Chris was angry.
No, strike that.
Chris was anger incarnate.
That was a bit more like it, really. After all, he was getting a bit tired of all of this. He wanted simple things. Like finishing the job he originally had to do, get Bob under control. Lately though, there had been just too many distractions, too many things suddenly getting in the way. Things like the Y-Guys, the trip to New York, and now this idiot.
Chris half listened to the chef cackle in his Secret Hide-away Kitchen in an abandoned warehouse near the edge of town. He was blathering on about societies loss of appreciation for fine food or something.
That was the other thing. Why the heck did Boise have all of these abandoned warehouses? Didn't anyone actually store anything in these places? Was there some sort of villain section in the classifieds that listed the places? It was really starting to get major league annoying. Still there was one good way to find out.
"Hey, Pastry boy. How the heck did you find this joint anyway?"
"What?" the Ferrite Chef looked at Chris with a mixture of contempt and confusion.
"Did you find this joint in the classifieds or the Penny Trader or somewhere, because I really need to talk to someone about getting these things torn down or rented out. Probably cut Boise's crime rate by a good half."
"No, I.. I found it on.." the Chef stuttered, then composed himself as 'contempt' began to win it's battle. "Weren't you listening to me describe how I plan to conquer the world cooking league?
"Nope, not one bit." Chris said in absolute honesty. "I got bored with the whole thing, and frankly fancy pants the only thing you're going to conquer is your fear of dropping the soap in the shower."
The Ferrite Chef laughed menacingly. "I hardly think you are in the position to challenge me, Grayhound, those manacles holding you and your associate to the wall are made from the hardest pastry known to mankind, they are stronger than steel and cannot be.."
Chris gritted his teeth against the wave of pain that swept over his arms. JB shut tight his eyelids as the spray of fine pastry bits clouded the room.
"Hey! Not yet, I hadn't finished talking about my plan yet!"
A lance of energy shot from the pastry cloud and blasted the Spatula of Doom from the Chef's hand. Chris could feel the muscles in his jaw tighten against the searing pain that shot up his arm. It felt like he had put his finger in molten steel. The intense pain only fed Chris' anger.
"Well, now that was really uncalled for. We're supposed to have a big battle scene where "
"Buddy," Chris' calm voice seemed to fill the room, "you've got the world's worst timing. I just spent most of the day stuck in airports and planes, your wrecked my car, I got chewed out for not being around when you decided to go nuts, and you drop a huge muffin on the two of us and then gob us back to here. Worst of all, once again my dinner plans have been interrupted."
The Chef saw Chris emerge from the cloud of dust and suddenly the Chef saw exactly just how angry Chris could get. "I really hate having my dinner plans interrupted. I get all irritable."
"Mommy?" was all the Chef could whimper.
JB was a bit frightened as well. He knew his brothers temper.
"Chris, you're one of the good guys, remember?" JB said clearly, as a not too subtle reminder to his brother. He tried to free himself from the pastry, but couldn't even budge it. He thought hard about being the Captain, but there was nothing. He didn't even hear any voices. He felt helpless and very, frightened.
Chris grabbed the Chef by his collar and held him at arms length. "I am so looking forward to this " He balled up his other fist, and felt the hot tingling surge build.
"CHRIS! DAMMIT! YOU'RE A GOOD GUY!" JB yelled at his brother with as much force as he could.
He looked at JB.
JB stared Chris down, hard.
Chris looked at the trembling Chef. What was he going to do? Was he going to kill this guy just because he was an idiot? Was he going to take a life just because he could?
The tingling stopped, and the pain began. Chris let out a scream as the wave of torment hit him.
The Chef fainted.
JB rushed over to his brother. "Chris? Chris, you ok?"
"Yeah." Chris said quietly, his voice still harsh from the scream. "Yeah, I think so."
"Chris. Give me your phone." Chris gave JB the phone and stood still in shock from what had nearly happened. JB found Detective Wallace's number, dialed it and spoke briefly with the detective. Chris didn't really hear JB talking, he felt like a robot, disconnected from everything.
"Chris, where's your GPS?"
