Chapter 29

... Have any information about the stolen lock of hair should contact either Sheboygan police or the Beth Israel synagogue.

And finally on a lighter note, several houses were crushed last night by an unknown destructive force. Several witnesses reported seeing a large humanoid with a flowing beard wearing what appeared to be a horned helmet. Police have not confirmed the reports, partly since the majority of them came from alpha phi omega frat house. Although police in Larchland have not determined what crushed the homes, and do appreciate any leads, they wish to emphasize that they are interested in serious reports only. I suppose that maybe we should ask someone in Minnesota if they are at war with us, ha-ha-ha.

That's our report for... *Pfip*

"Wait a minute." Chris looked at his brother while greatly elevating an eyebrow, "you mean you didn't find out what he was up to?"

"We followed him to just outside of Larchland..."


JB pointed to his head, Chris just nodded and let his brother continue. "... And tried to get close to him to see what he was up to, but that's when we saw him."

"Who 'him', Zrng?"

"No, the Viking."

Chris held up his hand. "You mean to tell me you saw it too?"

JB looked a bit embarrassed. "Well not precisely. Zrng must have seen him first because he kinda blasted out of there. I spotted a shadow and Karl felt a rapid departure was a good idea too."

Chris looked disappointed. "You really should have stuck around."

A few quiet seconds passed before JB said anything. "Excuse me?"

Chris looked earnestly at his brother. "JB you can't expect to become a proper hero by running away from the unknown."

Now it was JB's turn to look suspiciously. "Who are you and what have you done with Chris?"

"JB, I'm serious."

"So am I."

Chris could feel his temper start to rise, "JB, homes were crushed last night. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt."

"Yeah, like me. Chris, we're a team, right. Sure, I was out solo last night following Zrng, but that's just because roger is the best tracker we know, and it's not like he can head out on his own."

Chris felt a bit uncomfortable, but didn't let it show. "yes, but..."

"But nothing. Look I wasn't exactly prepared to take on something that was pounding out earthquakes and split level ranches by my lonesome. Plus if I did become jolly green toe-jam, you'd be stuck dealing with it yourself with no warning."

Chris thought about that. Not the thought of facing down the giant alone, but the thought of trying to explain to the folks why there was no casket at JB's funeral. "So, do we have any idea what it was?"

"Or where it went?"

"You sure it was a Viking?"

"We'll I'm not 100%, but I do remember seeing something like horns against the moonlight."

"But where the heck would a hundred foot tall Viking hide in Boise?"

"There they are! Boise's Beagle Brothers and my bestest customers."

Annie was his usually exuberant self. Chris waved weakly toward the assembled group of trench coated customers that stood in the more pubic part of Annie's House of Bondage. Unlike those customers, however, Chris wore pants beneath his coat.

"Annie" JB threw open his arms and shouted back matching every decibel of Annie's enthusiasm, "Did you get that shipment of edible codpieces you told us about last time."

Annie mocked disappointment, "No sweetie. They only had blueberry and you just know how that stains."

JB again matched Annie's overdone show with his own loud "Awww.."

Chris shot a deadly glance at JB. "And you wonder where the stories start"

"Oh be nice or you get the bottom bunk"

Chris continued to glare at the smiling JB, who was blissfully enjoying the general aggravation he was inducing.

"Well, don't just stand there. C'mon! C'mon! I've got all kinds of goodies to show you!" Annie waved Chris and JB behind the counter and into the back room.

Chris was subtly amazed every time he entered the armory that Annie kept. Unlike the first time, there were slightly more newer looking items than abused ones.

Suddenly Annie spun around and leaned uncomfortably close to Chris, "Oh and by the way I could just kiss you!" Chris blanched. Annie ignored him as he leaned back and threw his arms out. "Business has jut been out of this world since you got the nod! I've been getting better toys than ever." He spun around, still with arms outstretched. Chris narrowly avoided getting a ham sized arm upside his head while JB was carefully looking at a display festooned with blinking lights and meters.

"That's great Annie." Chris said with a bit less enthusiasm, "uhm, look, I just need to get refills on some stuff and ..."

"Oh, yeah! So how do you like the Super Stiffy?"

That caught JB's attention, "The what?"

Chris attempted to quickly change the topic, "It's working very well, except that the recoil takes a bit of getting use to, so do you have any of the immobilization foam.."

To Chris' frustration, Annie never heard a word of it. He had reached into a case and produced a pink cylinder, "Well, Chris got the cheaper version, of course, but I've still got a few of these in stock. Very popular with more than a few."

JB was definitely curious now. "What is it?"

"Well, this is the deluxe version, but if you press this button." The shaft immediately shot out to an eight foot length and began vibrating.

"Geez, that's gotta hurt." JB said wincing slightly less than Chris.

"Honey, let me tell you. Even I would think twice about this, but it's all the rage with some of the Amazon queens. It's called the Air Force Fun."

"Right well, about that foam.." Chris continued.

"You know Annie, I hate to say it but I'd agree with Chris. I think the vibration is overkill."

"I suppose, but this one also has a nifty bendy tip at the top to reach, err, you could use to latch on to things."

