At the counter, the older guy seated next to him gave a low whistle. "That there is a

beautiful Merc. How many times have you rolled the odometer?"

"None." The Detective replied as he continued to make lazy circles in his coffee. "It's been

in storage."


"Well, sure is a beaut. Although you're about three weeks early for the car show."

"I'm not here for the show, I'm just looking for a.. new job and was merely sizing up the


The stranger raised an eyebrow, "You deal cards?"

"No," the Detective stated annoyed by the gabby nature of the counter. "I'm a special


"Ah, well, certainly are a lot of those here in Reno." the man smiled. Unaware of the

amount of salt he happened to be rubbing into the Detective's current wound.

"So I've noticed"

"Still," the man said, effecting a more sagely manner as he scratched beneath his baseball

cap. "I think I know what you're going through."

"Oh really." The Detective stated flatly, not really caring.

"Yep." The man said with a sigh, and then leaned closer, "You see, I used to be in the

protection racket meself. No, no the legitimate one that seems to require funny long-johns.

Used to be known as 'Flashpaper' seeing how I've got this talent for making paper and fabric

explode. I'd charge up a wadded up ball of cloth and toss it at the bad guys and BOOM!"

"you don't say", the Detective said in a tone that dropped the temperature by four degrees.

"Yep, It was a kick for a while, but eventually I just got old. Still, I managed to wrangle a

few good book deals. Enough for me to get that RV out there. Came out here a few years

ago to try my hand in the Casinos."


"Went pretty well, too." The man beamed, "made me some right good cash at it too." His

expression dropped, "well, 'til I got that royal flush and the cards exploded." He frowned at

his coffee for a few enjoyable heartbeats of silence. Then he slipped a hand back beneath

his cap and scratched. "I suppose that's probably the reason they don't let metas into the

casino anymore."

The Detective groaned as yet another opportunity rocketed out of his reach.

The man suddenly became very serious. "But that's when I found me some religion."

Myron let his head slowly descend to the counter top.

"You see my friend, I can't begin to describe what kind of joy has entered my soul once I


found my path and let Odin into my life. You ok buddy?"

Myron stopped slowly beating his head against the counter. "I'm fine."

"Though I kinda wish I'd found my way using a religion that didn't involve quite so much

sacrifice. You have any idea how hard it is to find a virgin goat around here?"

The waitress finally arrived with the Detective's meal. He looked at it in a combination of

eagerness and disappointment. The eagerness was from the fact that he hadn't eaten since

yesterday. The disappointment was because he now had no excuse to run from his


"Still, there are a few things I've learned from following a pantheon of mostly

unpronounceable deities, and the most important thing is that if you go it alone, you wind

up stuck under some big tree with Iggy's dredel with a bunch of angry Bothans." He paused,

"Ain't those the guys from Star Wars? From the way that the picture book showed them,

they were really big."

The older man thought about pausing, then thought better of it. Myron tried to drown him

out by chewing on the louder parts of his hamburger.

"Well, anyway, when those guys actually stuck together, that's when things really worked.

They were a team and things went alright when they acted like one. Really makes me wish

I'd stuck with my old team instead of striking out on my own, I suppose I might have..."

A woman, that could only be described as.. aarrwaarrrgghahhhwww straightened her leather

bodice as she walked out of the bathrooms. Her long, braided blonde hair swung down and

brushed the top of her steel rimmed boots. She brushed a few bits of dust from her taut

skirt, as she spoke something in what Myron presumed was Swedish.

"And that would be the other thing I've learned. Ancient daughters of Valhalla really dig

guys who are into Nordic Mythology."

Myron swallowed, slowly.

"Ya, know Lovisa, I really wish you wouldn't wear that outfit when we're traveling."

"Flash, you know that the evil in men's hearts can strike at any hour.", the valkyre said

calmly as she towered above her husband.

He flipped a few dollars onto the counter and slid off his stool. "I know, I know, it's just

that, sometimes I get tired of being asked where 'Hooters' is."

