Amature log, they are not professionals

It was late in the morning as Keltic Tommy sat at the remote console of CYCLONE O.N.E. monitoring the events of the world. Windows with CNN, the BBC, NBC, NPR and a host of other acronyms filled the monitor with a bombardment of information. His trained eyes and ears slid from topic to topic, looking for a shred that might be missed by the untrained, but of great value to the Rangers. More often than not he settled on “The Outdoor Channel”, but this was both excepted and accepted on his watch.

The velvet blackness of the misty night was speared by a faint sound. At first it could have been mistaken for a frog or perhaps the final remnants of the Evil Cicada invasion, but to Keltic Tommy’s ears it was one thing and one thing only- unnatural. The sound slowly grew louder and louder until it echoed in the rooms of the Secret Base, rattling the collections of china, rare artifacts and unusual PEZ dispensers from their displays. Then just as suddenly it began to fade away, only to return like a swooping bird with a bad case of late afternoon chili contest revenge. Once, twice, three times, repeating the pattern over and over again.

After a few moments, another sound could be heard, like the waking of some hibernating bear, a sound all the Rangers had learned to fear- Reverend Bryian had been woken up from his death like sleep. The sound of some weird language came bouncing down the walls like a mix of guttural Esperanto mixed with the occasional crystal clear curse and tinged by a grumble, began to grow louder. Doors and cabinets began to join the symphony of emotion, adding in their staccato snap of slamming doors and straining doorknobs.

Tommy looked up from the console to see the wild haired, purple robbed figure exiting the front door, minus his usual coffee cup but with a new addition: a black powder rifle. The first explosion cracked off like a bolt of lightning, it’s thunder being a second explosion so shortly after Keltic Tommy knew in a flash the source of the sound, a black powder rifle with a heavy charge. Before the sound could fully die away the buzzing above suddenly added in a new sputter, then began to fade off into the distance, the engine now with an obvious strain to keep the craft aloft. He rose from the chair slowly as the acrid smell of the powder began to waft in through the open door, his senses telling him it was some of the Reverend’s own recipe. The standard mix of parts but with a few, as he put it, “vitamins and nutriments” added for a little extra oomph. Last time Tommy tried to test it, the shot from his gun left the poor defenseless paper target in flames, an odd greenish death dance for the recycled tree.

As he entered the doorway of the surveillance room he met up with the Reverend, his hair looking more like his head was aflame as his hair seemed to go in all directions at once, small bits following the air currents around him. With an almost possessed glare the Reverend finally uttered a single word, sharp as a razor, “What?”

What the hell was that all about?” Keltic Tommy spoke as he slowly and carefully reached for the gun. The Reverend’s reply, though short would have made about as much sense as trying to get two Ashanti tribesmen to play scrabble, with Korean tiles and a French to Italian dictionary. “April First…” He muttered as he continued back down the hallway to his bed, again to slam the door.

As the echo finally started to die, The Fish and Tomcat appeared from the Bunkhouse. This was not truly a separate building, but another room where everyone crashed when they stayed at the House between actions. Looking like a pair of rejects from a Rambo movie they jumped through the door weapons drawn, decorated with bandoleers of ammo and Tomcat with his stick. A howl like a banshee that had just been goosed trumpeted their arrival.

Um, guys, chill…it’s cool” Keltic Tommy spoke in his usually smooth tone, one that could charm a Kodiak from a tub of chocolate ice cream in the middle of summer. Within a second Tomcat began hopping up and down, clutching one foot. “That wasn’t a battle cry! I hit my foot.” And so Tomcat began the ritual “Dance of Pain”, one he; like most of the Ranger’s, were all too familiar with. In his usual fashion, with a flourish The Fish returned his sword to his scabbard, and commenced to clap in time to Tomcat’s dance, his only method of helping. “What the duce was that all about?” Tomcat asked as the pain began to subside, The Fish’s clapping now draining to a simple round of applause.

Keltic Tommy shrugged and turned as he started back into the computer room, gun in hand said, “April First.” Tomcat looked to The Fish and said “What?” In his usual style of pre-knowing the script of the universe mixed with a liberal dose of head injures, The Fish nodded sagely as he headed back to his bunk “April first...” knowing full well he had no idea what so ever what they were talking about.

Great..another one.” Tomcat commented as he drew the door to the bunkhouse shut behind him, feeling an explanation would be forthcoming soon. Perhaps in the morning after Bryian had had his first pot or two of coffee and could speak to carbon based life again.

 

The Explanation: No really

Morning. Very few things are as scary to a Ranger as morning. The combination of an overload of blood in their caffeine systems, bad hair, and complete loss of tact makes for a very rough time. Slowly the motley crew made their way to the briefing room. In truth it was the room where they planned, ate, and generally screwed off. Sometimes called the war room or just ‘Down Stairs’, it was the center of ranger movements. Some of the things discussed in this room would scare the KGB and the CIA to no end, if either of them actually cared what they were up to.

Something, or more precisely someone, was missing from the round table. The Reverend failed to show, even after his usual time of lateness and “Ranger Time Correction” had been accounted for. Keltic Tommy broke the silence first “Anyone seen him this morning?” The Fish just shook his head, still not fully awake. Tomcat, his hair sickeningly pristine with his notepad in hand answered next “Nope…not yet, although I did hear something early this morning after we all went to back to bed, somewhere around 6 or so. ”Tommy shook his head “No, couldn’t be him, he /never/ gets up that early.”

The Fish slowly slipped away from the table and headed to the kitchen, scanning it as his eyes began to focus. Using a mix of oriental mysticism, non-genre specific mind powers and simple screen writing techniques the room of inanimate objects was no match for him, even this early.

There was the first clue, a hot, but almost empty coffee pot, complete with fresh stains on the counter. The still damp stirring spoon, the filter and grounds from the first pot ready to go the compost heap. And then the clinchers, a note that simply read in somewhat hard to read scrawl “In the Shop - B”. “He’s gone to ground!” the Fish yelled back to the other room. Such an obfuscated comment drew the other two Rangers like a magnet. They entered the room, slowly peering around the corner first to see if it was safe to enter. “Is he here and should we be afraid?” Tomcat asked slowly. “Yes and no..take your pick.” The Fish answered as he moved to the shop door, slowly pushing it open.

Slowly he looked back to Keltic Tommy “Very dangerous…you go first Indy.” The Fish added.

The door creaked open into the darkened room like something to be found in an ancient temple, cobwebs and all. On the other side of the little room, just past the combination milling machine and washer was a green door that lead to the shop. Sounds of power tools, smoke, and an acrid smell seemed to crawl out from under the door like some type of ominous warning. On the door was the last warning they wanted to see. There hung a simple sign that could evoke pure terror into the hearts of any Ranger or anyone with a thimble full of common sense. It simply read: Inventing.

