Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dirt Road Intersection to the Danger Zone

I set the Danger Sled down about 200 yards from the crossroads and trotted the distance to check out the area personally.

My mouth dried quickly in the dusty wind as I made it to the intersection. I looked around and kind of shrugged to myself, it’s a fracking dirt intersection. There isn’t anything here for miles.

As I reconnoitered the area, I heard a faint buzzing sound in the distance. The buzzing grew louder and I looked into the skies and saw an old biplane flying towards me from the North by Northwest.

“Nice crop duster,” I chuckled to myself. “Not a lot of crops around here.”

I watched as the plane flew closer and closer towards me and then I had one of those revelations: the pilot’s coming after me. I turned and ran to try to get away from it, finally diving to the ground as it overtook me.

“You stupid bastard!” I shook my fist at the plane. “You got my nice suit all dirty!”

Apparently, the pilot wasn’t satisfied with dirtying up my clothes and circled around for another run at me. I turned and ran towards a cornfield, the only thing in the area that might offer me a modicum of concealment. I heard machine gun fire start up from the plane and bullets whizzed past me, kicking up dirt all around.

“This is gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets better,” I muttered to myself. I dove to the ground again and as the plane passed by me a second time, I fired my Wirstcomm at it. I shook my head as the plane began lazily circle around once more, unhindered by my counterattack.

As plane aimed straight towards me, I heard a different sound. Gunfire… From behind me. I turned and saw that FBI agent firing her pistol up at the plane.

“Come on you pinko!” She shouted defiantly while shooting round after round at the plane. “Come on, you stinking bastard, plant one right here. Come on!”

Smoke erupted from the side of the biplane and the propeller sputtered. The craft limped past us before skidding into the ground and erupting into a fireball.

“What are you doing here?” I asked in amazement.

“Looks like I’m saving your bacon, buddy,” she answered with a smirk.

Monday, February 25, 2008

(Air)Borne in South Dakota

“Greetings, Jon.” Professor Xavier’s image flashed to life on the screen. “I take you are now on your way to South Dakota to investigate that signal the Dreadnoks were sending from the Chester A. Arthur Memorial Clock now.”

“Yep,” I answered. “I’m flying there now in my ship.”

“I must commend you on your daring escape in that warehouse,” he added. “I monitored the whole affair and I have to say that blubbering like a child was pure genius.”

“That wasn’t supposed to be like a child,” I said. “I was trying to invoke the spirit of Private Hudson.”

“Ah, yes I can see that now,” the telepath nodded. “Very well done.”

“See, they had the drop on me,” I explained. “But then I made it look like I was scared for my life until that chick with the guns let her guard down. That’s when I got her.”

“Yes, of course. Perhaps that’s what Cyclops was trying when he curled up into the fetal position in front of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants last month.”

“Could be,” I shrugged. “I tell you, that dude was disgusting. He was all like bubbling and gurgling brain floating in a tank. If I never have to see something like that again, I’ll be happy.”

“Yes, I can definitely understand your discomfort,” the leader of the X-Men replied. “I was playing chess with Magneto the other day in his cell and he said something similar about his own encounter with Nemonok. I would imagine that anyone would find the sight of him disconcerting.”

“Yeah, well we don’t have to worry about Brainjar anymore,” I said. “I kicked his medulla across the concrete of that warehouse and back. That had the nice bonus of making my boots look all nice and new.”

“That’s good, I suppose,” Xavier replied dryly. “Back to the issue in South Dakota, I have several X-Men standing by here at the X-Mansion. They can get there fairly quickly in the X-Jet should you need help.”

“Thanks for the offer, but like I said earlier, I’m just going to check the area out. I’m not going to stick around if I’m over my head or way outnumbered. I don’t plan on getting into trouble, you know?”

“Yet trouble often has a way of finding you,” he replied.

“You know what?” I said. “I don’t think we have to worry about it. There is literally nothing there.”


“Nothing but dusty crossroads and a bus driving past.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gun Nut had me trapped... trapped like a rat

“Lilith, hold.”

