Chapter 10

[Cleaning out Uncle Harry's Attic]

Roger took a long sip from his Grande Decaf Iced Latte with just a hint of cinnamon. "Good God, would you just look at the crap he's got in here."

Vanessa cupped her Double Mocha Fudge Frappachino and sighed. She knew she shouldn't have worn the Anne Taylor outfit. And the dust would play hell with her sinuses. "Uncle Harry always seemed to collect the weirdest junk."

"Well, this stuff is just a little too weird. I mean I was figuring there would be some good kitch for Andre or something we could bring to the Antiques Roadshow, but I have no idea what on earth possessed him to collect any of this junk."

Vanessa gingerly opened a small crate, inside of it was what looked like an ancient broken plate with very high edges to it. She carefully picked it up so as not to get anything on her freshly done nails. Beneath it was some sort of hand written note in French or German. Maybe the gardener, Enrique, could read it. All she could make out was some word that looked like a misspelling of "grill". Maybe the note was in Scottish. She sniffed it, but it didn't smell like barbeque sauce, just like old wood and.. wine maybe? "Maybe the cat would like a new food dish."

Rodger looked at it and laughed. "Shi-shi? She wouldn't go near that." He bent over and unrolled an old parchment scroll, most of it flew off in shards, but he was able to make out something about "Knights Templar" and something about Oak Island. It looked a bit like a map and some sort of hall diagram. Rodger dropped the dirty worthless thing back behind some crates.

"Darn it!" Vanessa kicked a shiny length of metal covered by strange insignia. It bent easily. "I caught my skirt on this stupid piece of metal." The metal slowly reformed itself back to it's original shape. A small tag fluttered out attached to one end it had on it 'R - N.M. 1947', whatever that meant.

"Look, let's just find enough stuff we can donate to Goodwill so that we can get our taxes squared away. I'll have Tom haul the rest of this junk away. You know I hate what the market did to our portfolio."

"Well, there's this painting.", Vanessa said as she held up old dirty painting of a dirt road with a low curb that sloped behind a dark tree. A loose tag with the signature that looked something like "Cézanne" fell off of it.

"And look, here are some Halloween costumes."

"What are they?"

"Well, There's a cowgirl outfit with red, white and blue 'P's. Interested?"

Vanessa wrinkled her nose. "Hardly. Keep your little perverted mind on the task at hand, thank you."

"Some purple getup, a hideous yellow and green thing and.. my God, look at this suit! It looks like something out of the thirties!"

"Ooh, that'd be so hip. Do you think you could get it redone to fit?"

"Are you kidding? Look at the size of the jacket! You could fit two or three of me in here."

"And the red cape thing is definitely not you."

"Well, let's pack up what we can into the Range Rover. Maybe someone might find use for them."

A young man entered the downtown Sunnyvale Goodwill center, and began poking through the racks of clothing.

"May I help you." an elderly volunteer asked. It was midafternoon on a Tuesday.

"Uhm, I don't know. I'm looking for some costume materials."

"What kind of costume? I've got some nice clown costumes and some things left over from holloween."

"Oh, no thanks, I'm looking more for something with a cape and bad taste in colors." the man laughed.

"A cape? Would a red one be nice?"

"Yeah, sure. What do you have?"

"Well, we got a few things in yesterday, would you like to see them?"

"Yes, please."

They walked into the back room where the woman showed the four costumes to the young man. He said that they were perfect and the two of them had the nicest chat afterwards. It turns out he needed them for a convention he was going to. Some sort of silly thing that must appeal to those young computer people. Still, he was very pleasant. I just hope he's got a little lady friend who's good with a needle and thread.

[You Could be a Winner]

C'mon Chris, how long are you gonna sit on that?

Just a few more minutes, I'm just reading something.

Can't you just get a laptop or something.

Huh? Why, yours works ok, doesn't it?

I don't know, you've been spending more time on it than I have.

Mmm, mmm.

…and the 49ers skated to a two one loss against the Maple Ridge Blazers yet again. Watch this shot by Center Arnaud Hubart, Boom! Chew just couldn't get on top of that one fast enough.

