Chapter 9: A Farewell to Arms (and a few legs)

  1. Chapter 8: If This is Tuesday
  2. RAC Challenge!
  3. Chapter 10: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Blues

Brussels, Belgium…

“His name is Horst Bock-Pilsner Malevo and he’s the maddest scientist alive. Now he possesses the means to conquestor the world.” Malevo slipped a tiny round object, not unlike a superball, into a small opening in a strange, twisted device. And, much to the horror of the onlooking Paragon the Ultimate Man and Tito and Tina the Ultimate Twins, the ball fit the opening perfectly. Doctor Malevo rose into the air, crackling with energy. “His name is Horst Bock-Pilsner Malevo,” he cried, “and now he’s going to kick some Ultimate Ass!”

“Galloping Snails!” cried Paragon, the Ultimate Man. “Doctor Malevo now possesses the Ultimate Marble and the Jas Rswert! And he’s so drunk on power, he’s referring to himself in the third person!” Then Paragon realized the power of the combined devices washing over him as well. “No,” he gasped, “he’s also making me give… running commentary and plot summaries… this makes me wish I’d never… taken Tito and Tina to Brussels to use the Ultimate Library to learn about the mysterious Ultimate Menace… especially since Tito might have gotten brain damage from Tina constantly whacking him on the head… now no doubt I’ll black out from the pain and fall to the grou—” Paragon blacked out from the pain and fell to the ground.

Tina the Ultimate Twinette looked around. Paragon was down, all the Belchans—er, Flems—er, good citizens of Brussels had fled in terror, and Tito was drooling from his apparent brain damage. That would teach her to smack her own brother in the head with Ultimate Strength. Now it was up to her to stop Malevo.

Then Tina saw Mary Lu Retina: the Ultimate Woman, a psychotic super-villainess, and through a rather Dickensian coincidence, Tito and Tina’s mom. “Mom will save us,” Tina said, “just like the time our third-grade gym teacher flunked us, and mom ripped off his arms and bludgeoned him to death with them.”

Tina paused. When she looked at it that way, it was kind of dumb that they hadn’t realized their mom was the Ultimate Woman a lot earlier.

Tina ran to where her mom was lying unconscious on the ground, but before she could get there, Mary Lu suddenly became encased in a sticky yellow mass. Tina scooped a little onto her finger, and licked it. “Egg salad… with extra toluene! That’s Malevo’s special recipe!” She looked up at the flying Malevo. “How did you do that?”

“His name is Horst Bock-Pilsner Malevo, and with the Jas Rswert and the Ultimate Marble, now possesses any superpower he can imagine! He’d long planned to… oh, shoot, he’s doing it again.” Malevo flicked a small switch on the Jas Rswert from Third Person to First. “Ah, that’s much better. Now, where was he—I?”

“Possessing any superpower you can imagine,” Tina yelled. She was furiously scooping the egg salad off Mary Lu before Malevo also realized he’d left the Jas Rswert idling on Villain’s Lecture.

“Thank you, my dear. For that, I shall only kill you ‘fairly painfully.’ As I was saying, the unique combination of Marble and Rswert allows me to remove all carbon from my body. And, as I once told that idiot Paragon, carbon is the one substance that keeps humans from having superpowers!” [* RACChallenge #2—ed.] Malevo pointed to his left, at the floating editor’s caption he’d summoned to show just how powerful he was. “And now, with these powers, I shall—what the hell, did Paragon leave this thing on Lecture? No wonder the bastard’s so longwinded…” Malevo switched off the lecture mode as well. And he looked at Tina with murder in his eyes.

Some Spooky Asteroid…

“You see?” said the Pen-Ultimate Man to the two evil figures at his side. “Malevo and the others are too busy fighting amongst themselves. And with our proper entrance established, the Ultimate Collective will be helpless to prevent us from arriving on Earth.”

“You’d better be right, Reeves,” said the human-sized figure, grabbing the Pen-Ultimate Man’s neck with a cold metallic arm. “I have a score to settle, and I’m not letting anything stop me. Least of all the Collective.”