The voice came from the darkness. It sounded human, yet not quite. The assassin known as Gun Nut relaxed her finger from the trigger.

“But Nemmy,” she called back. “I got him. Just let me finish him off.”

“You will. But Let us first answer his most burning questions: who and why?”

“Yeah,” I said as I relaxed my hands just a little. “Who’s out there and why do you want me dead?”

“We have met before, gladiator. A short while ago, in the future. You were keeping tabs on me.” A jar of bubbling fluid holding a disembodied brain slid forward out of the darkness. “I am sure you remember me now, no?”

“You do look familiar,” I admitted. “Oh yeah, you’re that one psychiatrist dude who’s now a bodyless brain floating in a big jar. What is it, Dr. Numb-something?”

“It is Nemonok as I am quite certain that you remember me. As to the why, I am sure you know my master as well.”

“The Intergalactic Psychological Association?” I asked. “Why would they want me dead?”

“Not the IPA, you fool. Galactor. I serve Galactor the Evil Galactic Overlord.”

“You mean Galactor the Evil Galactic Overlord, brother of Galacta Queen of the Galaxy?” I asked, showing surprise. “He’s got his evil mitts here? But there’s the embargo in place to protect Earth… that’s just… evil.”

“Galactor’s plans know no embargo. Now, my companion here will do the honor of extinguishing your pitiful existence.”

“So you’re the one behind this whole deal, huh?” I asked. “You hired Zartan to kill me and take his place and then you shot us down over New York.”

“Yes while I did take advantage of you during that storm and shoot you down, I have to admit that I am not the mastermind behind these other plans against you. Now Lilith, will you do the honors?”

“Gladly,” she sneered as she aimed her weapon at my temple.

“Wait a minute,” I said desperately as she re-aimed her weapon at me. “I don’t wanna get shot here like a dog. Come on, have a heart.”

“Clearly you can see that I have no heart to speak of. I believe that there is a precedent set to ask for any last words. Do you have any?”

“Yes… Please please please please don’t shoot me.” I folded my hands together as I begged for my life. “I’m begging you, man. Come on. Please… I don’t want it to be game over.”

“This is the famous Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator?” Lilith spat with contempt. “I thought he’d be a little tougher than this.”

“I just don’t wanna die,” I cried. “I have a wife and kids… and a dog… and a mortgage…”

“Please stop, your behavior is so unbecoming.” I think I heard annoyance edge into his voice.

Lilith sneered at my display. “Just shut up already, you little—”

Before she could pull the trigger, I punched her in the face. Her weapons clattered against concrete as she slumped to the ground unconscious. I kicked both far away from her and picked up my own pistols.

“Now see here…” Nemonok clearly saw that his advantage was gone. “Perhaps we have all been a little rash. We should talk this over…”

“I don’t think so.” I shot him several times with Betsy. They didn’t seem to have the effect I wanted, however, as the bolts bounced off his brain tank thingie.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you? My containment jar is made out of blasterproof Plexiglas.”

“Really? How about this?” I fired the sonic disrupter from my Wristcomm at him.

“Yes, and it is Wristcommproof as well. Additionally, that weapon is ineffective against me as I don’t have ears or a traditional sense of balance.”

“Well that’s interesting,” I replied. “Tell me, how does that big pickle jar do against LPC’s?”

“LPC’s? And what are those?”

“Leather Personnel Carriers.” I kicked the jar and it careened over onto the floor.

“Aggh! No!”

I continued to kick the jar until it shifted and pried loose from the base. Containment fluid leaked everywhere as I wedged my fingers in and pulled it loose.

“No. Please don’t! Have mercy, I beg you!”

“Now you’re begging for mercy?” I answered. “You were going to kill me and now you want me to spare your life?”

“Yes… Please…”

“Well, I have to tell you, this doesn’t seem like much of a life to me.” I wrenched the tank free and tossed the brain across the floor. It slid to a halt on a puddle and pulsed slightly. I calmly walked up to it and stepped on it until brain matter squished out in all directions.