Of course the big news is that the summer Curling Leagues, the Boise Broomers swept Albuquerque in the North American Bonspiels. Marcus got the stone right in the house but Albuquerque Vice Skip Tomas Samonez amazingly did not agree that the the rock was past the main hog line. The ref called, but things still got ugly later on when Albuquerque's skip Ymenez "accidentally" sneezed during Boise's delivery.

Hey Chris? What's this?


This scrap of paper you have sitting next to the TV with a bunch of numbers on it.

Oh that? Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me.

Hey Jonathan. It's me. Have they come in yet?

What are they, a phone number or password or something. It looks like a list of six numbers. It's got 16, 21, 43, 5, ….. 19 …..

Ok so how much for taxes? That's not too bad, and you get 40, right?

and 37…

You bet. well, send it in tomorrow. Congratulations.

Oh, and in other news the Polyphemes closed their series against some team from New York for some World, best of seven thing.

And that's sports for tonight.

Thanks Mark, and in closing news the $147,000,000 California Lottery numbers were drawn today. The state estimated that over four million people entered but there was only one winner, who has yet to claim the prize.

For the curious, the lucky numbers drawn today are 16, 21, 43, 5, 19, and the powerball number 37.

Wow, $147,000,000. What would you do with that money?

Be very happy, that's what.

Well, that's the news for tonight. Good night and..



Yeah, oh sorry JB, you were saying something?

Chris? What just happened?

Oh, I just called Jonathan to take care of something.

Would that something have to do with the lottery?

Hmm? Sorry, I think I just found the web page I was looking for.




Chris, did you just win the lottery?

Yeah, I guess so.




Chris, did you just win one hundred and forty seven million dollars?

Well, once you factor in taxes, and Jonathan's share it's more like sixty million payable over twenty years, but yeah.

You seem to be awfully calm about this.

Well, it does get kinda dull after the second time, but this was the biggest. Hey, I need to print out this page. Do we have any more paper?

Uhm, yeah, I loaded up the printer last night. We'll need to get a bit more. I'll try to get to McWhorter's tomorrow.






How often have you done this?

Done what?

Won a multi-million dollar state lottery?

Well, only twice so far. Once for two million and another for about eight. I guess this makes it the third time. I try not to do win too many of them.






Now can you afford your own laptop?

Maybe. I may have to do a bit of shopping first. Oh, and JB?


Once this conversation sinks in and you loose that whole 'deer in the headlights' thing, I want you to remember one thing.

Ok, sure, what's that?

Unless I approve, anything you buy, you pay for.


JB?? I'm serious here.


Oh God, I'm too late. Let me go hide the bloody catalogs again.

[Market Survey]

Excuse me sir?


I was wondering if you wouldn't mind participating in a market survey?

Sure, why not?

Great! Are you a computer user?


Would you describe your computer use as "infrequent", "regular", "lots", or "I need a life"?

Uhm, "lots", I guess.

Excellent, you're just who we're looking for.

I am? Cool. Glad to help.

Are you familiar with Pop Under ads?

You mean like those X-10 bull ads?

Yes, that would be a good example. Would you say that you find them "enjoyable", "tolerable"...

They make me violently ill.

Ah, so, "prefers a root canal". But do they get your attention?

You better believe they do. The pieces of throw up more bloody errors than anything. I can't even close them right because they're up.

Do you feel you remember the product?

Yes, and if I don't stop seeing them soon, I'm going to hide in their bushes with a baseball bat.

Are you familiar with Human Billboards?

What? You mean like those guys that twirl the big signs for housing developments?

Yes, like those.

I dunno. They seem kinda harmless.

Do they get your attention?

Well, yes, they kinda do. I mean they beat staring at the guy picking his nose...

Do you feel you remember their product?

Nah, not really. Granted, I'm not looking for a house so I kinda read the sign and ignore them.

Interesting. How would you feel about Human Popunders?

Excuse me?


What the... GAAAH! Hey!! Come back here you lousy son of a !!! Let go of me!

Did you find that experience "enjoyable", "tolerable", ...

He gave me a wedgie!

Did he get your attention?