The somewhat fearful silence was broken by a yell from behind the closed door “AH-HA!” The waiting Rangers braced themselves, fearing a shock wave, glowing green fog or other bizarre happenings. The door flew open and The Reverend exited , cupping something in one hand, his coffee cup tightly held in the other. As he emerged, an awkward moment of silence passed as all eyes met. This time The Fish broke the moment “Doctor? Doctor.. Doctor… Doctor!” as he looked from one member to the other. While seemingly out of context, such comments helped make the day go a little easier if not a bit odder.

Um…Hi!” A huge grin came across the Reverend’s face as he looked at the other Rangers. They were stunned, locked in place unable to move. “Cheerful, awake, and speaking English all before noon? Someone slipped a pod into the base somehow.” Tomcat commented.

Twist off Tom...I just had a breakthrough ” The Reverend said as he began to advance towards the kitchen. “I knew the therapy would help…just no group hugs, okay?” The Fish piped in as he stepped aside. Keltic Tommy had yet to comment, reserving words and judgment till he could find out more about the discovery. Slowly the group began to filter back through the kitchen, through the downstairs and to the shielded room that held Cyclone O.N.E.

To the marching band was added a new sound, a tapping of toenails on hardwood. His Royal Highness, Tiny, deposed Emperor of Finland joined the group. The affirmed leader of the group, this small yellow dog was a direct descendant of the last emperor of Finland. Such is the strangeness of the world at times. All assembled as the Reverend began typing on the keyboard “I’m taking Cyclone O.N.E. down for maintenance…should only be a few minutes at most...get the Rough Riders on the Tesla and let them know Tom…”

Um..right..” Tomcat left the room and returned to the still quiet group. By this time the system was offline and the side opened up, allowing access to the insides. “Rough Riders are on standby...Adack station has sat-net control again and the Krozokov 2 has taken over comm routing…We’re cool…they are playing Doom 3…”

Excellent…” The Reverend commented as he began to lean into the case.

Did you understand any of what they said? The Fish asked Keltic Tommy. “Yea...They are playing Doom. Other than that I didn’t hear alien, bomb, asteroid or Menuedo concert so I’m not worried. Too much.” Keltic Tommy replied as he turned back to the Reverend “Alright, I have to ask...what are you doing??”

Slowly the Reverend leaned back to reveal a small add-in board he had placed in the computer. Mounted dead center was a computer chip about the size of a matchbook, with wires running to and fro. On it’s face could be plainly seen something one would not expect to find in a computer, a hunk of lime green polyester fur, ominously glowing and pulsing. “This, my most excellent friends, is something not even NASA could build. We have it, they will want it, but we won’t give it to them because it’s ours. See??”

 

Green glowing fuzz?” Tomcat asked “Oh, I can see the value in that. Millions of research hours, tons of cash, huge amounts of staff time and you out of all that have come up with green fuzz. Wonderful, let me call my broker.” Tomcat pulled his cell phone from his pocket and held it to his ear, just to be obnoxious “Hello, Nigel? It’s Tom…yes, I want to invest my entire portfolio in green fuzz..Yes, sell it all..” He clips the phone shut as he shoves it into his pocket “NOT!”

 

Stunned, The Fish and Keltic Tommy seem to wait, or at least not say anything to egg it on any further. “Oh…I see…Well, check this out…” The Reverend flipped the power switch and a small puff of greenish smoke came from the fuzz. The machine started the cooling fans that sucked it away as fast as it appeared. Then just as suddenly the system shut back down.

 

Ooooo...exploding green fuzz. Even better.” Tomcat added. As his words began to slowly die away, the system came back to life again, without any intervention. The small bit of green began to pulse as the lights in the room began to dim. With a satisfied smile the Reverend put the side of the computer case back and began to stand up, turning to explain what happened.

Tiny, sensing with his superior intellect that all attention was focused not on him as it should have been, but on the box, walked over to it, giving it a sniff. A fraction of a second later his inspection was summed up in a single act: a sneeze. “Now, think for a second.” The Reverend motioned for a moment to the group “The 70’s. Why? Who came up with disco, The Bay City Rollers, big hair, see through pants..” The Fish piped in “My personal favorite…” as he grinned to the other Rangers.

 

Think about it. Huge cars in a gas crunch. Clothes based on petroleum products, hair oils, and plastic everything everywhere. Well, after last night I came up with something. Who benefited most from the 70’s? OPEC did. Now what made us different than them? Simple…Green shag. So, after thinking about it I felt there had to be a link between the ideas and actions of the 70’s and green shag. And there is. It’s fuzzy logic.” Slowly the Reverend motioned back to the computer “So I searched through all my books on 70’s computers and their programming as well as how you make most of those things and came up with this. A petroleum based cylindrical storage system with a built in random factorization for use with a trinary code base to simulate a choice system. See?”

 

The glaze over the Rangers eyes was thicker than on cheap-imported pottery. After a few moments it broke and Keltic Tommy asked, “So, you built a polyester logic chip?” “Yes!” The Revered grinned as his backwoods friend grasped the concept. “Um, just one thing “ The Fish added “Did /you/ think about the 70’s?” Slowly the Reverend nodded, not commenting, but something in his eyes said there was more to it than met simple observation. “And what about April First?” Tomcat added. Again, slowly the Reverend nodded, “Exactly…Artie. April First..it all makes sense when you consider it..”

 

Keltic Tommy halted the conversation “Alright, your making about as much sense as tax code. Give.”

 

The problem started back in the 70’s, when I was in grade school..” The Reverend began. Tomcat, Keltic Tommy and The Fish joined Tiny on the floor, the small dog moving in front of The Fish as he knew this would lead him to long periods of mindless petting. “Artie Guthrie, I kid you not; that was his name, was in the same grade as I was at the time and the playground bully.” Keltic Tommy leaned slowly over to Tomcat and quietly commented “Should this have started ‘No shit, there I was? “

 

The Reverend was now almost oblivious as the frustration started to come to the surface. “See, they tried this idea of mixing our fluoride wash with vitamins, well something happened and our group got a bad batch. Most of the kids had no effect from it other than a blue tongue for a few days but Artie and I reacted more violently. Must be something to do with body chemistry I guess. So anyway...that’s how it all started.” The Fish snapped out of the zombie listening/petting routine for a moment “How what started? The Green fuzz?”

No, Artie. See, I started to develop a more nonlinear style of thinking and he...well, he became obsessive. He felt cheated and blamed me for it. I have no idea why, but I became the target of his anger. So ever since then, all the time, he has tried to one up me on everything. I mean it is pitiful. It would be different if he actually did something. More often than not he just does something silly like steal my notes and then build one of whatever I am working on and paint it differently. He calls it an improvement. Well, the founding of the Rangers pushed him over the edge. That man has a bad case of the evils now. Worst part of it is, well, I know this sounds unkind, but…” The Reverend sighed “He sucks at it. I’ve seen rodents with better potential to be an evil genius...kind of sad really. So, Artie came up with his evil identity, Really Bad Guy. Can you guys get the picture??”

