Chapter 27

Recapping our top story, famed nomadic skink hearder, Chzkchljrrjk Jgrrchzczhp Jr. has just captured the new word record for flossing. Jgrrchzczhp, or as he likes to be called "Tzchrtczhggryrrchz", completed the eight thousand day flossing event using the same piece of dental floss. He credits his devotion to his effort, clean living, and having no teeth to speak of.

And finally, speaking of holy floss, several minor religious artifacts have been reported missing from museums, temples and personal collections world wide. Items have included Thomas Huxley's toothbrush, Confucius' nail clippers, and a comb once believed to have been used by Mohammad's barber. No estimate of value has been reported for the items. Authorities have also refused to comment on one report that the items were stolen by a group of two and a half foot tall, furry humanoids that were exceptionally well armed. Security for this weekend's opening of the Famed Toe-Nail Clippings of Buddha has been heightened.

And now we turn to Ryan Holstein with yet another point of view regarding Canada's Silver Medal efforts in Salt Lake.

It's brainwaves, man. That King Harald Dude, he focused his evil mind altering waves on Kevin Martin. He did things, man. Harald made the hammer like totally curl hard man. I saw him, man! He was all like oooOOOoeeeeEEEeoooooeeeooo sitting there on the sidelines watching man, just waiting for the right time to strike. And he DID man!

Thank you Ryan. Uhm, Ryan, exactly how much sleep have you had recently?

Sleep is for the week and sickly, man!

I'd like to take this moment to remind our viewers that the opinions stated by Mr. Holstein are not reflective of this station or it's management.

Even if he is the owner.

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.


Senator, you must understand that with any such operation, there are bound to be both protests and occasional complaints, but rest assured that we do absolutely everything to ensure that our residents are treated with utmost respect and care. Granted, we are talking about the most dangerous individuals known to mankind and the safety and security of not only the other residents, but also the surrounding populous is forefront in our minds.

That is one of the reasons that we've chosen the location that we have. We're not isolated because we are avoiding scrutiny; we're isolated because we believe that is the best way to care for our residents. Gentlemen, understand that these individuals are confused and often the product of less than ideal backgrounds. Often, the abilities that they have were not chosen. Instead, they were often discovered because of some element of stress. Need I remind you that a large number of our current residents are products of your so-called 'heroes' actions, victims of their mistakes and miscalculations or products of their wanton vigilante justices.

But I'm not here to lay blame.

You've asked me here to address some of your concerns. Concerns raised by the press, who are quick to jump on a story based on hear-say and third hand knowledge. Senator Fitzpatrick, you've toured our grounds more than once, and have you ever found anything remiss about how we operate? No, of course not.

Our record is unparalleled. In our thirty years of operation, we have not had a single escape. I'm certain that you all remember the days before we started. Senator Parker, how much money did your state spend on rebuilding some of the maximum security penitentiaries in your state? How many inmates were lost at Singsing during the Deathstrike incident? Rest assured that every possible detail is well thought out and planned. We have multiple levels of redundancy and top level security.

We also have something that few of the states could get, the full backing and support of the United Super Heroes Association.

Gentlemen, The Facility is a private, not for profit treatment facility that specializes in recovery of those who are biologically enhanced in some aspect. We do not have "prisoners" we have residents. Everyone who works there is carefully screened and dedicated to safeguarding the community and helping the residents return to a more productive life. Our Associates are not guards, they're people who share the burden that comes with being enhanced. In fact most of our current staff were once residents themselves. We understand what these people are going through and know how we can help them best.

If I may speak openly, the world is reeling from the events in Melbourne and New York, two unspeakable horrors that changed the way that we view the world. We have seen the very worst that we as a species are capable of. Naturally, we are now trying to find out what other monsters lurk in the closet. As a free citizen of the world, I not only accept that light, I welcome it. Perhaps in the past, previous directors had seemed secretive, but please understand that what we do is delicate and sensitive work, years of effort can be destroyed by a single careless moment.

Although our facility is not open to the public, we welcome any of you esteemed gentlemen and ladies to tour our grounds. Talk to our residents. Naturally, there will be certain areas that are strictly off limits since they house those that need the help the most. We will happily provide you with as much information as we have and I am sure you will be satisfied with what you see and hear.

Thank you, and I will now be happy to answer whatever questions you may have to the best of my abilites.


Who was at the door, JB?

Oh, it was the UPS guy again. More deliveries from QVC for Zrng. You know for a guy who's barely ever here, he sure orders a ton of crap. You're not paying for any of this are you Chris?

Nope, I told him he's on his own about that. He didn't seem too concerned about it really. I don't know how, but he's got his own credit card.

How'd he..

Online I'd guess. Speaking of which, did you find out anything more about him?

No, not a whole lot. Granted, it's not like there's a Galactic Yahoo! out there that lists all this stuff.

Wait a minute, you're wired into the Galactic Internet?

Apparently. Yet another present from our buddy Plaskowitz. I tell ya, Chris, sometimes being nice pays off.

So, what's it like?

Same as ours, but the porn is much weirder.

There's an understatement. So what did you find out?