Chris reached into a pocket and pulled out the device. JB read the coordinates to Wallace and hung up the phone. "They'll be here in a few minutes. Chris, I know you're tired. Give me you're the cuffs and let's go home."
They rolled the Chef over and cuffed him. They heard the whine of the sirens as the found the front door. Two officers raced out of their car and toward the heroes. Later, officers led the shivering Chef into the back of a patrol car. There was a dark wet stain on the Chef's pants.
JB managed to bum a ride for Chris and himself from one of the patrol cars. The rest of the police corded off the crime scene for later investigation. During the night teams carefully collected evidence against the Chef, the Spatula was found lying on a pile of large Idaho Russets in the back corner. The metal of the paddle had been turned a slight bluish tinge, but it was none the worse for the ordeal. It would be examined and then returned to the DeTeen museum as soon as possible.
Slowly, everything was falling back to normal.
Well, until one of the potatoes blinked.
"Are we really fugativeth? Becauth my mom ith gonna be pithed if I don't call her thith weekend. Can we thtop thoon? I've really got to go to the bathroom. Ooh, can thomebody roll down the window? I think I'm feeling carthick again. You know I never could handle " Milton Weedelby (formerly known as Magnifty) suddenly passed out again.
The Badger flexed his aching fist and sat back in his seat. They were back aboard the sleek black YGuy helicopter. Normally it's impossible to even think on such a craft. The noise levels are nearly deafening. This craft was vastly different. With the silencers on the engine and muffles on the blade tips, it barely made a whisper. "Don't we have something else I can hit him with? My fist is starting to bruise."
"No. And you still can't kill him either" Mentra declared from her seat.
"Not even just a little bit?"
"No, it's wrong, no matter how tempted we all may be."
"Well, can't we just ditch him or something?"
We must determine what gave Magnifty his powers. Professor Y said, or more appropriately thought, to the YGuys.
The sleek black copter flew low to the ground becoming yet another bit of ground clutter to the radar that was undoubtedly tracking them. The Idaho hills blocked a fair share of it, but they needed to gather as much distance as they could before morning.
The ground swept by the forward window at a frightening pace. Advanced AI systems sent pulse lasers out to detect any possible collision and adjust the rotors appropriately. The craft was simple enough that a near idiot could fly it. Which was fortunate, because that's where Biclops happened to be sitting.
He was making airplane noises.
Somehow our new friend had managed to gain power over magnetic forces albeit temporarily it would seem.
"Well, he certainly didn't get them from a sudden blow to the head. Otherwise he'd be resetting every compass on the planet right about now "
True Badger, true. However, it's equally difficult too determine how he managed to acquire them while he lies in a somewhat torpid state.
"Well, lets wake him up, then" The Bager undid his belt and opened the side door of the helicopter with one hand he grabbed Milton's collar and held his head out the window in the blast of air. A few seconds later Milton's arms and legs began to flail about wildly.
The Badger yanked the panicking accountant back into the copter and slammed the door shut. With the outside noise once again silenced the vehicle filled with the heavy rasping breath of Milton. His eyes were very much wide open and a few leaves and twigs protruded from his hair.
"Good news Professor, he's awake now."
Mentra simply glared at the Badger.
Mentra turned her attention to Milton. "Mr. Weedelby, the Professor would like to ask you a few questions, if he may."
"Eeeba, effff thhhpp, mah mah "
"Yes, Mr. Weedleby?"
"My retainer! I dropped my retainer!!" Milton said somehow ignoring his recent awakening.
The Badger smiled and put a hand back on the door. "I can help you look for it if you like."
Milton clambered his way to the opposite side of the craft, "Oh, no! No. Mom will kill me, but that's quite alright. I'll just have to explain it to her." His naturally nasal voice was somehow even less appealing without the retainer.
"Mr. Weedleby?" Mentra continued, "When exactly did you discover your special abilities?"
"Well, I think I was twelve or so, but was after Mom caught me in the bathroom with her copy of Cosmo."