Yes you stupid , getting my underware violently shoved up my hole does tend to get my attention, and if I see that lousy I'll shove a can of Pepsi up his !

Do you feel you remember the product?

Oh, Pepsi off!

Thank you, sir. Your answers have been most informative. Here's a complementary Pepsi logo thong. Sir?

Excuse me, Ma'am, would you be interested in taking part of a market survey?

[Thrilling Action Sequence pt.2]

From outside of the warehouse, a slow rumbling boom shook years of dust and soot from the rafters. A group of seagulls spread their wings and took to the air.

Inside the warehouse things were definitely not as tranquil.

JB caught his breath and leaned back over the broken remains of the previous half of the catwalk. Magnifty was still hovering near the center of the room, very much in control. Chris continued to make his way toward the far wall. Magnifty saw him, of course, and an oil drum slammed hard against the wall where Chris had been moments before.

Chris had gotten the lead after talking with Detective Wallace. JB hadn't gone with Chris, but he guessed that Chris had reached an uneasy truce. Chris had no intention of annoying the local police and wanted to make sure that both sides reached some sort of understanding, and what the Grayhound needed to do to help the professionals.

JB pretty much knew what the outcome was. If the job required clear thinking and careful work, the police got it. If the job required a couple of certified lunatics…

"You think you can thtop me? You have no idea of the power that I potheth!", Magnifty leaned back and laughed hard. He stopped laughing suddenly when a rope started tightening around his legs. JB worked fast to tighten the loops around Magnifty.

Chris looked at his brother expertly handle the rope, and stopped to watch. Magnifty couldn't manipulate the all natural fibers of the rope. Chris looked a bit confused. JB was a bit surprised as well, he hadn't learned how to tie his shoes until he was fourteen. Yet there he was closing the final loop.. uhm. wait no, that last loop didn't go right…


A sizable portion of the roof collapsed in. Both Chris and JB scrambled out of the way. The black Y-Guy helicopter crashed through the room, the blades kicking up whirlwinds of dust and shards.

"Don't these guys ever just walk in?" JB yelled to Chris.

Chris just shook his head in silent agreement with his brother. This was not what they needed.

Magnifty took full advantage of the distraction to shake himself free of the ropes.

"Playtime is over Magnifty. You're going down." Biclops yelled over the drone of the engines.

Sure enough, things quickly exploded just like they had before.

Biclops started off by sending a blast up toward Magnifty, who easily deflected it away with a sheet of metal. Still it was all the distraction that The Badger needed to hurl an empty crate toward the floating felon. The box shattered against Magnifty who fell hard against the still dangling portion of the central catwalk. Magnifty shook off the shards of wood and turned toward The Badger.

Magnifty's eyes flashed, invisible tendrils of magnetic energy whipped out. Suddenly hundreds of metallic objects of various sizes ripped from their foundations and careered toward the Y-Guys. Mentra erected a mental shield that deflected most of the items. One got through and clipped the heavy chested mentalist across her shoulder. She fell back.

"NOOO!", screamed Biclops who sent wave after wave of green ear-energy toward Magnfity. The Badger raced over to where his fallen friend lay, dazed by the blow. She put a hand to her forehead to try to clear the stars. Her injury manifesting as a dark smudge of grease on her cheek.

Magnifty held off Biclops wild blasts of energy with empty barrels and other scraps. Each burst into flames as they contacted the bright green anger driven bio-pulses. Magnifty's laughter mocked them all.

"Your weak and pathetic. Your feable attempth to thtop me are meaningleth. You all laughed at me when I wath in high thchooll, you mocked me when I wath living with my mother! And you giggled yourthelfth blue when I had to take the General Accountanthy Extham three timeth, but I thall have the latht laugh. I THALL BE THE THUPREME RULER OF ALL OF THE WORrRRrRoroaoorrrrrorrrd !" Magnifty jolted and spasmed for a few seconds, then fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

"Ah swear y'all are just thinking way too hard on this one." JB said with a nearly perfect Texas drawl and holstered his tazer.