“Noooo!” Lilith howled from her position on the concrete. “Nemmy! Oh Nemmy!”

“Disgusting.” I curled up my nose at her.

“You killed him!” she howled.

“Shut up,” I said as I knocked her out with a sonic blast.

Monday, February 18, 2008

In some ways, don't we all wear masks?

I triangulated the signal that was being sent by the Dreadnoks using my Wristcomm and the Danger Sled and determined that it was being sent to South Dakota. I need to get there and find out who’s behind this plot to discredit me.

You do realize, Jon, that you may be walking into a proverbial snake’s den? Professor Xavier mentally asked.

Of course, I answered. I know that Zartan is primarily employed by the international terrorist organization Cobra, but if they’re there, I think I can handle it.

What if there’s a legion of Cobra troops waiting? he asked.

I can handle myself, I replied mentally. I’m just going to go check it out. If I’m above my head, I’m not going to cause trouble. And if it I do get in trouble, it’s a well documented fact that when Cobra troopers actually use their weapons, they can’t hit jack.

I’m still not convinced, but you are certainly entitled to make your own mistakes, the telepath said. There is, however, one more thing that I wanted to ask you. This abandoned warehouse where you’ve chosen to rendezvous with your ship. You do realize that it’s an Arbco Industries warehouse, don’t you?

Uh yeah. So?

So Arbco is an anagram of Cobra.

I paused for a moment.

I know that, I answered. It’s OK, it’s an abandoned warehouse. Nobody’s he--

My thoughts were interrupted as I was grabbed from behind by cold, metal claws. It felt like my ex-girlfriend from high school.

“Jenny? Is that you?” I asked as I struggled to free myself.

“I am Maskatron and you will be eliminated,” a robotic voice replied.

“Dude, that’s harsh,” I replied as I struggled to free myself from the robot’s metal talons. “Maybe we could discuss this over a cup of coffee. I’ll have the coffee and maybe you can have a can of 10W30 or something.”

“Your comments do not compute,” it replied flatly. “You will be eliminated.”

“I heard you the first time.” I dropped to one knee and attempted to throw the machine over me and onto its back. I did succeed at throwing it, but Maskatron landed on its feet with a certain amount of grace that’s unusual for a robot.

“You will be eliminated,” the machine said for a third time. The claw on its right arm retracted and some sort of suction cup on a cable snapped out. With the flick of its arm, the machine attempted to snag me with the cable.

“So antisocial,” I shook my head. “I appreciate your efforts to tie me up, but seriously, a suction cup on a rope? That’s a pretty lame attack.”

“Your words do not compute.”

“I know, I know. Nobody wants to program their killer robots with a sense of humor. You’d think a laugh or two would be welcome from a souless automaton, but no.” If I know my Maskatron robots like I think I do, there’s a structural weakness in the neck joint. If I karate chop it just right, I think that I should be able to snap it off. I’ve only got one chance at this, though.

“You will be elimin-errp!” Maskatron’s head snapped off and clattered to the floor. The body stood rigid as it rolled across the cement. With a satisfying grunt, I kicked the machine over and it slammed to the ground.

“You cannot destroy me.” The robot’s head was still talking! “I will complete my programming and eliminate you.”

“You just won’t shut up, will you?” I pulled out Betsy and shot it several times. The head erupted in a shower of sparks before finally falling silent. “That’s more like it.”

A shot rang out from the darkness and my pistol flew out of my hand. I quickly drew Winona out of her holster, but she was shot out just as quickly.

“Don’t move, dirt bag,” a voice growled from the shadows. A woman’s voice.

“OK,” I put my hands in the air. Let’s see how this plays out.

“Surprised to see that a woman can get the drop on you?” she said as she stepped out of the shadows. This woman was well armed with weapons, a Mohawk, and a sneer.

“I can’t say that I am,” I replied. “Women are certainly just as capable of making a good shot with a firearm as any man.”

“Heh, nice answer.” She stepped up close to me as she leveled her Uzi right at my temple. “It’s not going to save you, I’m still taking you out.”

