Doctor Malevo stepped towards the powerless form of Paragon, the Ultimate Man, and squeezed the trigger of his pistol. Just then, he was struck in the back of the head with a rather large, rather pink, and not entirely unripe grapefruit.
“Who dares interrupt the slaughter of my pathetic opponent?!” He snarled, turning to see his assailant. In the back of the warehouse he saw a young man in dressed in blue jeans and a leather jacket. Around his head was wrapped a red bandanna. In his left hand he held another grapefruit.
“It doesn’t seem like Paragon is the only one with a weakness for citrus fruit!” the newcomer laughed.
Malevo aimed his pistol at the youth. “Dr. Malevo would know the name of his next victim. Answer me, child.”
The newcomer gave a toothy smile. “You can call me Tito, the Ultimate Kid!”
“I hate that moniker. I hereby rechristen you ‘Tito, the Ultimate Fool.’” Just then, a half ton of grapefruit fell on the mad doctor from above. “Nobody insults my kid brother but me!” cried a voice from the rafters. As a young woman, similar in appearance and dress to the first youth slid down a rope, she shouted: “Score another victory for Tina, the Ultimate Girl!”
Tito rushed past his sister to the crumpled form of Paragon. “Jeez sis, quit hoggin’ all the glory and come give me a hand. Paragon is in a bad way.”
Tina eyed the monstrous pile of grapefruit that concealed the body of Doctor Malevo. “That will teach you to tussle with The Ultimate Twins!” She moved to help her brother. “How is he?”
Tito lifted Paragon’s head. “He took one bullet in the chest. It looks like some grapefruit juice may have entered the wound. Hopefully, if what Malevo said was true, Paragon will develop an immunity to both the grapefruit and the bullet lodged in his chest.”
Tina was shocked. “If he lives that long, you mean.” Tito nodded. Just then, Paragon stirred. “uhmilate mahbl” were the only words to pass through his lips. “What did he say?” asked Tina.
“I think he wants us to carry him to the Ultimate-Mobile. Maybe there is something there that can save him.” The twins struggled with the massive form of their hero, eventually half-dragging him to the Ultimate-Mobile. Fevered and confused, Paragon keyed in the entry code and fell inside his high-tech crimefighting weapon. Before the twins could climb in behind him, the door closed and the car sped off into the night.
“Gosh, that was rude!” said Tito. “I don’t know why you made me help you rescue such a loser.”
“Hey!”, shouted Tina, “I thought he was your hero. Maybe he just respects his privacy? Anyway, I think we better get out of here before Malevo decides to eat us for breakfast.”
Inside the Ultimate-Mobile, Paragon faded in and out of consciousness. His thoughts became a confused jumble, a strange mixture of the events that transformed him from Dirk Darringer into Paragon, the Ultimate Man. The lights inside the U-mobile started spinning, and once again he found himself in the muted blue light of the arch-Wizard Tempo’s forgotten lair on the Mount of Duck Lodge.
Dirk was still wearing his parachute harness. The cows turned and asked him about all the forgotten birthdays. “What birthdays?” he asked. Hearing a strange buzz behind him, he turned to face it. Now wearing his Ultimate Man costume, he saw Tempo’s broken body on the floor in front of him. A female voice cried to him.
“The ghost is not yet ready.” Then Darringer was in front of the Ultimate Collective, wearing his sensei’s green robe. “Unworthy, but necessary” was the unified voice of the Collective. “In time, the hands will find their voice.” The pain then returned to his chest. Malevo stood over him with a book and a red candle. “Quack!” Then, Paragon the Ultimate Man awoke.
The U-mobile had dropped its only passenger off near Dirk Darringer’s office at the Morning Herald. Somehow he found himself not in his Ultimate costume, but in the civilian clothes of his newspaper man identity. “What’s the matter big boy”, asked a familiar voice, “another late night on the town?”
The sultry voice belonged to Myrna Maple, Dirk’s constant foil on the Herald’s sportswriting staff. “You know how it is Myrna, anything for a story.” Myrna feigned looking hurt. “Well you can tell me all about it as you drive me to Barkington Plaza. Steinhoofer is going to make some big announcement.”
“No problem, but why don’t we take your car.”
Darringer and Maple pulled up to the plaza just in time to see the owner of the local baseball franchise, Jorge Steinhoofer, step to the podium to start the press conference. Myrna was a little surprised. “I wonder what the big hurry is…usually Jorge is a little more relaxed at these things.” Dirk’s Ultimate Danger Sense tingled.
“I don’t know Myrna, but it looks like something exciting is going to happen.”
“Good morning everyone,” started Steinhoofer. “As you know, my ball club has had a solid lock on last place in the division for almost a quarter of a century now. I think it is high time we did something about that. I talked it over with the rest of the club, and I’ve decided to replace our manager.”
The crowd began to mumble, and Myrna snorted. Steinhoofer continued. “I know what you’re thinking, this is the eighth managerial change in three years, but I assure you, this time is going to be different. Dirk’s Ultimate Sense was on fire. He looked around for the cause of his alarm, but couldn’t see anything.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the new manager of the Dixon City Dodgers, Spurgo the Conquestor!”
The crowd gasped as the seven-hundred foot tall massive hulk of evil stepped out from behind the Barkington Building.
“Mortals. Spurgo the Conquestor has agreed to save your pathetic baseball team. This will only happen after Spurgo has enslaved your world. Prepare yourselves for the final glory that awaits the genetic insult you call…humanity.”
Next, Chapter 4: “Thrown out stealing!”
“Paragon and Spurgo tussle while the fate of Dixon City hangs in the balance! Will it be up to the Ultimate Collective’s previous failure, the Pen-Ultimate Man to save the day? And if Paragon should fall, who will be man enough to face The Ultimate Woman?! Come back next chapter, true-believers for these and other answers. You will be shocked!”