"Detective Wallace? He's down. Send in the troops, you got him.", Chris said into his cell phone as he ran up the stairs to where JB and Magnifty were. The sound of patrol car sirens and the heavy thud of patrol boots split the stillness. "He's alive, JB is about to cuff him to the railing to make sure he sticks around for.. What the hell?"

Suddenly Magnifty floated up into the air. From the way he was flying it was quite obvious he was not in control. The fact that his eyes were closed and a long stream of spittle that dripped away from his helmet were also good clues.

JB tried to grab him, but Magnifty quickly jerked away. His helmet rang as it dented itself against a post. Chris turned to look down at Mentra who was quite obviously controlling the floating Magnifty. Biclops and Badger were already getting aboard the sleek black helicopter.

"Hey!" Chris shouted, "What the heck are you freaks doing? Magnifty is under the jurisdiction of the Boise PD."

He raced down the stairs and pounded on the closed hatch. He rifled through this pockets looking for something, anything that would take out the helicopter and not kill everyone inside. He summoned the wealth of curses and epithets that years of listening to JB code provided him. Fortunately for this series' PG rating, they were drowned out by the whine of the engines as the copter lifted off the ground.

Detective Wallace entered the warehouse to see the Grayhound pounding his fists then slapping some device onto the side of the helicopter as it lifted off and flew out of the warehouse. Chris threw a few other items at the chopter to no avail.

Wallace stormed up to Chris. Chris turned around to look at Wallace, neither of them was happy, but Chris definitely won the mad-enough-to-actually-spit-organs contest.

After fuming for a few seconds, Chris composed himself as much as he could and delivered the blindingly obvious statement, "They took him."

Wallace looked up through the hole in the roof. He crossed his arms and replied, "That's aiding an escape."

Chris' eyes pivoted to meet Wallace's. "Can we nail 'em for it?"

"I can get a warrant in an hour."

Chris turned to look at the Detective straight on and smiled a bit. "Think the Sheriff would mind getting a hand with that one? I think I can find out where they live." He held up a small tracking monitor that blipped.

Wallace almost cracked a smile.

[Who's There?..]

The automatic door slid open.

"And if that doesn't stop them, then the 50mm autocannons will." The Badger declared with almost too much eager glee as he vigorously rubbed his hands together. "This place is almost as good as the last joint. Nobody gets in or out of here without a fight. See, not even a blip on the MRD."

He smiled broadly and pointed at the blank screen. A green line slowly circled in a regular almost hypnotic pattern.

Biclops raised an eyebrow. "Did you test it?"

The Badger didn't like being asked questions like that. "Of course I tested it. It's state of the art. It can detect any Meta that comes within a mile of the complex, some even further. It instantly analyzes their powers and provides us with a full printout of whatever weaknesses they have." he shouted at Biclops as the spittle punctuated his words.

"Look I'm just asking because he seems to have gotten pretty far up the driveway."

The Badger looked at the video screen next to the MRD, the exterior cameras tracked a figure dressed in dark gray with a long overcoat and matching fedora who was jogging up the drive. As the figure ran, he stared at the back of his wrist which he held out infront of him.

The Badger laughed, "Well, well, well, it's our buddy the Doggy, or whatever he's calling himself. He wants to play, does he? Lets see how he handles this." He punched a sequence into the keyboard. With a near silent whisper a pair of bolos shot from opposite sides of the driveway to ensnare the Grayhound. Who stood safely just beyond their range, counting the seconds. The bolos breezed by his pant-legs and entangled themselves.

The Grayhound sprinted past the bolo range and continued his run up the drive.

Inside the control room, The Badger said nothing. His fingers typed another sequence and a second trap sprung in front of the Grayhound. This time a pair of motion tracking tranquilizer rifles locked onto their target and fired.

The darts quickly found their mark and had the modified Deluxe Super VibraBuzz (with titanium reinforced ridges) had a nervous system, the vibrator would have immediately fallen unconscious.

"So that's where that got to..." Mentra commented, mostly to herself.

The Grayhound continued his run.

The Badger was getting very irritated. "Fine, no more Mister Nice Guy."

