Chapter 5: Into the Swamp, or How Can I Love You When You Killed Me Last Night?

  1. Chapter 4: Thrown Out Stealing
  2. RAC Challenge!
  3. Chapter 6: Picnic of the Damned

Merton Flagler never knew what hit him. The kill was quick and efficient—the work of a true professional. The killer stood behind him in a classic gymnastic ‘Y’ position. Satisfied, Mary Lu plucked the Ultimate Marble from Merton’s clutching fingers and felt Paragon’s Ultimate Powers flow through her, merging with her own.

“This is nice,” she thought, fingering the gold medal around her neck. “Five minutes and I’m already twice as powerful.”

"You?!” Paragon was at a loss for other words.

“Yep. Me.”

“But, Scott! You’re…”




“Uh uh.”

“I give up then. Tell me, Mr. Darringer.”

“The next author!”

Mary Lu was interrupted by a knock at the door. “Ah, yes. Tito and Tina, the Ultimate Twerps. Do come in.”

“What have you done with Dr. Flagler?!” demanded Tina.

“I’ve stabbed him in the back,” explained Mary Lu, gesturing subtly towards the knife. “Duh.”

“That’s the Ultimate Woman, all right,” observed Tito. Tina whacked him upside the head.

Mary Lu took her medal off and let it hang loosely in her hand, swaying softly from left to right. In her other hand, the marble glowed in hypnotic patterns.

“Give it up,” jeered Tina. “You know I can’t be hypnotized.” That was one of the many defenses her Ultimate Sunglasses provided her with.

“Actually,” explained Mary Lu, “I wasn’t trying to hypnotize you.”

“So this is all just a misunderstanding? You aren’t evil? You actually plan to serve the good of the universe?”

“Of course I do. But the good of the universe would be best served without anyone else’s interference.”

“Well, if you aren’t trying to hypnotize me, what are you doing?”

“I’m hypnotizing your brother.”

Before Tina could react, Tito took a bite of the Ultimate Sandwich and blasted her into tiny pieces with the energy this provided. Mary Lu picked up Tina’s shades and put them on. She had Tito hand her the sandwich, and instructed him to find a swamp and feed himself to the alligators.

Mary Lu took one final look at her recent victims. “I’ll tell ya, guys. You may not think much of me now, but you’ll love me in the morning…”

“So why am I here?”

“Well, the story’s about to become very difficult for you, and the Collective figured it would be a good chance for you to beg for your life.”

“Excuse me?”

“Look. For a short time, I’m in complete control of your destiny. Whether you live or die is entirely my decision. I have power, you are nothing. Grovel before me.”

“I have a better idea.”

Paragon spat in Scott Cederlund’s face. He punched Scott in the stomach, and kicked him repeatedly in the shins. “Paragon does not grovel.”

“Next chapter,” growled Scott. “You will understand the true meaning of the word ‘pain.’ Now get out of my sight!”

Mary Lu was about to exit the DIOS building when she noticed that the exits had curiously become sealed shut. A large television descended from the ceiling in front of her, and she wondered half-heartedly if it had cable.

“Well, Paragon! Let’s try this again. Same ploy—sealed room, lots of explosives. My sensors tell me you aren’t carrying the Jas Rswert, so you’re going to have to be a little more creative this time. Oh, wait a second. You’re not Paragon.”

“You can’t tell the difference between the Ultimate Man and the Ultimate Woman?”

“I was tracking him through the Ultimate Marble. He’s never without it. No matter. If you’re the Ultimate anything, I’ll enjoy blowing you up.”

“No chance.” Mary Lu reached through the screen and grabbed Malevo by the shirt.

“Can you do that?” he asked, incredulously.

Mary Lu shrugged. “Stop me.”

“Paragon never did that.”

“Paragon never showed up for class. He didn’t know what the Ultimate Marble was capable of.”

Mary Lu pulled Malevo’s arm through the screen and let go. The screen sealed shut around it, anchoring him to the spot. Malevo was impressed. He moved his fingers about and watched them dancing on the other side.

“Very nice. If I blow up the building, my arm will be caught in the explosion. That would hurt tremendously. It’s common knowledge that I’m not fond of pain, so you figure I’ll have to let you go. Unfortunately, the bomb’s on a timer. I can’t disable it unless you release me.” Malevo was finding it very difficult to make hand gestures, and the side of his face was pressed uncomfortably against the screen. Given the choice, Malevo would have been anywhere else on the face of the earth at that moment.

“Not quite the plan. I’m going to pull you through the rest of the way and climb up into your hideout. Then, I’m going to watch you die in your own trap.”

“I think not.”

Malevo twisted his arm around and pressed the ‘off’ button on the TV. The screen went black and Mary Lu was left alone with his arm. A second later, the bombs exploded, destroying everything within a 6 mile radius.

Mary Lu brushed the debris off her costume and surveyed the damage. This was exactly the sort of reason why she had to eliminate humankind.

For the good of the universe. A little bored, she attached Malevo’s arm and flexed it experimentally.


“We need to team up, Paragon.”

“But you’re evil!”

“You can’t defeat her alone. Not without your Ultimate Marble. You don’t know how to use the Jas Rswert, and I have no chance without it.”

“I’m not giving back the Jas Rswert. It took me too long to get it away from you when you quit the Ultimate Force.”

“Then we have a problem.”


“What was that?”

“Mary Lu just destroyed the Ultimate Collective.”

“That can’t be a good thing.”

“No. Probably not.”

Next issue: “Two Question Marks and an Apostrophe”, or “Picnic of the Damned”, by Scott Cederlund

Special thanks to Jerry Franke for giving me something to work with. Four days just isn’t enough. My apologies to Scott, and to whoever follows him.

  1. Chapter 4: Thrown Out Stealing
  2. RAC Challenge!
  3. Chapter 6: Picnic of the Damned