“Taking me out?” I asked in surprise. “I have to let you know, though, that I’m married. No funny business, OK?” I know I’ve seen her before, but where?

“Funny,” she laughed ruefully. “But I’m not going to take you out to dinner, I’m going to take you out to the morgue.”

“Then why walk up to me like this?” I asked. “You had the drop on me from the shadows.”

“That would have been too easy. I wanted to see your face when you saw who shot you.”

“Yeah, except I don’t believe we’ve ever met.” I held my hand out to shake hers. “Hi, I’m Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator and you are…?”

“Keep your hands up,” she snapped. “My name is Lilith, though some people call me Gun Nut. And we have met before.”

That’s right. On the Enterprise Christmas party. She was hanging out with that creepy brain in a jar. But why does she want to shoot me?

“I have to be honest with you,” I chuckled. “I’ve met a lot of pretty faces in my day. Maybe we could just talk abou—”

“Don’t condescend me.” Her weapon snapped up with a clack. “You men are all alike. You think you can turn on the charm and the women’ll just turn to jelly in front of you. Well, I’ve got news for you, you can’t charm me.”

“OK OK,” I acquiesced. “I just don’t want to die. I especially don’t want to die when I don’t know why I’m getting shot in the first place.”

“Too bad,” she smiled maliciously. The tip of her finger tightened its grasp on the trigger of her weapon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stop in the name of the law

“Don’t move!” came the command. “Agent Audrey Hanson, FBI!”

I held my hands up in the air and let my pistol dangle limply from my finger.

“Drop the weapon and slowly turn around.”

I complied and let Betsy clatter to the ground; I then turned slowly and got a good look at who was giving me these orders.

“Keep your hands up!” she growled.

“Yes ma’am,” I answered. “Look, I’m Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator and we’re on the same side. If you just give me a moment to explain.”

“I don’t care if you’re the Queen of France and I don’t want to hear it, buster,” she replied huskily. “I saw you out there and I’m taking you in.”

I don’t have time for this.

“Wait, you’re taking me in for hanging off a clock face?” I shrugged. “It was hanging on for dear life because these guys shoved me out there. They were trying to kill me, why don’t you take them in?”

“Maybe I will,” she said coolly. “Maybe I’ll take you all in.”

“Wait, you’re a federal agent, shouldn’t this under the jurisdiction of the local cops?”

“Listen, mister, when I see a man hanging off the Chester A. Arthur Memorial Clock, I bring the guy in. That’s my jurisdiction.” She then deadpanned the local law like some kind of TV police detective dryly reciting his lines. “Chapter 140: PEACE AND GOOD ORDER ARTICLE I – Defacing of Public Property, section 140-1. Defacing of public property prohibited. Subsection A. No person shall damage, break, mar, deface, injure or remove any building, fence, sign, fire hydrant, fire alarm box, streetlight, tree, shrubbery or other property owned by the District of Colombia in any manner whatsoever. You sir are the defacer and I’m taking you in.”

“Hold on, I said I was on your side.” I still had my hands up. “Let me show you my badge.”

She looked at me for a moment and let out a breath. “Fine. No funny business.”

I brought out my badge and showed it to her. “See? I’m one of the good guys.”

“Where’d you get that?”

“I helped out the President a little while ago,” I answered. “I got it from him.”

“That badge isn’t worth the tin it’s stamped on, pal,” she growled in disgust. “You have the right to remain silent…”

“Wait wait wait,” I pleaded. “Someone’s set me up. Someone’s trying to kill me and these are the hired thugs. You can have your bust, just take them in, I’m running out of time!”

She paused for a moment, as if there was an internal struggle going on in her mind.

“You’re running out of time,” she repeated. “I should take them in.”

“Right. Don’t take me in.”

“Don’t take you in,” she said flatly.

Wait a minute.

“You don’t want to arrest me,” I said as I waved my hand in front of her.

“I don’t want to arrest you.”

“You want me to go and complete my mission.” I waved my hand in front of her again.