"Right, I'll also need some more of the lubricant. I realized that I was low after I took out the Y-Guy mansion and haven't gotten a refill in a while, so if you can…"

"Ooh, what does this do?" JB held up a rope that appeared to be made out of spun metal.

Annie smiled evilly, "That my darling is a specialty I had ordered. You ever hear of that rope that makes you tell the truth?"

"Yeah?" JB said.

"This one makes you talk dirty. Sadly, it's for another customer. I can order you one if you like, but they're a bit pricey. It's not so much the materials but the amazing amount of porn I need to send to that old perv wizard. You would not believe the stuff he gets into. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find underage meekrat films, and by God they better not be prairie dogs this time or else.."

"THE FOAM??" Chris shouted more than asked.

Annie rolled his eyes and began rummaging through a lower cabinet. "Ok, ok, the foam. Gosh, it's always work, work, work with you lately, well, that and cash payments and don't think I don't love you because of that, ah here it is." He pulled out a small set of capsules in a metal canister. "Here they are, guaranteed immobilization, immediate deployment, and safe for the environment. Best to keep them in the container unless you want to find out just how effective they are. I presume you want the usual assortment refill pack? Well, here they are."

A sudden alarm and a muffled yelp informed Chris and Annie that JB had successfully, if accidentally, managed to activate a restraint. Annie pressed a button on a remote control and a dull thud followed JB's release and quick plummet to the floor.


"Do you have anything that might help us against a hundred foot Viking?"

"A hundred foot Packer?" Annie offered helpfully.

"Excuse me?" Chris asked.

"Never mind. So, where is this Viking?"

"Uhm, we don't know." JB said sheepishly.

"You lost a hundred foot Viking?"

"We didn't lose a hundred foot Viking," Chris said defensively, "heck, we're not even sure he exists. I just prefer being prepared."

Annie smiled broadly, "Oh that's so cute!" He leaned toward JB, "He's a recovering boy scout isn't he?"

"I'm not a recovering boy scout, I was never a boy scout." Chris said angrily.

"It's true. He never made it all the way to full scout." JB said matter-of-factly.

Annie looked a bit confused. "Oh, come on, he had to be at least a cub scout."

"Yeah, but he never made it past.."

"Ixnay JB, IXNAY!!!"

The evil glint came back to Annie's eyes. "Let me guess, Weblow?"

"Do you have any idea how bad it is to sit in a room and have them yell 'Cub Scout', 'Boy Scout', 'WE-BLOW'"

"Why Yes!" Annie said innocently then in mock surprise, "Oh, wait! You mean as a bunch of little boys." Annie looked wistfully into space. "No, but I can dream."

Chris and JB looked a bit uncomfortable.

Annie laughed. "Oh you two are too easy. That's not my thing. I'm more into the lycra set."

Chris and JB didn't look more comfortable. Annie just kept smiling.

"Do you have anything that might help?" Chris asked, desperate to change the subject.

"Well, you could wear something a bit tighter."

"With the Viking!" Chris hissed.

"Oh, that silly thing. Well, I'm not sure really. I've got a few things. Here's a grappling gun, it's got kind of low mileage."

"What's this brown smudge here?"

"The previous owner. You want to be careful with the recoil on that when you're round big falling blocks of steel." Annie wrinkled his nose, "I've toned it down a bit. You're a bit lighter and a lot less macho. The cord is silk wrapped tungsten steel, so it can support up to five hundred pounds. That's the trigger there, and here's where you load the cartridges. It holds six, here's a box of spares."

Chris looked at the tool carefully. "Uhm, thanks."

"I've also got a few other little goodies…"

Chris' phone rang. He spoke three words. "Yes? Where? Ok."

He folded the phone and returned it to its pocket. "Sadly JB, you were right."

JB didn't want to feel vindicated.

"Annie, we'll take these, except for the pole. JB meet me by the car."

JB headed out the door as Chris signed the receipt. It was more a formality than a requirement, but it made Chris feel better knowing that his accounts were always settled.

JB was sitting in the passenger seat of the Maxima activating controls when Chris slid into the drivers seat. "Where are we going?"

"East Bay." Chris said flatly.

"What? Was he hanging out in a Best Western all day?"

"Maybe there was a good buffet or something."

"Well, we're low on fuel and the bridge is going to be a parking lot."

Chris smiled, "That's the fun of driving something that uses a hydrogen collector, we can fill up on the way."

The Maxima turned out and headed toward the bay, it didn't stop accelerating when it raced across the pier.

Some credit the climate. Others credit the devoted work of generations of craftsmen. Still others credit the rolling green and verdant beauty of the valley. Scholars, aficionados, and casual tourists all heartily debate what exactly lead to this location, above any other in the nation, to produce some of the finest vintage potato chips in the nation.

Papas Valley lies north of Boise. It's tranquil serenity and row after row of potato plants that line the winding valley roads have always been a huge draw with tourists. Oh, sure it's cheaper to simply go to the local market and get a bag or two, rather than to drive to a kettlery, take the tour and pay a tasting fee, but visitors felt the well manicured lawns and graceful vistas were worth it.