The 50mm Autocannons laced the front yard with shells that tore apart everything they touched. Decorative shrubs exploded in a blast of greenery. Several of the external cameras winked out as the armor piercing shells ripped through the protective casings. Ancient oaks shattered and toppled against the near constant onslaught. Within seconds nothing was left standing taller than six inches off the ground. In most places, it was much, much shorter that that.

The only portion of the yard that was untouched was the front door to the building that Chris was closing behind him.

The Badger was definitely irritated now.

"I definitely think you should get this checked." Biclops offered helpfully as he tapped the MRD with a finger. The Badger turned to face him and glared violently. Biclops shrugged defensively.

"He appears to be headed toward the Threat TheaterTM" Mentra offered.

They all looked to the entryway camera to see the Grayhound consulting some printout and then resetting his stopwatch. He stuffed the papers back into a pocket, pulled out two items and headed across the polished marble toward the main hall. He carefully studied both directions and went for the third, a pair of huge mahogany doors. It was the entrance to the Y-Guys private training center, the Threat Theater©.

This was where they trained, where they pushed their advanced meta-powers to the limits, the Threat Theater® could befuddle them or kill them. It was something not to be trifled with, unfortunately, The Badger was an expert trifler.

The Badger waited until the Grayhound entered and stood near the middle of the upper dias. With a flip of the switch, the main door slammed shut and locked itself against the torrent that was to be unleashed. On the monitor, the rush of wind made the Grayhounds coat rustle a bit, but otherwise he did not display any form of surprise. He merely slipped on a pair of headphones and pressed "Play". He headed down the steps two at a time toward the main floor.

In front of him, two heavy tungsten cables lashed out of the wall. The Grayhound leapt into the air before he reached the bottom steps. The cables wrapped themselves taut against the metal staircase and began slowly constricting. The staircase started crumpling and groaning against the pressure. The Grayhound landed, spun and leapt toward one of the cables.

With arms outstretched he ran along the cable until he was near the center. Then, with careful timing and aim he leapt on the taught, thick wire and rebounded toward one of the elevated platforms. He miscalculated a bit which put him slightly off balance when he landed. As he dropped to the surface of the platform the first volley of saw blades slashed the air inches above him. The platform began to slowly tilt and shuddered as one of the blades sliced hard into the far edge.

The Grayhound quickly rolled himself toward the center of the platform then once again to balance it back. With a quick tuck he was back on his feet. Almost without thinking he sprinted again, with as much strength as his legs could muster, he leapt across to a matching platform and again scrambled to the center. He stood, counting, one second, two seconds, thr…

A bolt of energy split the platform as Chris was once again airborne, this time back down to the main floor. He tucked and rolled as both halves of his former landing crashed to either side of him. With a heavy twang, the surfaces came to rest against the cables. Chris was moving again, almost a blur as he dodged between rows of pillars near the far wall. Each pillar he passed was soon marked by a number of sharpened throwing stars as the tracking computer fought to predict where he might go next.

The Grayhound dove out of the pillars and slid behind a short barrier fighting to keep his ragged breath under control. He was sweating, hard, but he was smiling. The regular thuds had stopped meaning that the machine had run out of larger ammo, that meant the next round would be… he spun on his palm leapt the wall and launched himself across the floor toward the far wall. He kept himself beneath the horizontal hail of flechettes as he rocketed across the floor, a silvery trail flowing behind him.

Once he was at the far wall he waited a second or two for the clattering metal barbs to stop. A glint of red light moving against the wall caught his eye. He pressed a button and from behind one of the pillars a large doll dressed in a rather revealing red, white and blue outfit inflated. The laser flashed across the theater to the doll, fixed its mark and was followed by a bolt of a more lethal variety. The doll reflected a fair amount of the energy away before finally exploding in a cloud of burning latex and pressurized CO2.

The laser again found the Grayhound who was standing this time wearing dark sunglasses. But as it fired it was reflected back by the hand mirror he held. He focused the laser's energy back on itself and it exploded in a might arc of hot plasma and electricity.

Chris removed his welding glasses and heavy glove along with the somewhat melted remains of the pocket mirror and again raced back toward the staircase he came down originally. The Grayhound started clawing his way up the bent stairs as fast as he could. He reached the top and stopped for a second.