“Not to worry,” Reeves choked in a high-pitched rasp. “Those Ultimate Morons have provided us with the perfect ‘back door’ to Earth. Soon it will be ours for the conquering.”

Conquesting,” said Spurgo, the giant third figure whose mere presence filled the asteroid with evil, not to mention the smell of trout. “Spurgo likes his allies to say conquesting.’”

“Whatever you say, big guy. With all of the superheroes down for the count, Earth will be a conquesting smorgasbord.”

The mystery man’s metal fingers tightened around Reeves’s neck. His free hand pointed to the screen of the small Watchman they were all gathered around (a clumsy proposition in and of itself, because Spurgo’s toenails alone could have been said to be the size of large Dobermans, if Dobermans were giant toenail-shaped creatures about twenty feet tall). “All of the superheroes?” the mystery man cried. “Then who are they?”

Brussels, Someplace Marginally Less Spooky…

Malevo looked at Tina with murder in his eyes, and his twisted brain thought of the thirteen most despicable super-powers imaginable ripping her to shreds… all that remained was the act…

“Hold it right there, Malevo!” A green blur rocketed up from the streets below and careened into him. Malevo hit the ground hard, only remembering at the last minute to give himself invulnerability. He climbed out of the crater, and saw that Tina was now protected by six small children in green uniforms.

“Back off, Malevo,” the tallest child said, in French-accented English. “If you try anything else in this city, you’ll have to answer to… The Brussels Sprouts!”

Malevo was too stunned to say or do anything. But before the Brussels Sprouts could leap into action, a muscle-bound man in a silvery costume swept out of the clouds and dive-bombed the six children. Before the children could run, the flying man swept his hands forward. Each hand carried a large silvery disk with a square pattern on the inside, and the man clapped them together like cymbals, trapping the Brussels Sprouts in between. “You nevair should ‘ave let your guard down, my petites sprouts,” he cried, “for now you are at the mercy of your arch-enemie… le Belgian Waffle! Nyah-ha-ha!”

Malevo staggered around in a circle. All over Brussels, costumed combatants were springing out of the woodwork and beating the snot out of each other. Afraid he knew what was going on, Malevo looked down at his Ultimate Device.…

A Few Feet Away, A Place Of Equal Spookiness…

“Before I fell unconscious,” Mary Lu coughed, after Tina had scooped the egg salad off her face, “I set the Ultimate Marble from ‘stream’ to ‘spray.’ The carbon removal should have a much wider field of effect now…”

Tina gasped. “Then you mean…”

“Everyone in Brussels has super powers, and we’re trapped right in the middle of it.”

Again?” Tina moaned.

“There’s no time for complaining… get me out of this salad!”

Tina wasn’t sure if that was such a good idea. After all, Mary Lu was a homicidal maniac who could probably kill every single one of the superpowered Belgians. But, on the minus side, she didn’t let Tina and Tito stay up as late as Paragon did.

Then again, Paragon wasn’t much help right now. He was still reeling from Malevo’s whammy, giving expository dialogue even in his sleep. “Tina must be debating whether to free Mary Lu, whom we recently learned is her mom and my former sex kitten… meanwhile, I’m still unconscious, yet giving dialogue… now I’m giving dialogue on my dialogue… Drat! I’m caught in a loop… Drat! I’m…”

Tina realized the only way to get Paragon out of this jam was to start doing something else he could narrate. So she pulled Mary Lu out of the egg salad, and said, “We’ve got to get the Ultimate Device away from Malevo. Maybe that can undo the damage.”

“Or re-do some old damage,” Mary Lu said, looking at Malevo’s arms, which had the nerve to still be attached to his torso. They were kind of tantalizing, actually. Mary Lu charged across the street and grabbed the [* RACChallenge #2—ed.] caption, which had fallen to the ground after the Sprouts’ attack on Malevo. (The Sprouts themselves were currently being covered in syrup and butter by the Belgian Waffle, who was licking his lips.) Pulling the * out of the caption, Mary Lu hurled it at Malevo like a shuriken.