The Reverend paused for a moment to let the group think as Tomcat added one of his deeply insightful and sensitive comments “He’s a nut bag, right?” Nodding repeatedly, the Reverend answered “ Yes...And my arch nemesis. I would have thought I could have done better…” The group sat is silence for a moment, some nodding, others eyes downcast as they considered the words. The silence was broken by the rude interjection of an explosion outside the house, followed by a vile smell. The Reverend looked towards the wall between them and the sound and muttered one audible word: “…Artie…”

 

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere at a secluded airstrip…

 

Slowly a sputtering ramshackle airplane started diving towards the ground, trailing a thin band of black oil smoke from the side of the engine. As it neared the ground the nose suddenly jerked upwards like a French gourmet being handed an American hamburger with everything on it, truck stop style. The tires barked once on the pavement as it bounced skyward again, then dived back to ground, rolling towards a rusting hanger. Outside the hanger door was standing a tall man in a black trench coat, with a flat brimmed hat from the old west, purple glasses covered eyes watching the flying wreck come to a halt outside the door, the engine giving a final belch of smoke and oil before it passed into the great beyond. The dark figure spoke with a western twang as the red clothed figure threw his helmet to the ground “He got you again, didn’t he Hoss?”

 

Shut up...just shut up you reject from an episode of.... of...some old western.” spoke the figure as he climbed out of the cockpit, dropping to the ground “Just don’t start…I am in no mood for you right now…” He walked over and kicked a tire of the single engine biplane lawn ornament. “Right through the engine block...ruined, completely!” Slowly he turned back to the figure “Missionary Man, go get The Saints and Apostles, Nitchie Ipples, Doctor Question Mark, Mrs. Snit…get everyone...I don’t care how much of a petty criminal they are I want them here in an hour. And tell them to come armed for bear…or better yet, Cyclone Rangers. This time, it’s gonna end.”

 

The dark figure sighed slightly “That is what you said the last 7 or 8 times. Look why not just let them be. You ain’t won and I bet you can’t against them. Sometimes you have to just let them alone. The good book says in chapter...” Before he could finish the beginning of his sermon the man in red cut him off wagging a finger most sternly in his face. “Stop, right there. I am in no mood for your twisted professing right now. I have to win, at least once. Now go do what I told you and make it quick. Go circle the wagons or whatever you call it.”

 

The figure in black took a single finger and tilted his hat back “Look Artie...” Again the red figure cut him off “Never, EVER call me that!” His voice started to become a yell as his finger began to wag even more violently “Really Bad Guy...that is my name...Got it? REALLY BAD GUY!” The man in black slowly let his finger pass the brim of his hat and hook to pull it back down. “What ever you say…” He slowly turned saying softly to himself “…Artie…” He headed off into the hanger, not bothering to close the door.

 

Really Bad Guy turned and headed over to a small folding camper trailer badly in need of repair, or the kindness of arson, throwing the door open, only to have the violence of the opening returned to him in the form of the door slamming shut again before he could catch it. He reached for the knob a second time which half way through opening, the doorknob promptly came off in his hand as he entered. Throwing it to the floor inside he entered and let the door shut behind him. Quietly, the door smirked to itself in a silently in an indignant manner “...Artie...”

 

Inside the trailer looked like it had either had a grenade blow up or had been robbed by a gang of over zealous endorphin crazed chimpanzees. Neither was the case. In fact the occupant, Artie, was a true and utter slob of the highest degree. He had almost raised it to an art form unto itself. Strewn about the canvas walled room were clothes, experiments, papers, books, compact disk cases, and pizza boxes on their way to being an archaeological dig in a few weeks. Throwing the contents of the breakfast nook seat to the floor he slid in and tried to compose himself. This only resulted in a small tantrum where he beat his fists rapidly against the pasteboard table till they began to hurt, a grand total of 3 impacts.

 

From outside the trailer, a loud explosion shook the windows. Shifting enough to grab the broken broom, Really Bad Guy shifted the curtain flap aside to view the now flaming wreck of his once proud aircraft, “The Red Flying Death Machine From Another Place”. Mixed in with the black smoke from the now fully engulfed wreck were occasional tinges of greenish smoke adding a nice counterpoint to the festive fire red and deep oil smoke black.

 

Back at the house…

 

The scent of constructed evil began to slowly waft indoors. Quickly as the scent entered Tomcat barked out to the group “Gas Attack!!” and bolted for the locker nearby, throwing it open and tossing masks to the aforementioned Rangers. Keltic Tommy, with the grace of a wolf on the hunt, grabbed Tiny with one hand and the mask with the other and crossed the room in two steps, placing him in a special Plexiglas airtight box that the Reverend had mounted several gas mask filters on to protect the small monarch just in case of something like this. The Fish, with the practiced hand he developed in Tibet, produced a fist full of incense and lit it quickly from a small, silvered lighter. Lighting them with a flourish, he snuffed them out as quickly with a flick of his wrist. The smell of herbs and rare ingredients went to work trying to destroy the scent. Bryian just rubbed his eyes “Guys…it’s a stink bomb. The little schmuck is at it again!” Walking to the window, Bryian flicked on the fan, forcing the scent back into the outside. “Smells like cheap import smoke bombs.”

 

Peering through the curtains, The Fish spotted the device “There it is…and it is made from cheap imported smoke bombs and it looks like tennis ball cans.” Tomcat nodded “Bet it was on a timer; a 12 hour timer none the less.” Bryian nodded “Give him plenty of time to get clear. An excessive amount of time for sure.”

The room began to settle back down and the masks were put away one by one. Slowly the smell began to subside and The Fish’s incense gave it all a miss with a strange smell. Keltic Tommy pulled Tiny from the box and looked over to the assembled group. “Um, is this normal for him? I don’t remember this happening last year.” The Reverend nodded “It is, last year he ordered 25 pizzas and had them sent here. Remember the pizza party after the big meeting with the Rough Riders? Well, where did all the pizza come from?” Various shrugs passed through the group till Tomcat spoke “I thought you ordered them.” Again the Reverend nodded “I did…but the schmuck called back and ordered them again. Only, get this, he paid for them. They wouldn’t take the order for 25 without a credit card. They called here to confirm we wanted 50 pizzas. I told them we only wanted 25 so they canceled my first order. So, Artie bought pizza for all the Rough Riders.” Bryian smirked “Pissed him off for months.” Keltic Tommy just shook his head and smiled. With his usual hand gesture, not unlike serving a comment to the listener he added “You know… he /IS/ an idiot!”