There was a clack-thud of something very heavy being released.

It was followed by a sucking noise as that same very heavy item began to succumb to gravity.

A very large, extremely thick portion of the ceiling began to give way. Wind siphoned up the hairline cut points as the megaton block began its unstoppable descent. The Grayhound sprinted toward the main door and pressed himself against the locked surface as hard as he could and prayed that his armor worked like he thought it did.

The block fell. The staircase crumbled beneath the weight, and the juggernaut crashed down to the main floor and landing between the two split halves of the platform.

The Grayhound was nowhere to be seen.

"That got 'im." The Badger said with a self assured smile and paused to relight his cigar.

They heard what sounded like a single explosion. It was really two small shaped charges triggered by a remote.

They cut the remaining portion of the crumpled stairway free. The cables were able to constrict yet again and snapped hard against the block.

It would have stayed there too if it wasn't for the thick layer of Super Glide on the floor.

A second later, the block was making a rather unexpected entrance to the Threat Theater(K) control room.



"Hi! I couldn't find the doorbell, so I had to use the knocker." The Grayhound said as he entered the destroyed room. "You know, they sell smaller versions of these things at the hardware shop, they're also a lot easier to use. I'm just here to drop something off. " He picked his way past the shattered control chairs and sparking consoles.

"Ah, there you are." Chris said cheerfully. He walked to the far end of the room where an assortment of yellow and purple clad arms, legs and various muffled statements were protruding from between the block and the wall.

"Sorry, couldn't get that. What did you say?"

A fist extended a middle finger. To further emphasize the point, a long metallic fingernail extended out.

Chris laughed lightly, "Ah, yes, well, I thought that's what you said. Anyway, let me leave you with this..." He stuck the warrant on The Badger's extended nail. "It's a general warrant for you all. The police will be by later to discuss your assisting in Magnifty's escape and illegal transport to out of state facilities."

The Badger tried to shake it off but it simply waved like a small flag.

"Surrender? Well, that's awfully kind of you, but I'm afraid I'm just a deputy. You'll have to do that to the arresting officers", Chris asked innocently.

The muffled curses were quite loud.

"Oh, that's right, I need to provide proof of delivery so, say cheese!" The room flashed a few times as Chris took pictures. "Ok, I really don't need to provide proof, but I just like being thorough. Well, gotta run. Have a nice day."

Chris made his way out of the room.



Then he stuck his head back in for a second, "Oh, and do any of you know if the drycleaner next door is any good? I don't know if this SuperGlide Lubricant stuff stains...."

There was a violent flurry of angry activity behind the block.

"Ok, ok. I was just asking. Gee, ask some folks about their neighbors and they get all bent out of shape."

[evil V iso 2+H, no exp necc.]

"Thanks Joe. No, I'm sure she'll show up. Just keep an ear out for any spontaneous screams, and I'm sure that she'd be nearby." Lenny hung up the payphone and sat back down in the booth. It was mid afternoon at the Beat Market, and the place was nearly empty.

Tony looked glumly at his partner. "Nothing up north?"

"Nope," said Lenny as he crossed the last name off of a lengthy list. "Eh, it rains up there too much anyway."

"So, there's nothing else available?" Tony asked with some level of hope.

The grizzled bartender showed up with two large mugs of beer. "Any luck lads?"

"No" Tony sighed.

"It's the market, it goes through these cycles." He turned and tapped a slumped figure sitting at the bar. "Isn't it?"

The man sighed heavily, "Times are tough."

The Keep stretched out his arm. "Look at this place. Why I remember a year ago you'd come in here on a night like this and you'd see a place packed with uniformed guards, lackeys, toadies, and henchmen knocking back beer and tips for getting their helmets fresh and shiny. Now, this place is empty except for the serious regulars and folks like you two. Two down on their luck henchmen looking for jobs."

"Well, we're still kind of employed", Lenny said as he handed the keep the money for the beer. "We're just trying to see what our options are."

"Ah, I see. Is it the random beatings?"