It knocked the Ultimate Device out of his hands. Mary Lu grabbed the razor-sharp d from the caption and put her hand through the loop at the bottom, wielding it like a cutlass. Screaming in triumph, she leapt at Malevo. Brandishing the d and eyeing his unsevered limbs, Mary Lu said, “It looks like this’ll be a farewell to arms… and a few legs.”

Malevo gasped and pointed behind Mary Lu. “This is no time for amputation, woman, particularly mine! We have to stop this terrible new menace!”

Mary Lu smirked. “I’m not afraid of anything that Brussels could throw at me. Unless Aaron Levitz was in the radius of your carbon removal and now has awesome super powers.”

“It’s worse than that, woman! It’s—it’s—”

A shadow loomed over Mary, who finally turned around. She saw the grinning figure behind her. And she screamed, “It’s… you! And… they’re still letting you teach gym?!?!?!?”

To be continued in RACChallenge! #10! But first…

Dain Bramage

The backup story, not at all spooky until the end.

It was all because his dad, Dirk Darringer aka Paragon the Ultimate Man, liked the Jackson 5.

Tito could still think. He didn’t look like he could think, because he was sitting in the middle of Brussels drooling—and not because his sister Tina had been smacking him on the head, but because of a much more sinister factor. Ultimately, because Dirk liked the Jackson 5. And he’d named his son after his favorite Jackson.

Tito tried to warn somebody, anybody, of the impending danger, but all that came out was a little giggle. Tito cursed the day he’d come to Brussels—wait, that was today. Well, he cursed it anyway. Dirk had taken him and Tina to the Ultimate Library to find out exactly who this mysterious “Ultimate Menace” the Collective feared so much was. Unfortunately, they only found grim prophecies… one book with a prophecy so grim that Tito had been afraid to share it with the others. And now he couldn’t warn them before it was too late.

It was in the Titonomicon of Abdul Al’Bhubles, the sorcerer who had been driven mad by his own work and turned himself into a chimp. Bhubles wrote that the Ultimate Menace would break through to Earth three times, each time heralded by a man named Tito. Once in Yugoslavia in the 1940s, to start a chain of events that would culminate in brutal ethnic cleansing, not to mention the most hideous car ever seen on the planet. Once in America in the 1970s, which explained the puzzling success of “ABC” and other Jackson hits. And once in Belgium in the 1990s, to take over the world and torment innocent souls by making them drive around in Yugos with radios that only played “ABC” and other Jackson hits. It would be a hell on Earth.

Tito had tried to leave Brussels as soon as possible, but then a strange paralysis set in and it was too late. His sister thought it was brain damage, but that was only because he’d laughed at the overused joke of reversing the letters to form “Dain Bramage.” Hey, you’d laugh too, if you knew that the Ultimate Menace was coming to Earth with his buddies Spurgo the Conquestor and the traitorous Pen-Ultimate Man, and they were using your body as the gateway… you’d laugh, because you’d know that the people of Earth wouldn’t have anything to laugh about once they got here… you’d laugh as Tito is laughing, because otherwise it would be a really depressing way to end this chapter… um, this chapter of his life, yeah, that’s it…

Will Brussels be overrun by superheroes? Will Tito bring the villains to Earth? Will Mary Lu have to face her children’s old gym teacher with only a lower-case letter for defense? Will the Belgian Waffle really eat the Brussels Sprouts? Will Paragon ever wake up from his trance? Come to think of it, is this really a blurb for next issue or is it just Paragon babbling?

These questions and more may very well be ignored in:

Next issue: Chapter 10: I Got Those Tampa Bay Buccaneers Blues by Mark Rosendorf

Well, that was fun! Let me know what you thought, because those bullies over in Omega rarely let me flex my humor writing! I’d like to thank Henry “Longest, Tallest, and” Broaddus for starting this enterprise, and all the previous writers for continuing it. Especially Kirk “Nectar and” Ambrose for providing a beautiful set-up, and Daniel “Chief Justice Earl” Warren for creating the carbon-removal plot point, which I’m sure he never thought he’d see again. And good luck to Mark “Dozin’” Rosendorf, who inherits a far more convoluted plot than any human deserves. It’s been a ball!

  1. Chapter 8: If This is Tuesday
  2. RAC Challenge!
  3. Chapter 10: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Blues