Mentra closed her eyes and quickly tried to dismiss that mental image. "No, Mr. Weedleby, the power over electro-mechanical devices"
"Oh that? I got it right after I got abducted, because the next morning I was down trying to make myself a piece of toast and the darn toaster is always either undercooking it or setting it on fire, which just frightens Mother's cat and then she gets her dander up and starts yelling at me because I frightened Mr. Tiddles who's scared of his own bowl of food, fer cryin' "
I fear that we may have to resort to a more direct method of interrogation, Professor Y thought; the hint of aggravation in his voice was not as well concealed as he wanted.
Milton, of course, heard none of that. He merely stopped talking and froze in midstream. His face locked in a stunned, expression.
Mentra had her eyes closed, delving into Miltons mind. It was somewhat similar to diving into a kiddie pool, possibly a slip and slide. She carefully made her way past various thoughts and memories toward the distant secrets she wanted. The events of the past few weeks played out in reverse to her like a tape on rewind.
Milton barely whimpered and formed a spit bubble.
Mentra scanned past Milton drifting into Boise, back to when he was in Chicago fighting the YGuys, back further 'til she hit something she couldn't explain.
She forced Milton to relive the fateful night. He was riding his bike home from the accountancy firm he worked at. His mother lived just outside of Downers Grove. It was late as he peddled his bike down the relatively flat roads.
Suddenly he found himself somewhere else strapped to some sort of table. A short greenish looking creature with black eyes appeared. There was a strange metallic pop, and hiss noise. The alien approached and placed some cylindrical object on a short table. The creature began speaking to Milton in a strange language, then appeared to move in a strange dancing way, repeating the same phrase over and over again.
It stopped and looked to Milton. 'Damn,' Mentra thought, 'Milton must have closed his eyes.' She delved harder to get Milton to remember more. The frozen Milton began to whimper as the suppressed memory was torn from him, still there wasn't anything he could do to stop it.
Mentra felt Milton's memory of the alien prodding him, trying to get his attention again. There, Milton was slowly reopening his eyes. The alien's brow was deeply furrowed. He was obviously not very happy at all. The alien turned and pointed to a screen. It flickered to life. Some strange tones began playing and the screen displayed several bits of alien writing. In the background a weird warbling that sounded something like it was in the alien's tongue began droning on. The screen displayed the Earth. It then zoomed out at a dizzying rate to show a vast armada of crafts slowly drifting through space. Various mathematical symbols began scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Just as suddenly the image zoomed back to Earth. Damn, Milton closed his eyes again.
Mentra felt the lingering sting of the alien's slap to Milton's head. He opened his eyes again to the very agitated alien pointing at the screen and yelling something.
On the screen there were several aliens dressed in human-like clothes, some appeared to have ill fitting wigs on. One alien appeared to knock on something that looked like the white house, only it was much smaller. An alien head wearing what appeared to be a suit popped out of the top.
The suit alien and some other alien with a large U on it's shirt talked back and forth the U alien pointing to the sky. The suit alien held up a finger as well and said something to the camera. The scene shifted to show a few other aliens putting together what looked like rockets, except for the fact that a few fell over and revealed themselves to be cardboard cut-outs.
Milton couldn't believe what he was seeing, and again shut his eyes to the message.
That's when it hit. Blinding searing pain that even made Mentra cry out.
She cut off the connection to Milton. As the connection faded, she dimly caught the vision of the alien pulling away some dark metallic device with two shiny metal points to it.
Milton collapsed, unconscious.
Mentra, are you alright?
"Yes, I.. I think I know what's happening. Professor, did you get any of that?"
I'm afraid I did. Apparently the Earth is in much deeper trouble than I first expected.
"But, who can we warn?"
I'm afraid that I do not know. Did you gain any knowledge for how our guest acquired his powers?
"No. I'm not sure I did."
Very well, rest now, we will have to visit his mind again.
A chill ran up Mentra's spine. That was one area she had no interest in returning again, provided Milton was to let them.
Chris and JB sat in a quiet corner of an all-night restaurant. Normally, they would have stood out against the more "mundanely" dressed population, but at three in the morning, nobody even thinks to look twice.
"I'll have a cheeseburger and fries, with a Diet Carffee" , JB told the waitress as he handed over the menu.
"What about him?" the waitress said as she pointed her pen at Chris. The menu remained untouched as Chris sat staring blankly at the table.
"He'll have the same." JB said. The waitress marked her pad and collected the menus.