Lovisa struck a defensive stance that only served to remove any further oxygen from the

male portion of the diner. "Owls? Does Hel send her tidings!?"


Flashpaper simply sighed heavily and slipped his arm up under hers. "C'mon darling. Let's

get back on the road again." He paused at the door. "Hey, buddy", he called back to Myron,

"remember what I said. 'Sometimes being a team is better than being alone'."

And with that, the two departed.

It was still a good three minutes after the RV was lost from sight that anyone in the diner

moved again.

"Bob Honey?" Avie called back, "What are you doing?"

Bob quickly put away the polished chrome helmet and black cape that he planned on

wearing on graduation day. "Nothing. I was just looking at something."

"Oh, Bob, you're still not bothered by what that stupid Dean said, are you?"

"No", Bob lied. Avey didn't buy it either.

"Bob, look, I know it's been a dream of yours, but you're doing great. In fact didn't you just

get a huge bonus for the last ad campaign?"

"The one for Altroids, The Curiously Strong Suppository? Yeah. I suppose." Bob shrugged.

Being in marketing was almost as good, and he could use all of the skills he had learned,

but there was still something missing.

Avie put her hand under Bob's chin and turned his head to look at him. "You know, Bob,

you've never told me why you wanted to be a chaos advocate."

"Well," Bob began, "it's more keeping up the family traditions more than anything. Mom

was a lobbyist and Dad sold used cars. So, it's always been something our family has done.

We'd get together on weekends and play Risk, bake cookies and plot how to overthrow the


"Yes, I know. But why do you want to do it?"

Bob sat and thought. In all honesty, he wasn't really sure himself. There were hundreds of

reasons he despised the current system, with vigilante 'heroes' riding roughshod over

whomever they disagreed with and a kangaroo justice system that required strict evidence,

except where 'heroes' were concerned. In that case, criminals received harsh sentences with

only a sarcastic note pinned to them. Most never met or had the opportunity to crossexamine

their 'captors'.

But even that was because of research he'd done after deciding to become a super villain.

Heck, he was even the one instrumental in setting up the DeVry institute, even though he


did his best to ensure that most of the staff remained unaware of that fact.

Bob had never met his grandfather, and his father had never spoken of him. The family

simply kept the old truck out in the garage, their silent recognition that the man even

existed. Bob had begun tinkering on the truck when he turned 18 and had pretty much

inherited it solely because no one else wanted it or could stand getting rid of it. Still, for all

the discomfort everyone else in his family may have had toward the truck, Bob loved it, and

he always seemed to get his best ideas after spending some time in it.

"I'm not really sure. I guess I probably just need to think things over. If you don't mind, I'm

going to go out to the garage for a while."

"No. But if your going to start playing with that damn rolling deathtrap of yours, can you

make sure you wash your hands before you come back in the house?"

"Not a problem. I was just going to try seeing if I could get the radio working again

anyway." He gave Avey a kiss and headed toward the garage, figuring a good bit of

tinkering might be just the distraction he'd be looking for.

Fred? The demon's name is 'Fred'?

What got Becky Sue's attention, and

will Chris go rogue?

Why the heck isn't there

any artwork for Lovis?

Tune in next time for:

Evil Herbs


Devil of a Thyme


Chapter 49

Devil of a Thyme

Design is more than simply splashing around paint, it's finding those special highlights and

features you can really work with. Fred drifted through the streets of Boise surveying his

new canvas. He loved he grid of streets forced upon the rolling hills. He giggled at the futile

attempt to bring order to the beautiful chaos. He enjoyed that.

But it still needed... something... The screaming pedestrians were a nice start though...

As was the big pit filled with... oooh! That was it. That was the bit of inspiration he was

looking for. Fred did a lazy pirouette in mid air as the glee slowly spread through the dusty

corners of his creative psyche. He placed a taloned hand to his chin and thought for a few

seconds, then with a casual wave of his other hand it began.