The delicate taste of deep fried potatoes filled the valley air and mingled with flowers and the smells coming from some of the best five star drive-ins in Idaho.

Unfortunately, this particular night, tourism was, well, a bit off. Although the news choppers were getting lots of good footage of the gigantic Viking boiling fish and potatoes.

Chris dove back behind the makeshift foxhole and landed with a particularly hard thud against the wall. He scrambled around to plant his back firmly against the near wall where JB was. "There!" he said between heavy gasps for air, "you happy? The tazer wasn't much use either. I told you."

"Did you set it up to maximum?"

"JB, I drained the battery on him and all I think I did was put his foot to sleep. Well, I'm officially out of tricks." Chris stewed for a bit. He was stymied. Some hero he's turned out to be. Can't even defend his city from a measly hundred foot tall Norse Warrior. "Hey JB?"


"Can't you get, I dunno, Karl or someone to take over and beat this guy up?"

"Doesn't work that way."

"What do you mean, 'doesn't work that way'. I've seen you do all kinds of stuff. You punched a bus out of midair for cryin' out loud."

"Yeah, well, it takes a lot of one of them to do that. Why do you think Karl doesn't talk much? Heck, he's still recovering from last night."

"Well what about the Detective or Becky Sue?"

"Since all they do mostly is crack comments and snipe at each other, they're usually around. Doesn't take a whole lot do to that. Plus it's not really like I can control who gets to drive. It's kinda up to whoever happens to be riding shotgun at the time."

Chris sat thinking about that for a bit. "You're head is like a car?"

"Kind of, I guess."

Chris sat thinking a bit more, "Is it stick?"

"Excuse me?"

"Your head. Is it stick shift or automatic?"

"What?" JB said a bit annoyed. "Look it's just a metaphor, ok?"

"Oh, right, sorry." Chris apologized and stared off a bit. "Hatchback?"

"Will you get off the car thing?"

"Hey, you brought it up."

"Don't remind me."

"I'm sorry JB. I'll behave. Although the car metaphor does explain a few things, thanks."


"Yeah. Stuff like how you and the gang were able to do stuff. Why you were brilliant one moment and your normal self the next. Why your left ear keeps flashing. Why -OW!"

"Laugh it up buddy-boy and I'll let Becky Sue decorate."

"Ok, ok, I won't mention it again. Today. Besides we've got a much bigger problem at the moment."

JB and Chris both looked to the top of the wall a bit nervously. How the heck were two junior superheroes ever going to take out a hundred foot tall Viking?

"Is he still angry?" JB asked.

"It's your turn to look."

"No it's not!"

Chris held out his fist, JB did as well, and they shook them three times. JB went with rock, but Chris was paper.

JB slowly raised himself over the low wall.

"Du yu boys need some help?"


"JB, Who, Wha?"

Both Chris and JB struck defensive positions as the slow sinking realization that the person that addressed them, while still Danish, was not over one hundred feet tall. Over six feet, sure, but definitely within normal homo sapien ranges, even if he was dressed head to toe in a strangely familiar looking red.

"I'm sorry if I scared you, but you looked like you could use a bit of help."

The Dogmatic Duo relaxed a bit and both looked slightly confused at the prospective ally.

Chris was the first to react. "Uhm, no offense or anything, but we're seasoned professionals…"

"We are?"

Chris ignored JB, " and we're having a heck of a time trying to get that Viking guy to leave. I really don't see where you might be able to help and I don't want to see you get hurt or…"

The Danish visitor laughed a bit. "Ah, yes, well, I guess it's understandable. It's not often that were in the area but some of us figured we should try to help out even if we are on vacation. Besides, you might say that this sort of thing is our specialty.

"Vacation?" Chris repeated.

"Uh, can you excuse us for a second?" JB inquired politely as he pulled Chris aside. "I say we give Red here a chance."

"What?" Chris quietly screamed, "Are you nuts? He could get himself killed and it would be our fault!"

"Yeah good point since we're making such incredible headway ourselves. Look maybe this guy has a few tricks up his sleeve for dealing with really big Vikings. Like he pretends to be England or something. Besides, the big guy looks to be getting into his lunch right about now."

The Giant began ladling out boiled fish and potatoes into a makeshift plate while humming what the Brothers Bark assumed to be a Viking War song. In fact it wasn't. It was ABBA.

"That doesn't sound good."

"So should we let Erik the Red here have a go at it?" JB asked a bit emphatically.

Chris was still not 100% sure, but shrugged his consent.

JB turned to the Dane, "Are you sure you know what you're doing? If we have to come fish you out of something, you'll wish that the giant got you first."

The Dane simply smiled, pulled out a cellphone and spoke into it. "Go, Go, Mighty Stackin' LEGO Legionnaires!"

Exactly what happened next is a matter of ongoing quiet debate between Chris and JB.

Go, Go Mighty Stackin' LEGO Legionnaires?

Go, Go Mighty Stackin' LEGO Legionnaires?

Are you sure that the author isn't
still nipping on that cough syrup?

Be with us next time for:

Is he valley trained?

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