“You need to get going so you can complete your mission.” Holy cow! I can do the Jedi mind trick!

“These are not the droids you are looking for.” I waved my hand in front of her again.

“These are not the droids I am looking for,” she deadpanned.

“OK, cool,” I smiled. “Well, I gotta go. You OK with these three?”

“I am OK with these three,” she replied unemotionally.

“Great, send ‘em to Blackwater Prison. Nobody escapes from there.” I scooped up Betsy, dashed out of the room and ran down the stairs.

Are you alright, Jon? I could hear Professor Xavier talking to me telepathically.

“Fine,” I replied. “I figured that was you lending a little hand with the FBI agent back there.”

Of course, he replied in my mind. Though I thoroughly enjoyed listening to you try to talk your way out of trouble, I assumed that you wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.

“Right, thanks,” I said as I threw myself out of the front door of the building and down the street. “I’ve got to get on the Danger Sled and track that signal.”

Where to?

“South Dakota.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

I've been hanging around

I was grasping desperately to the clock. The Dreadnoks threw me out the window and I was lucky that I didn’t make a big mess on the street below. I’m not out of trouble yet, though. Clearly this clock hand wasn’t designed to be dangled from like this.

I’ll have to climb up and then get my feet onto the window ledge to my side, all I have to do is…

Be careful that the whole clock face doesn’t tear loose and take me down with it.

I stretched my left leg out to try to get my foot on the ledge but I couldn’t quite make it. I heaved my legs to the right, then threw them to my left again and stretched. The clock face gave a disapproving groan and I felt it give just a little bit more but I also felt my toe tap on the ledge. I stretched some more, and just as I felt the clock face tear loose, I urgently threw myself to the window and managed to grab the frame.

I swear that I heard oohs and ahhs from a crowd below, but I dared not look down. Don’t look down is what they always say, right? I steadied myself in the window and then climbed up into it.

The three Dreadnoks were congratulating each other and walking to the door with their backs to me.

“Another job well done, eh mate?” Ripper laughed.

“Har, I bet Zartan’ll give us a big bonus for this one, eh?” Torch added. “We c’n celebrate with some frosty root beers!”

“’Ow about grape sodas instead?” Buzzer suggested.

“Even better, mate!”

“Not so fast.”

The three bikers turned around, shocked to see me standing there.

“Wha--!?” Ripper yelped.

“Looks like we still have a job to finish.” Buzzer turned towards me with a malicious grin on his face. His comrades flanked him with their own malicious, albeit somewhat dumber, grins.

“Now normally I would say something clever and then launch myself into you three goons,” I said. “I’m a little worn out and it’s getting late so I think I’ll just do this.”

I fired my sonic disrupter at them. The trio howled in pain and clutched their ears. They dizzily stood there holding their ears as I stalked up to them. I dispatched Ripper and Torch with a simultaneous left and right to their jaws. Buzzer’s face grew white.

“Heh heh, remember it was just a job, right mate?”

“Right,” I answered as I heaved my fist back. “Try not to take this personally.”

He fell back against the wall and crumpled to the ground from my right hook. I dusted my hands together and let myself grin as I admired my handiwork. I also noticed the radio that I had used against Buzzer’s face earlier had been on and was transmitting. I quickly dialed up the Danger Sled and had it triangulate where this signal was going. When I got confirmation that my ship’s sensors triangulated the signal, I shot the radio with my blaster Betsy.

Now I’ll just hook up with my ship and head out to investigate this—

“Freeze! Don’t move!”

Then again, maybe I won’t.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Kiera

Can you believe it? My number one Jr. Intergalactic Gladiator turned 6 today. I tell you I’m proud; proud as heck I say.

Here’s a picture of her from a couple weeks ago giving me a bit of the surly look. Yep, she can work that camera.

Here she is with baby brother Paxton. Sigh. I remember taking this picture like it was yesterday.

This one, too.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

All along the clocktower

“Har har!” the greasy biker laughed as he threw punch after punch at me. “You fell for our trap right good, oy?”