There wasn't much at first, simply a low gurgling noise. If one had not been distracted by

the vision of hell floating above the restoration site, one possibly may have noticed the tiny

bubbles percolating to through the ground as the water table began to rise. Eventually these

gave way to gentle spurts of gray mud. Then not so gentle spurts.

Within minutes torrents of thick grey clay rose, smoothing into a round, level area. Fred

danced and wove along the edge, running his hands through the thick goo. Next to the pool

the earth split yet again and steam vented forth. Even in the setting sun, the steady red glow

of magma grew stronger as it crept to the surface. Yet more terrified shrieks filled the air as

the residents panicked, but the magma stayed just below the round clay pit. Within minutes

the edges of the pool turned a shade of white

Zrng's newly implanted voice translator was getting a very thorough workout.

Unfortunately, the greater bulk of the phrases it was attempting to translate were far beyond

it's normal vocabulary. It made a valiant attempt, none the less.

"Ornaments of animals that have both sexual and sacred significance." The translator

squawked as the short green alien scrambled from behind a wall disintergrating from a

blast. Right behind Zrng was the Badger, his nails slicing through the steel trash container

Zrng had tried to roll at him. "Ultimate displays of affection toward one's maternal unit"

Zrng had dove around a corner when an arm snagged around his and pulled him into a

doorway. Confused, Zrng looked in terror toward where Roger was pointing, "In there, and

breath through your mouth" Roger commanded.

Zrng although not quite in full panic, realized that this option was probably better than the

one he may have thought of in the next few seconds, so he scrambled toward the door.

Roger looked down and winked at something before he too raced through the dark



Seconds later the Badger's nails carved through the door. He kicked it in and sniffed the air,

looking for Zrng's trail. Instead he found the air was heavy with freshly sprayed musk from

the skunk that scampered over the door shards.

Zrng's audio translators had no problem deciphering the invectives that the Badger was now

hollering. He still had no interest in sticking around to appreciate them. The alien pushed

through a door and emerged into a parking garage.

"The others should be here any minute." Roger said as he ran in behind Zrng.

"Others?" Zrng said nervously.

"Becky Sue and Karl." Roger said in a reassuring manner. "Do you know why they're after


"Why? Spiritual Representative! I don't even know who they are!"

"According to JB, they're a group called the Y-Guys. They're a group of rogues, but I don't

know what you did to get their attention."

"ME!? Nothing!" Zrng said earnestly.

Karl skidded to a stop beside the two, followed by a significantly more out of breath Becky

Sue. Karl continued the conversation while Becky Sue caught her breath. "Well it's not like

we know what you've been up to."

Zrng looked confused for a few seconds… "How.. did all of you know I was being.."

Roger spoke first, looking a bit sheepish, "I was worried about you so I've been following

you to make sure you stayed safe. When the Y-Guys appeared, JB told Karl and Becky Sue

that you needed help."

"It's.. like… havin'.. a.. marconi.. in.. yer.. head.." Becky Sue finally gasped out. "You

know.. Karl.. a lady.. could use.. a lift.. from time t' time."

The garage door exploded from one of Biclop's blasts. The Badger and Mentra took their

positions. "Citizens!&quote; Mentra commanded, &quote;Be aware that individual is not a

human being, and is in fact..", she paused for dramatic effect, "an alien."

"And?" Becky Sue replied snidely. It wasn't the reaction that Mentra had hoped for, but she

tried not to show it.

Mentra continued, "he is in possession of a device that cannot be allowed to fall into the

wrong hands."


"Ah, so we should just let have him hand it over to a bunch of weirdos with bad fashion

sense and little respect for doors?"

The Badger growled, "Enough talking." He leapt toward Zrng. He stopped in mid arc as as

Karl's hand grabbed hold of his belt. The Badger sliced his fingers toward Karl in a deadly

swipe. Karl's reflexes easily dodged the swipe. The Badger growled angrily. Karl scowled

and looked toward the shredded remains of his suit jacket.