 

Best get everything back online guys. Fish, get loaded for a location shoot and grab the CPD’s. Tomcat…never mind, you’re always ready. Tommy, let’s open the weapons locker and set the Rough Riders to standby. I have a bad feeling about all of this.” Bryian added. Everyone nodded in turn with Keltic Tommy adding a question “Strike Teams?” The Reverend paused for a moment then answered “Get Mary and The Boys on standby, call Red Judi, Heather and Jackie. We are going to need backup. I want the Desert Rats ready to roll and call Lt. Daniel, tell him to have the 13-FoxTrot’s standing by with a helicopter. We are going to need eyes in the field.”

The Fish turned to Tomcat, being serious for once “He’s not kidding around this time.” Walking to a small wall mounted box Bryian placed his hand on it speaking softly to a small microphone. A small red line passed down the panel, followed by a small beep. An electronic voice spoke into the room “System Activated…Awaiting Pass code.” The Reverend leaned close into the microphone and spoke softly “This is the time and this is the record of the time…” The electronic voice responded, “Pass code accepted. Awaiting second pass code phrase and confirmation. Bryian spoke again “Let X equal X”. He stepped away from the panel and looked at Keltic Tommy “Go for it, bud.” Keltic Tommy paused for a moment and spoke “You are serious aren’t you?” Slowly he stepped up to the panel and placed his hand on it. The electronic voice spoke again “Identity Keltic Tommy confirmed. Awaiting pass code.” Keltic Tommy spoke into the microphone on the wall “Teach a man to build a fire and he is warm for a day…” The electronic voice responded, “Pass code accepted. Awaiting second pass code phrase.” Taking a deep breath he spoke again “Set a man on fire and he is warm for the rest of his life.”

 

An alarm claxon sounded as the keypad to CYCLONE O.N.E. rolled back into the locking cabinet. A large locker opened in the downstairs allowing the Ranger access to the arsenal. A tone was broadcast thru the communication systems followed by the electronic voice “Multistate outward band 5…coded…calling all Rough Riders in the Tri-state area. This is not a drill. Move to standby level one. All other Rough Riders move to standby level 2. This is not a drill. “The voice began to repeat itself as the map on the wall began to light up as stations sent in a respond signal.

Bryian turned back to the group “Alright guys, time to cure this bad case of the evils Artie’s got.”

 

Elsewhere at a local 24-hour eatery,

 

Really Bad Guy turned to face the group of villains gathered at the large table, crammed into a single booth. “I have called you all here today because…”

Oh Oh me, its me I’z a muderer..” the large no-necked man in the football jersey pumped his hand up and down in the air.

Yes we know, thank you Frat-boy. We have all seen the pictures of you on spring break. Now, back to what I was saying…” Really Bad Guy continued, “We are here to plan our final strike against the Cyclone Rangers. Now all we need is to work out...”

Fries! Who gets the fries and gravy?” interrupted the waitress. “That would be me” a gentleman raised his hand while scratching furiously at his chest through his pinstriped vest, a gold tooth glinting out in his smile shaded by a pencil thin moustache.

Can we … Nitchie Ipples would you please give it a break?” Really Bad Guy vainly continued.

English muffin, one side buttered and a cup of earl grey tea, sugar lemon and cream?” the waitress continued “If the left side is buttered, it is mine.” replied Mrs. Snitt.

The waitress looked at the plate, rotated it half a turn and sat it down in front of the woman in the high collar dress “Here ya go dearie..” quickly followed by a cup of tea. She shuffled another plate down her arm “Steak and beans for the preacher man...” Missionary Man smiled slightly and nodded to the waitress “Thank you, ma’am”

If we could please continue?” added Really Bad Guy. “What we need is a plan that is so...so very evil that it shakes the very foundation of humanity.”

You could always take the world hostage with a stolen nuclear weapon. That is always a favorite.” Added the waitress as she sat a plate down in front of Really Bad Guy. “Here ya go, one kiddie-size country style breakfast…”

Frat-boy began to snicker as his plate of 4 steak burgers was set in front of him.

It is not kiddie-sized, I am just not that hungry!” bolted Really Bad Guy back “and besides what does a waitress know about being evil?”

A small smirk crossed the waitresses face as she spoke softly, walking away from the table “Stiff me for a tip and you’ll find out…”

Can we please get back to business here? Alright the nuke does have a certain nostalgia and a “I have you know Mr. Bond” type of feel to it, but as we all know those things seem to end very badly for those of us in the evil profession. Face it being evil is difficult enough nowadays without inviting problems.” Really Bad Guy continued as he dug into his plate.

You said it, I mean when was the last time you could hire henchmen who could actually hit something with a gun!” said Nitchie Ipples between bites.

Or when was da last time one of us gots to get a ransom and actually gets it into our bank accounts? My 401k an my stock portfolio are under performing due to a lack of primary fiscal capitalization…” added Frat-boy. Everyone at the table stopped eating, some mid-bite, and turned to look at Frat-boy as the somewhat un-beer tainted words fell from his mouth in an almost unique occurrence. Frat-boy smiled as cheese product sauce dripped from his chin “I got a D plus in economics class…” Really Bad Guy just shook his head as he continued “Anyway, enough of the pissing and moaning…”

Suddenly a yardstick lashed out from beside Mrs. Snitt, smacking Artie squarely on the knuckles with a sharp crack. “Language!” The crack was echoed by another curse, which was followed by another crack on the hand. Within a few moments of this cycle, Mrs. Snitt was pounding on Really Bad Guy with a vengeance smacking him about the head and shoulders. “Detention! Double detention! Saturday detention! Double Saturday detention! 500 lines! A Thousand lines! Hanging! Castration! Double castration!”

Really Bad Guy finally screamed out “Will someone get this psychotic schoolmarm off me?” With a fairly quick hand Missionary Man grabbed the yardstick from her hands with an almost soothing “Let us pray…” This seemed to calm her as she took her seat again and bowed her head. “Jesus…” Really Bad Guy started to comment until he came eye to eye with the end of the yardstick with the Missionary Man at the other end “Don’t you blaspheme boy…” Nothing more than a sigh escaped Really Bad Guy’s lips as he retook his seat.

After watching this display for a moment the waitress carefully stepped up to the table, only to utter one word “Coffee?”

Really Bad Guy turned to say something smart to her, getting as far as opening his mouth and raising a finger when suddenly his demeanor changed. His mouth closed an a big grin formed on his face “Why yes. Thank you ma’am...”