"Err, no. There haven't been any beatings."

"Well, then it's the endless torture and needless killings, then."

"No, uhm, there's been no killings."

"The sudden violent destruction of your beloved homeland?"

"Well, there was that, but New Jersey wasn't his fault."

"Bad taste in uniforms?"

"No, he doesn't make us wear uniforms."


"Well, he pays us pretty well."

"And on time, too", Tony chirped in.

The bartender looked at the two of them with a curious look. "So, what did he do?"

Tony frowned heavily, "He yelled at us for screwing up."

"That's it?"

"Yeah, and he also sic'd his dog on us." Tony added.

"His dog."

"Well, if you can call a giant metal hellbeast a dog." Lenny muttered.

The bartender looked very confused. "And... he fed a friend of yours to it, and you watched him die a grisly death in steel jaws, or something?"

"Well, no", Lenny admitted.

"It did tear the bumper off the van." Tony offered.

"Yeah, but technically, it wasn't really our van"

"What you're saying then," the bartender summed up, "is that you work for a guy that pays you well, on time, doesn't actually kill you, and merely wants you to do a good job."

"I suppose so."

"And you're looking for a new job."


"If you find one, can you tell me? I'll take your old one in a heartbeat." The bartender laughed and walked back behind the bar.

Tony and Lenny sat and looked at each other, somewhat chagrined. The phone rang. Lenny answered it.

"He-hello? Oh, uh, hi Boss. What do you need?" Lenny was quiet for a few second.

"No, no. I'm still here, but I wasn't sure I heard you right. Can you repeat that?" Lenny listened again. "Right, that's what I thought you said. Ok, well, we'll call you when we're done…."

Lenny hung up the phone and sat back down across from Tony. He took a very long, very deep draught of the beer. Tony looked at Lenny.

Lenny smiled with as much false sincerity as he could. "That's what I like about the Boss. He hasn't yet succeeded in getting us killed, but he keeps on trying."

[You know, MSG makes me feel that way too!]

These pictures are great, Chris.

Light's green, let's cross. Yeah, the're not bad for a disposable camera.

Man I wish I could have been there. You should have told me you were going over there.

No way, JB. It was far too dangerous for both of us. Especially with your preference for no armor. Besides, I regularly wipe the floor with you in Load Runner.

Yeah, I guess so. Watch your step.

Whoa, thanks! I thought there was a curb law downtown. Besides, if anything did go wrong, I'd need you to save my bacon.


Of course, it's what a sidekick is for, right? You get to run and get Uncle Clem whenever I fall down a well or whatever.

Ha-ha. So you and Wallace on even ground?

No, probably not, but I hope we're a bit closer. I think he trusts me a bit more. It took them about an hour to move that damn block and get the Y-Guys out of there.

Yeah, how did they survive that?

Apparently Mentra threw up some sort of sheild that deflected most of the force.

Of the block?

Of the wall. Those arrogant S.O.B's deserved it. Nobody sets up shop in my town without even asking me.

What about the dead guy?

Dunno. Wallace said they were still looking for him and Magnifty. If we pick up anything we should give him a call.

Ah, so now the Audiotron isn't such a stupid thing to have bought?

Ok, maybe we'll keep it.

You know if we get the server rack expansion pack and the telex low range satellite..


C'mon Chris, we can afford it.

What? No. Look, we don't know what's coming up in the future. We might need to buy a new car, or move, or get a toaster,

Or a nuclear sub, Grayhound Jet, or..

JB, I'm going to say this once and very slowly so you understand.

I hate it when you use big words like that.


Ok, ok. No nuclear subs.

Or jets.

Or jets.

Look, that's money we have for emergencies. Not, JB-gets-to-go-nuts-and-buy-every-bloody-gadget-at-Fry's" again.

Ok, ok. Look I'm the guy who stood in the return line.

And for that, half of your penance was done, my son.

Look, I'm not about to do that again. So where do you want to get something to eat?

I dunno, somewhere light I guess.

What about that bar over there? "The Beat Market"

Nope, breaks the "Au Bon Pain" rule.

The what?