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a jacket that fits?" Karl's calm voice belied his

growing annoyance. Moment's later, the Badger's newly unconscious body slid from the

Badger shaped crater in the garage wall. Apparently, Karl had a rather difficult time finding

a jacket.

"Get Zrng out of here!" Becky Sue found herself yelling. Startled, she turned and tried to

move Zrng, but her muscles wouldn't respond. She watched as her arms and legs suddenly

jerked to life and grabbed Zrng. She heard JB, 'You're being blocked by Mentra. I'll take-'

and suddenly she was in control again. She took a few more steps before jerking and JB

once again taking control.

Roger watched Becky's unusual gait and spotted Mentra's obvious struggle with something

she couldn't quite understand.

Fred hovered for a moment inspecting his work. Getting the silver vein was difficult, but

oddly getting the crystal was surprisingly easy. Granted he had no idea where he could get

several thousand square yards of linen. But there it was, a full twelve-piece place setting of

truly gargantuan size. Now, for the butter dish.

The crowd gathering around wasn't quite sure what to make of the affair. Some were

horrified by the vision of a leathery beast of nightmares bending the forces of nature to his

whim, the other half were taking notes to see if they could get that pattern. Well, change the

pattern of agonized souls that ringed the dish to fruit or something.. but it was very inspired.

There was one figure that continued to stare at Fred, calculating his move. He took a heavy

breath, rummaged through his coat and pulled out a ball of light beige..

He paused as Zrng ran by at full throttle, followed by Roger. He looked toward the hovering

demon, then back toward the retreating figures then toward where they came from.

"YOU!!" The Badger yelled as his nails grew several inches longer.

Fred's jaw hung open, his body quivering as he struggled to find words. In the countless

millennia he had existed, never before had this happened. Never had anything, anyone ever

done something so.. so unspeakable.


He simply stared down to the large, imperfect splotch of gray that completely ruined his

flawless china dish. The one he had worked so hard at, now some puny, insignificant,

mortal being dared tarnish his pristine art?

Fred's eyes flashed to white as the muscles along his back rippled and tensed. Unholy curses

from a thousand dead languages fought for dominance.

Chris tried to gain his footing among the cracking fissures of the still hardening porcelain,

grateful that he had somehow managed to evade The Badger's talons. He hadn't counted on

the thin shell to be quite so thin, nor as he discovered the clay inside to be quite as warm.

Chris danced trying to find parts that weren't sinking into the steaming mass.

He heard the inhuman bellow moments before he felt the crushing blow from Fred's

enraged fist.

With a heavy clang, Chris ricocheted off of the building just inches away from Karl. Karl

turned to see the enraged demon flare out its wings and alter its course to follow Chris. Karl

built up speed and in a feat worthy of Jackie Chan, bounced himself upwards between two

buildings and directly into the path of the rebounding Grayhound.

"Chris, are you ok?" Karl/JB asked.

Chris moaned, blinked and replied "Red.. FlexFrame, I think... Headed South... Really mad


Karl landed on a roof and leapt again, "He's outclassed, JB. I need to take on that thing.

Grayhound, you'll need to help get Zrng away from the Y Guys."

Chris snapped back to himself.. albeit painfully.. when he heard that. "Go, take on the bus..

err.. demon, I can take care of the Y-Guys."

Karl raised an eyebrow, "Are you sure?"

"I beat them once." Chris stated flatly then jogged to the roof's edge. He spotted the running

figures dressed in matching black pleather and fired off his guy-line. Karl turned to face the

enraged creature from Hell.

Hours later, Karl slumped hard into a chair. His hardened armor like skin was bruised, his

previously perfectly coiffed hair was decidedly less so. And his jacket was now nothing

more than a very expensive, highly tailored bracelet that fell off his wrist when he tried to

examine it. He let his head slump back against the cushion and closed his eyes.

Roger walked over meekly. "Can.. Can I get you anything, uhm, Karl?"


Karl kept his eyes closed. "You could have saved me a lot of effort, you know."