The lack of a covered garage

 

Claxons loudly screaming heralded the Rangers moving into action. From places around the world missiles came in to a ready state, NORAD went to DEFCON 3, ships began to execute avoidance maneuvers out at sea and the local coffee shop put on an extra pot of dark roast, kicking the turbochargers in to full speed on the espresso maker. Slowly the Armageddon clock ticked a second closer to midnight. At least this is what they would hope would happen. In reality or at least as close as they get, no one but the Rangers and the Rough Riders even cared. Mankind was blissfully unaware once again as it stared into the abyss of evil.

 

Fish! Fire up the CPD's” The Revered half barked at The Fish as he jumped in the back of Bryian's heavily modified Korean made SUV, for there is only one perfect automobile and that is made in Korea. Just ask them, or at least Master Chun. The co-pilot seat was taken over by Red Judi as she slung her modified laptop onto place on her lap, linking into the mobile network they were now setting up between the cars. “Comsat one, Telstar, the International Space Station and Google are all online...Why do we need a Space Station?” She asked calmly tapping on her earphone. The Fish leaned forward with an almost manic smile “Where else can you launch Thunderbird 6 from? I mean, Thunderbirds are go!” He leaned back without breaking his well trained scripted meter “CPDs one through four are now online. We have acquired the S.O.D. Horizon and the Timecoder is running...” He slid over to the middle of the rear seat, his head now squarely in the middle of the rear view mirrors view and the combat camera in his lap, his fingers deftly dancing among the unlabeled button and sliders. He put on his best Shakespearian accent “Mr. Winner...” His hand now thrust between the two seats “Engage....”

 

Now just a moment to explain something, The S.O.D. Horizon. This stands for the suspension of disbelief horizon, that point in relative space time that reality breaks down and unreality takes over. This is more commonly called the “Uh-uh” factor. Think of this as when you tell a small child something and they reply with “Uh-uh!”. You have just breached the S.O.D. Horizon. Those things that are almost unbelievable yet seem to work correctly straddle this division like people paying for bottled water or a President telling the full unedited truth. Using the CPD's (Convenient Plot Device) and a small local area wireless network several vehicles can be lined together. They can even be different types of vehicles as sometimes you can get somewhere as fast by car as you can by plane, especially if your flying through Atlanta. Compound this with airport security checks and it becomes quite believable that a road race between a commercial jet and a small SUV can be hard to call, especially when you make the trip over any distance. Once the CPD''s are linked they are controlled through a master system integrated into The Fishes modified combat camera. This has built in non-linear editing systems that allow him to change the CPD-nets relative location along a time line without the actual passage of real time resulting in realitive spacial non-linerear placement. Get it? Got It? Good. Its not really important but it does make for a nice diversion segue of the story.

 

So anyway

Both hands on the wheel...Use your blinkers...Full and complete stop!” came the voice of Mrs. Snitt from the back of the slightly rusty mini-van. Sun bleached blue with a hint of salt induced rustyness it smoked a little as it trundled down the street, its excessively powerful yet untested turbocharger crying under the buildup of hydrocarbons that seemed to cause it to wheese like an asthmatic at the perfume counter at some overpriced store. Really Bad Guy just clutched the wheel tighter till his knuckles started to turn white. To his right was The Missionary Man, his hat pulled down over his eyes slightly, seeming to mumble slightly to himself. “What is it now? Come on, you don't think the idea is worth it do you? You never trust me. “ Missionary Man tilted his head up slightly and adjusted his hat “No, I was just praying..Your driving shall we say inspires acts of faith and requests for redemption..” RBG growled “I drive very well, I am a trained expert!” Nichie Ipples chimed in between scratching “I don't think a correspondence driving school really qualifies...” “Shut up! Just shut up!” RBG barked “I went to a real driving school!” Nichie Ipples nodded “Yea, by court order...400 moving violations in one day will do that...” Glancing over his shoulder towards Nichie, RBG continued “Just give it a rest will ya..and have you ever considered a moisturizer..or hydroquarazone to stop that incessant itching??” Three things interjected themselves into the conversation, the word “Eyes!” the sound of a yardstick smacking someone in the earlobe and the word “Road!” Their source was all too obvious, Mrs. Snitt. Before the second smack could land a hand reached up from behind the last row of seats and snagged the yardstick from her hand “My therapists say dat you needs to deals wit you anger in a more constructive manner...” Frat boy pulled the yardstick down behind the seat where he was crouched, cuddling his mini-keg/teddy bear. “Oh, the 7 year freshman speaks!” Mrs Snitt shot back quickly. “We can see how well that has worked for you!” Frat Boys head barely poked over the top of the seat, his eyes just high enough to look over “It did, I puncheded his lights out and saved almost $1700 a year since he won't see me no more...”

 

The van slowed and turned into a driveway in front of what seemed to be a fairly innocuous building, a drive through Chinese take-out place in a kitschy cross design of late Han period construction and Hollywood misinterpretation. “Tai Ming's Chinese Take-out” was emblazoned across the front window in a blueish green neon with a dragon underneath in bright red. It would occasionally would loose the word out and parts of the dragon, so that it read “Tai Ming's Chinese Take” with a bright red cyclopean worm underneath. Slowly the van rolled up to the menu and the speaker box shaped like an abused takeout container, held together with some wire and electrical tape. A shriveled old sounding oriental voice came out through the partially rusted vent on the front “Yes? What you want?”

 

Really bad guy rolled his windows down “Yes, I'd like an order of scallion pancakes and one evil plan to go please...” He turned back into the van “You guys want anything?”

 

The plot thickens, with MSG

 

And then?” Came the old voice from the speaker.

No thank you” replied Mrs. Snitt, followed by the head shake of the Missionary Man, “I'm good” from Nichie Ipples and a hand raised from the extreme rear “Fortune Cookies....50 of them.” Frat Boy added.

RBG leaned back out to the speaker “And 50 fortune cookies...Separate checks please.” “Okay, separate checks, no problem, please pull around..” answered the voice.

The van slowly moved forward to the pickup window its arrival heralded by a backfire and could of black smoke. The sliding window was filled with the appearance of a Caucasian man trying very hard to look like a historical mandarin Chinese, with the long Fu Manchu mustache, pillbox hat and gaudy colored robes. “Scallion pancakes..” He handed the first bag through the window. “$2.95 please.” His hand extended with his long nails pointing towards RBG like finely manicured daggers, his pinky sheathed in some sort off silver armor. Nodding RBG handed over three dollars and took his change. “50 fortune cookies. Twenty five cents times fifty please...$12.50” He passed over a small stack of receipts, each for twenty five cents. Hands went backwards untill Nichie Ipples could reach back over the seat. A meaty hand produced a credit card “Do they take cards?”

Really Bad Guy sighed “Do you take credit cards?” The answer was short and abrupt “No! Cash only! No credit, no debit!” This seems to have raised the ire of the man in the window “Who do you think your dealing with? Children?” The big hand with the card disappeared and then held two bills up over the seat. Nichie grabbed then and passed then to RBG and he in turn to the man in the window. “Here, 15 bucks...” He paused for a moment as he was handed two quarters back in change. “Now for your evil plan..I will send a group of my crack assassins to deal with your problem, just make sure you have them out in the open when you are ready. I just have one question, are any of you wheat intolerant?”