I refuse to eat someplace where some form of discomfort appears in the name. C'mon, I think there's a Chinese place a few blocks away, we can grab something there.

Well, I hope they don't have MSG in the food, that always gives me a head-*WHUMP*


[A Quick Test]

It was the voices that woke Chris.

"Place the watermelon, there, next to the sledgehammer."
"What about the bike with a car door welded onto it?"
"Errgh, I hate that bit."
"Well, you can melt it down afterwards, but we'll need it for the experiment."

Chris tried to rub his eyes, the chain rattled and kept him from moving.

"Ah, Grayhound, good to see you're awake. I trust you're comfortable?"

The voice was unmistakable. It was Bob. Chris couldn't talk, the gag was in the way.

Chris' eyes snapped open to look at Bob, who was.. well.. not what Bob expected. Bob was, Chris guessed, about six feet tall, strong build, sandy blonde hair and mustache, mid thirties with glasses and was dressed much like anyone else. Granted, Chris wasn't exactly sure what an evil-genius in training would look like.

Behind Bob, Chris could see the two thugs from P.W. Herman Park and some sort of small robot thing moving a large assortment of cartoony looking props about. They were in some sort of warehouse. 'Good God,' thought Chris, 'doesn't Boise have any other type of building villains could get?'

Bob smiled warmly. Chris was suddenly very worried.

"Ah, those props?" Bob asked, "I'm afraid that you will soon find them very attractive." Bob sighed with a bit of mock determination. "You know, this isn't what I really had in mind. I didn't want to use this on you." He held up a large dull metal shaft in front of Chris. There were two bright metal points on one end that Bob pointed at Chris.

He retracted the rod before it touched him. "Unfortunately, plans do tend to change. I'd use it on your associate here, but that just seemed so cliché. Besides, I don't think it would do anything to him."

JB! Chris turned to look at JB who wasn't moving. Chris snapped his attention back to Bob, who was smiling again. Chris strained against the restraints and desperately tried to bite through the gag.

"Oh, relax. He's fine, just sleeping. Krullux, show or friend."

The robot walked over and displayed something that looked vaguely like the med-display from Star Trek. The indicators rose and fell in regular patterns. Bob didn't bother explaining, "See, just a bit groggy from my associates. They are experts you know, and quite skilled in such matters I assure you."

Chris shook his chains and strongly wished that he could show them what kind of professional he was.

"Now a few final details, and we can begin our experiment." Bob grasped his hands together and said with almost childish glee, "Isn't this exciting?"

Bob walked briskly over to a camera that had been set up on a tripod and began adjusting the focus.

JB moaned. A relieved Chris tried to get his attention.

JB slowly started to wake up, his head felt like it was rung like a bell. He tried to move and felt the chains. He had a strange sense of déjà vu. Something inside JB began to panic.

"I'm not quite sure I understand exactly what it does, but I'm hoping you'll help me find out.", Bob said as he adjusted the focus on the camera. He checked the monitors again to ensure that tape was rolling.

"There, all set." Bob picked up the device. He pressed and held a black button on the side of it. The thing made a high pitched whine as it charged up.

"From what I understand, this should be nearly painless."

Suddenly a lot of things inside JB began to panic.

JB snapped awake. "It's Auditin' time!…", and without hesitation JB tore the chains from the wall along with several large chunks of masonry. He turned to look at Bob and with a stunned expression cried, "YOU!"

The event was really quite impressive. Almost everyone in the room fell into silent shock. The one exception was Chris who was screaming around his gag as the prod lit his body.

Ok, let me guess, This was where Chapter Nine was supposed to end, right? Well I can see why. This chapter completely blows the budget. He's gonna have less money than Dr. Who and Planet of the Apes if he keeps this up.

Yeah, I know it's on. Look, they've been reading these for ten chapters. They're probably used to it.

No, I'm not union, why?


Is this the end of the Y-Guys?

Will Chris be opening for Gallagher and Carrottop?

Will I ever get my underware out of my crack?

Tune in next time for:

Fist Full of Photons
A Light Fingering

leah, did he really name it that? That's gross!

Ok, ok, I'll join the union..

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