About the porn?

No, about Zrng and his Gryllix buddies.

Again, not a heck of a lot. There are some mentions about them selling videos for a bunch of these really bad prop comedians… It's like they discovered this whole planet full of Gallaghers.

Eeehhhhggg!!

Yeah, tell me about it. Why they'd unleash that on the galaxy is anyone's guess, but apparently they were quite a hit.

Any luck they'd swing by and pick up CarrotTop?

Well, I guess we can try keeping our fingers crossed on that one.

Anything else?

Nah, not really. Most of the races seem to think of the Gryllix as being pretty harmless. Annoying, but mostly harmless.

Hmm. Can I say that doesn't make me feel better?

Why?

Well, considering that Zrng went toe to toe with that weird tree guy while every other alien in the room were gawking, I'm guessing that there's something more to this. Maybe the Gryllix are hiding something.

You're being paranoid.

Yep, sure am. Keeps me from getting killed. Speaking of Woody, anything about that Shareholder guy?

Bits and pieces. Apparently, he's something called a Jelvan, they seem to be pretty common and are pretty darn high on the freaky meter. They're plants that worship a cabbage and play a game that no one ever has one. Very zen.

So you're saying that they're all like that Shareholder guy.

No, actually, quite the opposite. He seems to be the odd duck. Most of the rest of them seem to be more quiet abnormal rather than loud abnormal.

How so?

They bought up all those tapes from the Gryllix like they were going out of style.

Wow, an entire race with severe brain damage.

Hey, "Facts of Life" and "Full House" were both number one programs here.

Point.

Maybe they use them to torture prisoners or something.

Well, whatever you do, let's not tell them about "Small Wonder". They'd wipe us out for sure.


Bob nearly missed it the first time, but the second time he scanned the classifieds there was no mistaking it. There, buried in amongst the other ads under the Miscellaneous section, was a simple three liner.

WANTED: Second FTL drive. First
one worked fine. Will pay top
dollar. Zrng BOX:33841

Bob wasn't quite sure if it was a joke or not. If he had mentioned it to the others, he would have sent a less than pleasant note to Nick telling him he's a real funny guy.

The only problem was that he hadn't told anyone about the drive.

Bob folded up the newspaper and put it aside. It must be a joke or some coincidence.

Coincidence. Yeah, that's it. Someone else in the greater Boise area created a faster than light drive in the past month and successfully tested it in a clandestine manner.

Bob was back looking at the ad again.

But the drive didn't work. He had Margie scan Jupiter looking for any trace or tell tale sign, and he didn't see anything. Or maybe he did and didn't recognize it because the effects of the artifact were wearing off.

No, he was fine up until things just stopped making sense. The effect had worn off very quickly with no sign that it was going to happen.

Bob rolled his eyes at his own thoughts. Like he was any expert on alien technology and it's effects on human beings. He needed to think.

He glanced at his watch, then grabbed the leash from the counter and headed into the backyard.


"No, this is insane. All you two ever do is eat out. Great Maker don't either of you know how to even use the microwave?"

Chris continued to flip through the channels on the TV while JB surfed the net, neither of them reacting that much to Zrng's outburst. Chris, having discerned the answer to his question continued, "So, apparently Zrng's not up for Chinese tonight." JB nodded lightly and was about to speak.

"And don't you dare suggest pizza!" Zrng nearly screamed at JB. "Great Maker! I've been here a week and all you two do is either eat cold cereal or get delivery!"

"Well, we used to go to restaurants too…" JB began.

"… but that turned out to be more trouble than it was worth." Chris finished. "It was a serious headache."

"And back ache, and arm ache, and shoulder ache…"

"Plus we usually wound up getting delivery anyway."

"Sometimes a couple of days later."

Zrng yelled in exasperation then stormed to where the "kitchen" was. He began rooting through the cabinets looking for something, all the while complaining. "I can't believe it. I know what human food is supposed to taste like! Your mother made some that was better than anything I had ever tasted and yet you two settle for that penc! Don't you even have a skillet here?" He continued on slamming cabinet doors in a vain attempt to find something to cook with.

Chris looked at JB and raised an eyebrow. "Sooo… JB? What about the Furlong?"

"What about the Furlong?"

"Do any of them know how to cook?"

"Roger knows which parts of a pine tree are edible."

"So they ate out too?"

"Pretty much every night. Occasionally someone would bring them a home cooked meal."

"Cool, how can we scam that?"

"Well, first you need to get the country to go to war…"

"Ok, that idea's out."

"A-HA!" Zrng cried as he pulled an ancient and more than abused pot out of a back cupboard. He set about cleaning it out then filled it with water. He stormed back over to where Chris and JB sat and carried the two of them less than gracefully back to the kitchen. He turned to JB first. "You, I want watching that pot. Turn down the flame once the water is at a roaring boil." He then turned to Chris, "You get to clean out some dishes and glasses. As for me, I'm going to take the shuttle back up to my ship and get some decent supplies. Maybe I'll stop by the store and pick up some spices or something too." He grabbed Chris' old overcoat and a baseball cap that barely fit, and stormed out of the loft mumbling something that neither of the translators could, or would, decipher.