 

Confusion now reigned supreme as everyone looked back and forth at each other shaking their heads “Um no..why?” The false-mandirin smiled an evil smile “You will see..” and with that he slammed the window shut. Really bad guy banged on the window until he opened it again “Hey! Where is the rest of our change?” Slowly another smile crossed his lips “Change comes from within...now go!” Again the window slammed shut and a shade was pulled down. Written on it in big ugly fake Chinese slash lettering was one word “CLOSED”

 

 

It was a dork and stormy night.

 

Like a cheap special effect from a science fiction movie the caravan blurred back into view with the black svu in the lead followed by the olive drab green square body mini-van, two motorcycles, a pizza delivery car, a vespa scooter with flames on the side and a very small yellow car. The motorcycles peeled off and the pair laid onto their throttles with a burst of blue flame from their tailpipes as they headed down the road their headlights cutting into the coming darkness like a chainsaw into butter. The SUV and the mini-van rolled onto the vaguely mowed grass airstrip, only to be passed at about 85 miles an hour by the screaming person on the en flamed vespa as they careened off towards a nearby parking lot. The pizza delivery car shot out and cut in front of the suv and began to lay down a thick layer of oil smoke, totally obscuring the rest of the cars. The little yellow car blinked in and out of reality several times and then was gone.

What the hell was that?” Red Judi pointed to the little yellow car as it blipped out of existence. “Oh, don't worry about it.” The Fish replied almost flippantly. “It was Jackie Chan.” Bryian turned around and stared at the Fish for a moment, “Ex-squeeze me?” The Fish smiles “I used this tape on a shoot with Jackie Chan. The little car with him in it is an artifact...a digital ghost.” Judi looked over at Bryian “I don't believe in ghosts...” The Reverend nodded “I know, but I do believe in Jackie Chan.”

 

The Rangers began to unload from their vehicle, weapons drawn. The Reverend watched over the field from the sights of his two black powder six-guns, The Fish extended the bayonet from his combat camera and shouldered it as he blurted out “ACTION!” Red Judi stepped out of the passenger side and hunkered slightly down behind the door, her vintage Czechoslovakian pistol covering the groups off-side, her free hand tightly gripping one of her homemade continuity grenades. The door slid back on the mini-van as Tomcat sprang from the red lighted ready deck inside. His staff held overhead in a perfect monkey king impression as he landed on the ground near the group. The sunroof opened and the arrival of Keltic Tommy was heralded by a long black barrel and action that locked into place as he punctuated the impression of the large gun by pulling back on the action letting it slam the first round home. The pizza delivery car roared past a second time laying down a thinner layer of smoke to go with the first and then dissapered into a blur once again. Finally, like McArthur landing again in the Phillipnese, Tiny emerged from the mini-van, surveying the area before he stepped down to join the Rangers at the front of the amassed group since he did not believe in leading from the rear. At his height the view was not as good and really did not change very often.

 

Red Judi chimed in “The 13-Foxtrots are deployed for support actions. SAC says they are on standby and monitoring...Mother says he is in route but the traffic is slowing up the motor home...” Lowering his sixgun, Bryian squinted slightly at the distance “Shapes in the tree line...looks like hostiles, could be Apache...” Keltic Tommy leaned slightly forward over the large gun on the mini-van “Not this far north, most likely Blackfoot...” The Fish nodded “Exactly...Mohawk..could be the last of them..”

 

Suddenly, from speakers hidden around the area Tocatta and Fuge in d minor began to blast the group, the wonderful meter of the music ruined with a menical laughter that was not so much fear inspiring but more nasal and annoying to the listener. “Gimme the microphone” thump, boom, screech “Oh great another entrance ruined....Greetings so called Cyclone Rangers, welcome to your doom!” The voice of Really bad guy's narration now being highlighted with a spotlight on him as he stood in the rusty hanger some distance away.

 

Softly, almost gently, Reverend Bryian''s voice interrupted “Take him down...”. The music was suddenly interrupted with the heavy stacco beat of the large anti-tank weapon on the mini-van blasting away, making the sound much like European dace music as bolts of what looked to be red light flew downrange into the hanger. Suddenly Really Bad Guy started running as the red lights began to chase him across the open hanger. He started yelling “KILL THEM! KILL THEM A LOT..*thwack* Super balls?” Suddenly a new beat had been added to the music, the sound of hundreds of high velocity super balls bouncing inside the metal hanger in all directions conceivable. There was to the discerning ear a few other sounds in the mix. One could hear the occasional ouch, or a curse under the loud dance beat. Really bad guy had almost reached the cover of the side of the hanger when there was the sound of some growling monster and a tounge of flame from the nearby parking lot. The rider of the vespa had circled around and produced some sort of rocket launcher, letting a round fly as he rolled past at speeds no scooter was ever designed for. The rocket flew erratically as it headed skyward, then with a sudden turn in headed strait down only to explode some 10 feet inside the roof of the hanger, splaying a greenish goo every where in fine strands. The super balls suddenly stopped as did Really Bad Guy, now netted in this green sticky mess.

 

A thumbs up was raised by the person on the vespa as they sped past the group still at their vehicles, the man-shape blurring into oblivion. “Who the hell was that?” asked Tomcat as he slowly stood up. Bryian just shook his head “I have absolutely no idea but apparently he's on our side...” As soon as the sound of the vespa had faded into that scene changing popping noise another voice from near the burnt out wreckage of RBG's plane came a voice the Rangers knew. Slowly the drawl let out its challenge “I'm calling you out Reverend, jest you and I...” Missionary man said as he stepped from the shadows. The Fish stepped forward “I'll take him...I have a score to settle.” The Fish set his camera down and stepped away from the group, pulling back his jacket to reveal a cross draw holster on his left side, “I'm your huckleberry...” The sounds of the night began to take over as the music faded from the soundtrack. A soft voiced Fish began to unnerve his opponent “Now don't tell me this is not what you expected...I was beginning to think you didn't like us anymore...and I know I could not live with that on my mind..” This fish's fingers tappled lightly on the butt of his holstered Schofield pistol. A smile crossed the Missionary Mans face as he began to circle slightly to one side “They should have put you and all of those B Roll losers down like dogs...only I say shooting is too good for you, you need to be clipped. How is you all say? Edited?” His coat now slid back to reveal a sixgun holstered on his leg “Now Brothers...let us pray.” Almost in a flash the two hands moved on the men, their respective comments now concluded with two distinct explosions one much deeper than the other. Motionless, almost if edited that way they stood as the smoke drifted from their respective guns. The Fishes pistol slowly returned to its holster as they stood there. The Missionary man slowly looked skyward his eyes rolling back in his head as a large bruise began to form over his left eye, a little off center. He dropped to his knees as the gun fell from his hand, landing on the ground nearby. Slowly he folded and lay on the ground, out cold. The fish suddenly broke the silence his finger stabbing at the direction of the Missionary Man “See! Your no daisy!!”