"A nice cold compress maybe? Actually, I think I might be able to rustle up some camphor

and menthol, that ought to help with some of the pain.."

"Three hours. Three hours throwing buildings, cars and everything else at each other, and

then you walk up."

"I'm guessing you probably could use a nice snack too. I'll see if I can find something.."

Karl mimed Roger's actions as he held aloft a hand, slapped the air above him and, in a fair

duplication of Roger's voice, he impertinently said, "Meanie!"

"Well, I mean he was. I know that he probably worked hard on that whole thing but there

was no reason to go off like a rutting wolverine."

Karl cracked an eye and stared at Roger. Roger simply fell silent, and nervously smiled


Karl closed his eye again, "I've got to remember that next time. It might just come in


There was no need to ask where Zrng was or if he was safe. JB relayed that Becky Sue and

he had managed to evade the Y Guys and were headed back to the loft in short order.

"The Y Guys." Karl though aloud, "looks like Chris managed to keep them distracted." He

raised his head as the thought occurred to him. "Say, where is Chris anyway?"

Chris staggered and limped down the street. He was certain that he not only hurt in new

locations but in several different continents. Chris now understood what the Woman from

the Department of Superheroes meant about rogues. They fight beyond dirty.

Chris knew the value of fighting dirty, and had frequently practiced it himself. He had been

trained by life not to hold back, to make sure that your opponent is not only no longer a

threat, but no longer even considering any future actions against you.

This time, he had been on the receiving end of that treatment. It wasn't pretty.

In addition, nothing seemed to work out for him. It was as if his lucky streak had ended. He

had run out of gadgets and gizmos to save his bacon. He barely managed to dodge the more

fatal blasts and blows. He had, quite literally, been outclassed and out maneuvered at every


He had no idea how he managed to finally escape, but somehow, some faint remnant of his

good fortune managed to linger long enough to provide him a way out of the mess he was



He pulled his keys out and unlocked the door.

"Uhm Excuse me!" a polite, yet very annoyed voice beckoned his attention. Chris let his

head thud against the door, then turned to look at the source of the interjection.

There, looking far worse for the several weeks of wear, stood the Pitfall Perpetrator. The

stiffness having long since abandoned the twin lightning-bolts that he wore on his helmet.

"I'll have you know, I've been waiting out here politely for nearly a month now", The Perp

stated in a voice that quivered with rage, "An entire month! You said that you had a few

things to take care of and you'd be back down so we could do battle."

Chris blinked slowly at the Perp, his tired mind barely able to follow the discussion.

"Well, now I think I've waited quite long enough, so I 'm calling you out."

Chris moaned. "Look, I'm sorry, I've just been really busy. Let me go get a quick show--


Literally, out of nowhere, Chris stood facing three alligators who's mouths crunched down

in vicious synchronicity.

"Face My Evil Wrath!" The Perp cried out. Chris continued to stare at the cackling villain

and the mechanical creatures he controlled.

"Look, I'm sorry, but I'm really tired. Can't we do this some other time?" Chris stated flatly,

oblivious to the menace that he now faced.

The Pitfall Perpetrator stopped laughing. "What? No! My creatures are unstoppable!" he

shouted angrily.

Chris sighed with the weight of a day gone horribly wrong, knowing full well that having

alligators on the sidewalk, mechanical or not, would probably be a violation of the city

safety regulations, and that somehow he'd be responsible for them. He watched the beasts

mouths snap shut then quickly hopped across the backs of all three.

The Perp was crestfallen as the creatures blipped out of existence.

Chris suddenly felt a wave of empathy and walked over to the stunned villain. "Look, I'm

sorry, but I used to play Pitfall all the time. Heh, if I was feeling better, I'd have probably

gone over them from the other side since you can pick up more stuff that way. Oh, now,

don't cry. Look, you've got a good theme going. You just need some work. Tell you what, I

don't normally do this, but can I offer you a suggestion? Have you thought about joining the

DeVry School of Evil Genius? I understand they've got a pretty good program and I think