Chris looked to where Zrng had disappeared down the stairs. "You think that disguise will work?"

"You should have offered him your glasses."

"Maybe next time."

Twenty minutes later Zrng returned to a scene he fully expected to find. The table wasn't set, nor was the water boiling. Both of these were probably due to the fact that both Chris and JB were running around the kitchen in a near panic swatting at the flames that were coming out of the pot.

Zrng sighed heavily and walked across the loft. He put the sacks of groceries on the table, then took the lid for the pot and slid it in place, snuffing out the fire. "Do I even want to know exactly how you managed to set the water on fire?"

Chris and JB both pointed toward each other and cried "His fault!"

Zrng, didn't look at them. He simply pointed away from the kitchen. The Dogmatic Duo took the not so subtle command to leave the area and resumed their earlier posts in front of their respected sources of information, occasionally muttering accusations back and forth at each other.

Zrng sorted out his ingredients and set about cooking. Within minutes the loft filled with a scent it never had while Chris and JB lived there. Efforts for either of them to sneak a look at what Zrng was making were quickly met by a near fatal blow by whatever utensil Zrng happened to be holding at the time. Considering the amount of chopping he was doing, the interruptions were generally kept to a small number.

"Dinner's on." Zrng yelled out as he pulled a casserole dish out of the oven. It had small roundish meatballs served rice and covered with browned cheese that kept the rice moist. Zrng scooped out helpings and served them on the plates and handed them to Chris and JB.

"Wow." Chris said as he looked at the presentation. "This looks fantastic and smells incredible."

"Careful, it's hot." Zrng warned. Outwardly, he didn't acknowledge the compliment, but it was nice to hear.

JB poured water for himself and Chris. Zrng had a rather large mug filled with water that had several other key ingredients which rendered it a light yellow and somewhat frothy. JB looked a bit hurt, "Where'd you get the beer?"

Zrng looked at him and stated, "When you start cooking, you can have some of my beer. Now sit and eat before it goes cold. There should be a salad or some vegetable to go with this, but I didn't have anything that you would find palatable."

"Wow." Chris said again around a mouthful. "This is really good. What is it?"

"It's an old family recipe, baked Navzny Grfgrf"

"Mmm, tastes like Swedish meatballs."

Zrng decided truth wasn't appropriate and simply agreed.

"So where did you learn to cook like this?" JB said as he too began enjoying the dinner.

"Well, when you're planning to spend a couple of hundred years by your lonesome you learn to get really creative with the rations." Zrng offered. "Plus, I enjoy watching your Food Network."

"All those in favor of letting Zrng do the cooking if we buy the food." Both Chris and JB held up their hands.

"Oh, no, you two aren't getting off that easy."

The humans looked disappointed.

"You also have to clean up the kitchen after I'm done, AND you're not through cleaning until I say you are, understand?"

The brothers Reid looked at Zrng, then each other, then the plate, each other, the plate again, and finally back at Zrng. It was rather impressive really. They could have gotten at least the silver in synchronized non-verbal communication. At the close of the exercise however, they both agreed.

Zrng smiled a bit. "Good, and if I catch either of you messing with my cookware…"


Director Simmons, welcome back. How was your testimony?

Six hours of pure hell, Boyd. But I think I got them off of our back for a while. Did I miss any excitement?

Well, TSD-2 had a malfunction for about half an hour…

Oh Lord, no. Did anyone find out?

Unfortunately, yes, a few residents in Zone 12 had a bit of a dispute. Fortunately we were able to move in quickly once we got it back on-line. Casualties were minimal.

What about Black Zone?

They were unaffected by the outage.

Thank God. Boyd, when will we get enough funds from central to get those damn towers fixed properly?

I don't know, sir. The budget hasn't been approved yet.

*sigh*, what else happened?

Resident Edward Meyer is apparently unaccounted for.

Meyer?

Yes sir, I believe he was called the Ferrite Chef. He was a firster and was in the low security section. He failed to report in for morning roll. We've also not been able to pick up his transponder either. We've sent out trackers, but they've turned up nothing.

When did this happen?

We think it was some time this morning.

And how long have the trackers been out there?

About ten hours sir.

Better call them in then. No sense wasting the money.

Should I reclassify Resident Meyer?

Sure, how long had he been here?

About six months, sir. He sentence was for two years.

Well, I'd say that he made remarkable progress then.

Very good, sir. I will notify central that he has been released.

Between you and me Boyd?

Sir?

He'll probably end up dead in a couple of days anyway. It's wilderness out there for miles and miles. Where the hell is he gonna run? Saves us the cost of keeping him.

Yes, sir. If I may sir, you have a 10 o'clock call this morning with Commissioner Duquais from SOIL.


Holy Mint Jelly!

The Chef's on the Lamb?

Zrng's in the kitchen?

And King Harald's exerting more than just
political pressure on the games.
Ok, not really, but you explain how the
heck Norway won that last end.

Be with us next time when the author addresses that darn curling addiction in:

Making a Mental Note
or
Scans Serif

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