 

The moment of victory was broken as the door of the trailer was ripped off of its hinges and flung aside at the entrance of Frat Boy. Really Bad Guy strained for the microphone “And now on the field for the World Crime League... number 13...Frat Boy!” Bryian turned to the group “Aren't you glad they only attack one at a time...lets the rest of us rest a bit...” . Really Bad Guy growled slightly into the microphone “Let's get ready to rumble!!!”

 

The Act of Speaking too soon...

 

 

It is a well known fact that the universe attempts to make fun of those it destines to be heroes, and the Rangers are no exception. No sooner did the Reverends words float off into the eternal ether that suddenly was heard the screams of what seemed like one hundred or so Ninjas running from the woodlands strait at the group, being lead from the rear by Mrs. Snitt, her voice sending out commands like she was Alexander incarnate. “Attack! Wheel left...do not end your sentences with a dangling preposition!” Her orders punctuated by the pointing of her yardstick like it was the sword of some long ago samurai warrior. Red Judi moved from her shield behind the door and pulled the pin on the grenade in her hand, lofting the explosive skyward and downrange as she screamed out “Ninjas!” Her arms dropped to her side as she holstered her pistol “Did I just really say that?” The Reverend smiled and nodded “You did....” A sudden explosion ripped through the coming dimness followed by a ring of bluish white light that seemed to wash over the incoming troops who suddenly started talking amongst themselves trying to figure out what they were supposed to be doing in what order to whom and when with what appropriate sounds and motions. Quickly they broke into subcommittees and the chaos ensued. Such is the fearsome powers of the continuity grenade in a large group.

 

During the ensuing confusion Tomcat began to charge Fratboy, his staff trailing behind him as he ran straight at him. Looking skyward Fratboy seemed confused by the explosion “Is it halftime already?” Planting his staff hard into the ground Tomcat vaulted into the air and landed with his feet hitting Fratboy right in the face. This was not to injure his brain, a target too small to try to hit with a kick, but more to assault his vanity and throw him off guard. A twist of his hips and Tomcats feet hit the ground with a solid thump, letting his body twist and spin the staff into a two handed grip, the tip smacking
Fratboy solidly at the junction of his neck and his shoulders with a rather hard sounding wack. Tomcat recovered from the strike to Fratboy's shoulder and spun again. Letting the staff trail behind him in the famous scroll blowing in the wind technique. Not so much famous for its mystic origins, but more for the ad campaign that Tomcat had launched to help get better recognition for his latest paper “Kung Fu, the methods and matters of group theory of the Shaolin Monks of the Hocking River Valley, Volume 1” The second turn of his body led to another spinning strike, this time landing hard and solidly on the defenseless shin of Fratboy, leaving him screaming as he jumped up and down yelling “Charlie Horse!”

 

Two solid steps from the truck gave Red Judi a clear line of sight at Mrs. Snitt. Judi reached back and pulled out the extendable stun baton strapped to her knee brace and in a single flick of the wrist not only extended it, but energized it and struck on of the advancing ninjas who had been assigned to a subcommittee for the correct pronunciation of the word aiee. They had been making progress till the committee for the excessive use of the letter e sent them a memo stating the would only be supplied with two e's for the word and not the more traditional three e's due to budget constraints. This threw everyone into even more chaos until the baton smacked him between the shoulder blades causing him to suddenly rip open the large packet of ramen noodles he had been holding sending the contents skyward like some soft of wheat based confetti and leaving the committee suddenly without a chairman as he fainted..

 

What are you doing you cut priced idiots, attack them!” Came the voice from the badly and garishly painted palanquin chars occupant, the evil Tai Ming himself! The ninjas suddenly broke from their various comities and began throwing small dried cakes of noodles like throwing stars, letting them explode on impact against the vehicles and the people nearby. With a scream they began to charge about the time Red Judi closed in on Mrs. Snitt, striking out at her with the stun baton. With the skill only gained from teaching introduction to classical 18th century literature to the incarcerated, Mrs. Snitt deflected the blow with her yardstick, sparks flying between the two as she tried to strike back at Red Judi, her years of training letting her deflect the samurai like wooden blade as if it were so much paper blowing in the wind.

 

One of the ninja somehow threw a pack of noodles past Red Judi and through the open door to the truck, hitting Bryian's cup of coffee slightly below the rim and causing it to flip out of the holder, spilling the contents from it as it flew over the now coffee two cream no sugar drenched upholstery and out the other door. The cup made a slight clink as it hit Bryian in the gun belt. Slowly he turned and approached the cup, leaning down to raise it up to him like a fallen comrade. Some say when that time comes one can hear the audible snap of Bryian's composure breaking, others say it is just a few of the surviving braincells from the 80's just giving up the ghost for good. His eyes slowly darkened as the words slid out of his mouth and into the night “Sonofabitch must pay!”

 

For some this may seem a bit odd.

 

Hello, it is the narrator again. I thought that it may be worth mentioning that Bryian does not loose his temper very often. As a matter of fact the incidents are so few and far between that they can be recalled quickly in a small seugeway, vis, where you are now being drawn into. The most recent of these temper losses involved an alien invasion and a spilled cup of coffee. Needless to say the universe corrected itself as it is want to do and the aliens were repelled with the cup being returned to its proper state, full with milk added, no sugar. Previous to this occurred in the early 90s when the Russian State, then known hereabouts as “Those Red Bastards”, fell. Bryian took the fall of communism as a personal affront and some sort of devious plan no doubt engineered by Stalin himself from beyond the grave for no other Russian leader could inspire enough fear to make even death let him go on to carry out his nefarious plans. When the wall did come down there was much cheering and rejoicing, until someone spilled Bryians coffee. Now if you have payed attention the single most common thread in these stories, other than the unbridled force that becomes unleashed is the most simplistic of things, a cup of coffee. Now, coffee in and of itself is not the actual problem, it is more like the lack of it. Like air, there is no problem until it is gone and you are wanting it. Some say it is genetics as it seems one of Bryian's ancestors traveled with one Janisaius MacGowan, the man who almost single handedly started the Bulgarian revolution from no place other than a coffee shop. Some say it was his ancestor who brought forth the idea of a compensated working class of agrarian businessmen who made the basis for the pre-communist middle class, others say the last thing that was heard right before the fighting in the streets broke out was something that sounded like “No Cream?” Now, let us return to the carnage already in progress.

