inertia delivered by the three hundred pound metal bird. The only reason the Grayhound was still on his feet was because of the now heavily dented patrol car he had been standing next to. The now greatly deformed eagle slowly slid off the Grayhound with a second loud report. If he weren't already in a great deal of pain, the Grayhound would have probably noticed that it also bounced off his foot.

"OPEN FIRE!"

The night sky was illuminated with hundreds of tracers, which meant thousands of bullets now converged on the hovering figure. Magnifty simply continued to laugh. From Bob's vantage point, he could see why.

The bullets were stopping a foot beneath Magnifty. Bob let out a low whistle of appreciation.

Eventually the torrent of hot lead trickled to a stop as the officers either realized the futility of their actions or ran out of ammo. The wall of now spent bullets frozen in mid air began to slowly collapse in on itself with loud crunching noises. It became a rough sphere that crashed down on the marble steps of the Capitol building. Several people screamed in terror as they were sprayed in bits of marble and dust.

"Now it ith MY turn!"

Magnifty raised a hand. Several police vehicles began to vibrate and a jet-black helicopter blasted past him. Magnifty twirled in mid-air, this last event was quite obviously not what he had planned.

The sleek chopper made a hard bank turn. The engines and rotors screamed in defiance and dropped fast toward the main square. Floodlights blasted out of the bottom as it quickly descended, scattering news crews and T-Shirt vendors. Before the chopper had even touched ground three persons in matching purple and yellow outfits had jumped out and struck a heroic pose. Bob wasn't quite sure what one of them said as she pointed up toward Magnifty, but the response was unmistakable.

"You'll not thucktheed ath eathily thith time, Y-Guyth!"

Bob's brow furrowed very deeply. It looked like Scarab was right. Things had just gotten much, much worse. The Y-Guys had arrived.


Hang on a minute, I'm trying to make a chart or something. This is getting confusing. Let's see, we've got Chris and JB who are the heroes trying to figure out what they're doing, we've got Bob who's the evil villain trying to save the world and finish his degree, we've got the Justice Furlong who can barely tolerate each other, but have just been reduced to atoms and, and we've got a bunch of new characters who just showed up out of nowhere to try to take over the story. Plus we've got a bunch of other stories going on that

The author's got A.D.D, doesn't he?

It's on? Whoa! It's On! Where's my dang script?!

Who are the Y-Guys and what do they plan on doing in Boise?

If Margie is a 15 foot tall Robotic Dog, why does she need to go walkies?

Is any of this making sense to you? Because I'm really getting lost here.

Tune in next time for more bits of random confusion and wandering plotlines for...

Battle for Boise
or
Mortal Compote


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