“Finish ‘im off Torch, then we can head back home for chocolate donuts,” the blond biker laughed.

“Yeah, and grape soda, too!” his companion laughed.

“Just fall down and this’ll be over, right,” Torch’s punch connected with my jaw and I felt myself getting dizzier and dizzier from the beat down. “You can barely stand as it is.”

“It’s more your smell… than you punches,” I managed to wheeze.

“Oh yeah, this’ll teach you to mess with the Dreadnoks!” Torch hauled his big paw way back and let loose with a wild haymaker.

Except I caught it.

Then I executed an excellent circle throw and tossed him over my shoulder.

“Haw haw! ‘e showed you good.”

“Shut up, Ripper,” Torch growled as he hauled himself up. “I’m no’ through with ‘im yet.”

As he stood up, I kicked him right in the stomach and he doubled over.

“Oh yes you are,” I replied as I gave him an uppercut that sent him sprawling to the ground.

“Ay! ‘e punched out Torch!” Ripper howled.

“Get ‘um!” Buzzer yelled. I responded by picking up a radio and smashing him with it. He crumpled to the ground but his buddy Ripper kneed me right in the stomach.

“Har, sure was clever of Zartan to delay you with that clue to give us time to set the trap, eh?” he laughed as he landed several punches.

“Ripper, you certainly do talk too much,” Buzzer added as he picked himself up and grabbed me. “Push him out the window now!”

I struggled against them, but they managed to overpower me and shove me against the window frame. Torch crawled back to his feet and joined his comrades and my head tipped out the window, followed by my torso.

“Not fair, man,” I gasp. “Three against one and all.”

“Try not to take it personally,” Buzzer chided. “It’s just a job, y’know.”

The three bikers laughed as I felt myself tip over backwards out the window. The wind rushed past my ears as I desperately grasped at anything to try to stop my fall.

Suddenly, I felt cold metal dig into my fingers. I instinctively grabbed for dear life as the clock hand became the only thing saving me from a long, bad fall.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Washington DC

I quickly flew to Washington in the Danger Sled to investigate Zartan’s clue. Problem is, I don’t know what I’m looking for and I hardly consider myself a detective. Sure I solved the Murder on the Orion Express a little while ago, but investigative work really isn’t my thing. On top of that, I’m still kicking myself for letting Zartan go. Who knows where he is now.

“Any luck, Jon?” Professor Xavier’s voice crackled on my Wristcomm. “Did you find what Zartan was talking about?”

“Negative, Professor,” I replied over the radio. “He said when it’s time for a change, where would I go. All I know is the key to it is time.”

“Perhaps there is a watch shop somewhere,” Xavier suggested. “It would be a good place to start.”

“I thought about that and even though there could be dozens of them in the city, I guess I have to start somewhere,” I answered. “Thing is, how do I know Zartan’s not throwing me off the trail with this clue?”

“He was being honest, or at least as honest as a fellow like he gets,” the telepath assured me. “The psionic blocker that he was wearing was damaged during your little round of fisticuffs in the alley.”

“Fine, so he’s telling the truth,” I answered. “Why even give me a cryptic clue in the first place?”

“If you find him again, perhaps you could ask him that very question,” Professor X replied over the radio.

“I’ll be sure to do that,” I said dryly. “Another thing I want to know is, why would Zartan try to take down my ship while he was in it? The damage on the Danger Sled was clearly from an attack.”

“The obvious answer is that he wasn’t involved with it,” Xavier responded. “If whomever hired him to kill you and take your place was the one who attacked your ship, I’m fairly certain that Zartan didn’t know about it.”

“Yeah,” I nodded. Yes I know that Xaiver couldn’t see my nod but I did it anyway. Don’t tell me you’ve never gestured while talking on the phone. “I think you’re right.”

“Back to the issue at hand,” he continued. “The clue about time, it would be wise of you to locate a phone book and look up watch and clock shops. It will take time but the quicker you move to eliminate all the—Jon are you listening to me?”

“Hold on, Professor. I think I see what Zartan was talking about.”