 

It did not take long for Bryian to react. Guns in hand he unleashed the first torrent of 10 super ball rounds not onto the coming onslaught of ninja directly, but more at knee level. This caused more than a few to fall writhing in pain as a hypervelocity super ball slammed into their shin and departed to seek out other knees and genitalia without so much as a by your leave. The effect was stunning. The unfortunate few who dropped at full run began to be a hurdle for those following immediately behind. This also made them obstacles to trip on for once hit, the ninjas like many people began to flail about on the ground, weapons still in hand. Ah, chaos once again had come to the Rangers aid!

 

Two steps past the front of the truck and the matched twin pistols were emptied and re holstered. One word erupted from Bryian as he held his hand skyward, his hair flowing free from the hair band, looking like some ancient pagan deity “HAMMER!” Keltic Tommy had guessed as much as he had already slipped from the sunroof mount and had emerged with a large war hammer in one hand and a harpoon in the other. With a deft toss the hammer flew skyward and landed in Bryian's hand, a deep growling yell coming from him as he charged deep into the attacking black mass.

 

There were a few seconds of silence as Keltic Tommy took a few steps to gain momentum and fling the harpoon not only skyward, but also downrange. The ark went high in the sky and was enough of a distraction as well as a demonstration of almost perfect inuit harpoon lofting that several of the ninja stood transfixed as they watched it sail upwards, trailing its rope behind like a streamer of color. Like a a cosmic lawn dart it suddenly turned and began heading back down, as if charging the earth, dairing it to get out of the way. The rope made a simple swishing noise as his hands went to work reeling in the slack like a killing blow on some great whale. It was about this time that the unlucky ninja noticed that the throw had not been so much in a strait line but more of a curvving arc, placing the harpoon solidly about 15 feet behind them, with the rope splayed out before them. It was about this time that Keltic Tommy has taken a few wraps around the hitch of this minivan, yelling out “GO!” as the Fish slammed the thing into reverse creating one of the only 6 cylinder powered speckled blue trip lines ever devised. Ninja began to slam into the ground except for the few that seemed to avail themselves to the free flying lessons provided by the ACME Rope Company as an added bonus. Buy smart, buy ACME, available at S-Mart.

 

Hello, it is the narrator again. Now for a moment, let us recap a few things. Tomcat was wailing away on Frat Boy who was now rolling on the ground screaming about his Charlie horse, Keltic Tommy and The Fish has succeeded in the first mass ninja trip ever done since the great Kyoto Acid tests of 1969 and Red Judi was reenacting “Duel of the Fates” with Mrs. Snitt. Bryian was waist deep in Ninjas and noodle packages both flying away from him like some soft of free radical particles that were being perused by ultra conservative particles. There, most all of the heroes are now accounted for. Then something really strange happened. Not strange in an outer limits type of strange, but more of a condensed weird like you find in the sales fliers printed on the back of comic books for things like fake vomit and x-ray specs.

 

Almost as if from nowhere a motor home came roaring into view, slid sideways between Tomcat and Frat Boy, paused for a moment, and then left at high speed towards the hanger, leaving behind nothing more than a large space where the large space between Frat boys ears should have been, simply he was gone. Tomcat screamed “By Dewy's decimal system what the hell was that?” pointing at the now receding motor home. It paused for a moment, in front of the hanger and then sped outwards towards Red Judi and Mrs. Snitt after doing what at first seemed like a donut but was in fact a circular turn to grab Missionary Man.

 

Keltic Tommy bolted for the vehicle and jumped into the side door, slipping quickly to the pinnel mounted gun, racking the slide back and pulling back on it obviously braced for the harsh pounding that should have been there. “I got nothing!” He scrambled to try to find the spare ammo. The Fish, his hat now missing and replaced with the kerchief of a pirate leaned out the window “Ramming Speed!!!!” and he slammed on the accelerator tossing Keltic tommy to the back of the van. Tommy righted himself and started to grab for the wheel while invoking the ancient chant of safety “nonnonononon” pulling it hard to one side and causing the van to swerve. This in effect caused a backlash of fleeing ninjas to run into a group of fleeing ninjas. This in turn caused a back surge of ninjas that somehow the sentence “Get off me feet!” suddenly echoed as “RETREAT!” as they all seemed to break for the woods. Tia Ming began ti curse from his sedan chair “Why is it they always...oh shit, RUN!!!!” Thus began the rapid beating about the head and shoulders of the palanquin bearers who were now trying to flee the fleeing ninjas. “Run you stupid ...oh hell” as the palanquin was dropped and the low rate minions did exactly what they had been told, they ran. Tai Ming stepped from the box and hiked up his hemlines, running himself into the woods and into the night.

 

The recreational vehicle swerved to miss the ninjas, the little blue and black heavily armed vehicle and darted right for Red Judi who was still deep in the fight with Mrs. Snitt. The engine revved as it swerved by her and a hand extended out the door as the vehicle slowed for a moment, and it grabbed Mrs. Snitt by the collar. From inside was heard “We got her dude, punch it!” as she was jerked through the flower print curtain. Bryian righted himself and with a stepping turn hurled his hammer at the back of the RV, causing the head to impact slightly above the rear window. The window responded to this show of force by immediately going to pieces.

 

With a quick turn, Bryian yelled “Keltic Tommy, Mark em!” Keltic Tommy turned quickly and grabbed what appeared to be a black powder long gun from the back of the van. Quickly he slung a pouch around his neck and in one move pulled out a powder charge. Before the retreating recreational vehicle could move out of its skid, he dropped the powder charge down the barrel and set a ball and patch. Two taps of the butt on the ground and a quick fling up in the air let the gun come to rest on Keltic Tommy's shoulder. “Clear!” echoed into the night just before he let the hammer drop and the charge explode. A sound like someone hitting a gong answered back at the explosion.

 

What good is that going to do?” The Fish asked as Tomcat ran back to the group “Why didn't it explode? Did he actually miss?” Keltic Tommy shook his head “Not even. Hit about 2 inches above the spare tire. Perfect shot.” Bryian nodded “Nice shooting...now with this little tracker involved we can find out where the real secret hideout is. Besides, it will mess up every radar gun it passes in front of. They will just flash 75 miles per hour as they go by What can be better than State Troopers to harass them from here to wherever they may be going..”

 

Tomcat pulled a small computer from his satchel and opened it up. He turned slightly side to side until satisfied with the signal. “We got em...light up like Edison's own Christmas tree. 5 by 5 and red hot. They might be mistaken for a pile of radioactive material if you don't look too close.” The Fish smiled “Especially after a few phone calls to alert them, as concerned citizens of course..”

Bryian nodded as Red Judi stepped up beside him “Well, its just round one...soon will be round two and the knockout punch. “

 

To be continued....