"Chris? You there." JB said as he waved his hand in front of his brother's face. "You know, this was a lot easier when we did this the first time."
"That's because you just had a bunch of people setting up camp in your cranium." Chris said, slowly coming back to the present.
"Well, it's not so bad once you get used to the tent spikes." JB smiled.
They sat in relative silence for a few seconds, listening to the sounds of the kitchen.
JB started playing with his fork, "Chris, what happened back there?"
"I.. I don't know." Chris said. He almost never admitted not knowing something, generally preferring to bluff answers than admit ignorance. It never really worked with JB, and both of them knew that, still this was the first time Chris didn't try anyway. It leant a bit more of a serious tone to the discussion.
It was something that JB had every intention of letting drag down the conversation. "Remember the History professor we had in High School?" JB said.
"Mr. Stieb?" Chris said with a bit of a smile.
JB held back his hair and bugged his eyes a bit and said in a fair mimic of the man. "Absolute Power corrupts ABSOLUTELY!" JB quickly returned to normal.
The memory of the old teacher struck a cord with Chris. The man was eccentric, but definitely memorable.
"You know, he's right. I thought that having it hurt so much would make me use it less, but it just seemed too easy. " Chris held up his hand. "I never expected to have something like this, it's a bit frightening."
"I know what you mean." JB said.
"No, I don't think so. Yours seems to have come with a bit more of an instruction manual than mine."
"In some ways, you should be happy about that." JB said, then looked away for a second, "and you snore." He looked back to Chris, and waved it off, "Sorry, my own personal peanut gallery is getting uppity again. C'mon guys, this is serious, keep the comments to a dull roar, will you?"
"Mind if I ask you what they're saying?"
"Oh, Karl said something about 'Welcome to the Club', then Myron was going on about how real heroes don't need powers, and Roger started asking if being able to talk to animals was a superpower and things kind of lost it after that."
"I think I see what you mean." Chris said. JB just quietly nodded.
A twin pair of burgers slid in front of the brothers. "Here ya go boys." They were followed by the two beverages. Chris grabbed the burger and tore into it. He still was remarkably hungry. Within a few seconds the sandwich was gone.
"Mom's right you know, you're gonna choke yourself to death if you keep doing that." JB said as he finished chewing his first bite of the burger.
"Yeah, yeah," Chris dismissed," We haven't really eaten since we left New York."
"Did you eat now or just absorb that directly? Look, I don't know if anyone has an answer, but you've gotta keep your temper in check. I guess the best way to control your outbursts is to control your outbursts." JB took a sip from his glass.
Chris did the same and immediately regretted it. "Oh my God, what the heck is this?"
"It's Diet Carffee.
"And you willingly drink this stuff? This stuff tastes like, man, I have no idea what this stuff tastes like."
"JB, how often have you seen me with a cup of coffee?"
"All the time, right?"
Chris simply glared at JB.
"Oh, wait, that must have been my other superhero brother." JB said, while deflecting a french fry.
"Miss? Can I get a Diet Coke please? Thanks."
JB took another bite as Chris munched on a fry. "I'll tell you one thing, JB."
JB raised an eyebrow as he chewed.
"Whatever that thing was that Bob zapped me with? Imagine if other folks got the same thing to them. Heck, for all we know Bob, zapped himself and is preparing to take out Boise even as we speak."
"Nah, not likely." JB said with a bit of conviction.
"Why do you say that?" Chris asked.
"Well, if he did zap himself, I'm pretty sure he would have done it by now and we'd have heard about it. Well, unless he's trying to figure out how he can use it to wrangle cats again or something. I'm almost willing to bet he has no idea that doohickey did that to you."
"Maybe. But I'd still feel better if that doohickey was somewhere safer than in the hands of that lunatic."
JB stopped chewing.
"Chris, what are you proposing?"
"That maybe it's about time for us to go on the offensive."
Rhetorical observation presented as a question?
Pithy rejoiner posed as an equally bad joke?
Completely confusing non-sequitor that doesn't really help!
Tune in next time for
Tracking down the artifact
Party at Bob's
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Wow, it really shows when he's running behind, doesn't it?