SG: Rad #91 (2/2): the Tan Is
swede3000 at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 3 14:51:45 PDT 2006
[continued from part one, preceding...]
She let the psychokinetic energy coil inside her, the way dad
taught her. It slid over her skin in an instant, a loose shield she
could make strong with the speed of a thought. Kent Clark's right
hand was so large compared to hers that it almost disappeared, and
though he kept his grip as light as he could, she could feel the
pressure threaten to crush her bones. She strengthened the shield
around her hand, and used a bit of spare energy to approximate a firm
grip of her own. The trick, her dad had always said, was to know the
right amount of force to use, and to know it so well you did not have
to consciously think about it.
"Hi, Uncle Kent," she said. "That's Johnny, right?"
At that moment, the shark convulsed, and a five-year-old boy
slid out of its mouth, along with several broken shark teeth, a
license plate, and a metallic 'Spoonman' lunch box. The boy looked
up, his expression as dazed as that of the shark, then stuck out his
left hand. An anvil slid out of the shark's mouth and landed on the
boy's palm. It did not cause the boy's hand to dip any closer to the
Johnny Clark grinned.
"See you later, Mister Shark!" he exclaimed. Rumiko was mildly
relieved to note that, despite clearly having something of his
father's strength, he did not have his father's tendency to demolish
buildings when he forgot to not shout.
Uncle Kent stepped back out, wiping out the progress the house
made in rebuilding the wall. Rumi glanced down at the wiry,
blue-haired boy, who was tossing the anvil from one hand to the
other, and mentally calculated how quickly she could get out of the
room without being noticed.
"Put the anvil away, sweetie," said Key. "Time for breakfast."
"Already had breakfast!" Johnny protested.
"What did you have, then?"
"Um... unicorn steaks and seaweed!"
Key, unfazed, pulled out the chair next to her, picked Johnny
up, and sat him down on it. The anvil hit the floor and cracked the
tiles. Rumi edged toward the doorway, hoping everyone was too busy
to watch her. It was not that she disliked Johnny, exactly, but old
friends dropping in invariably meant that catching up on news would
occur, and that would mean *she* would have to watch the younger
child during that time.
"Have you heard from Yury?" Glum asked, as she slathered butter
on a piece of toast. "Will she make it to Hal's tomorrow night?"
Key looked exasperated, and Rumi could tell she had hoped the
subject would not come up. Ever since the demise of _The Super
Life,_ the reality TV show she and Yury Mitsuke did a few years back
(which Rumi only knew about because it was one of the few Earth
programs that was also a hit on the galactic networks, despite the 2D
format), the two former best friends hardly spoke to one another. A
tad ironic, given that it was Yury's manipulations on the day of her
first wedding that got Key back together with Kent Clark, and led to
their making it official a year later.
"Last I knew," said Key, "she was planning on it. Of course,
she's got that new movie she's working on, so who knows? You didn't
talk to her when you bought this place back from her?"
"That was, like, three months ago," said Rad. "She was, like,
already in her house, like, in Beverly Hills, y'know? We worked it
out, like, through agents and, like, stuff..."
Just then, the sound from the radio grew louder. Her father had
turned up the volume.
"--just in," said a voice from the radio. "Armed robbers have
barricaded themselves inside the First Conglomerated National Bank in
downtown Los Angeles. Early reports indicate it appears to be a
heist gone awry. No word as to their demands, or how many hostages
are being held, but according to Police Chief---"
The repairs to the wall had nearly been complete. Rumi thought,
in the aftermath of this latest crash, that she could hear the house
groan at the prospect of rebuilding the wall *again.*
She went to the hole and saw her dad flying away, low across the
ocean. She felt the psychokinetic power fill her, and she lifted off
"Breakfast, Rumi," said her mother. "You remember what I said
on the way to Earth, right?"
Rumi felt like kicking the wall. Instead, she lowered herself
to the ground, though she did not turn.
"No helping dad defuse hostage situations unless he says I can
come along," Rumi repeated. "Especially if I haven't had my
"You don't think we should go along as well, do you?" Key asked.
"I mean, it's been a while..."
Glum made a 'pfssh' sound and waved her hand in the general
direction of the diminishing hole in the wall. "I was expecting this
ever since he put on the radio this morning. Let him have some fun."
"According to Police Chief Froid," the radio announcer went on,
"the group issued a statement that any superguy attempting to defuse
the hostage situation would not stand a chance, that they were fully
prepared for it and that was that, no two ways about it."
"How would they be prepared?" Rumi asked.
"Villainous ultrascience," the announcer answered. "They were
kind of vague about the exact nature of the ultrascience, but they
promised it was extremely evil and extremely ultrasciency."
"Thanks, I... hey, wait..."
"Er... this has been a plot point bulletin from KPPS, your Plot
Point Station," the announcer continued. "And now... K-Fed."
Glum switched the radio off and shook her head.
"Doesn't make a difference," she said. "Darling can take care
of villainous ultrascience. That hardly qualifies as an
"Where's Kent?" Key asked.
The house shook, and the self-repair routines gave up for the time being.
"There he goes," said Rumi, watching Kent Clark, now wearing a
purple-and-bright-orange costume with flowing cape, as he flew away
at Might Fast speeds in the same general direction her father had
"Okay, *now* it's an emergency," said Key. "Rumi, can you watch
Johnny for a bit? We've got to do some damage control."
"Turn off the stove before dad's omelet burns," Glum instructed,
as she and Key flew out through the hole in the wall.
Rumi sighed as she watched them fly away, then went over to the
stove and switched it off. The omelet was already burned, and she
doubted she would have eaten it even if it was not. Despite Dad's
best efforts to get her to like it, she could not stand tofu.
Johnny Clark picked his anvil off the floor and was spinning it
on his nose. On seeing her look at him, he let it drop to his hands
"Can I see the shark again?" he asked.
Rumi grimaced. She remembered how annoyingly precocious she had
been at Johnny's age, if only because her parents kept extensive
holographic records and delighted in showing them off to friends,
relatives, and the occasional random passerby. Johnny was that way
now, and his inherited abilities meant that there was very little
apart from his parents that could keep him from acting out.
The thought gave her an idea.
"Hey, Johnny," she said. "I don't suppose you can fly, can you?"
As the heat of wind friction seeped through his psychokinetic
shielding to warm his extremely well-tanned skin, Rad felt himself
come alive. All through the previous day, as he guided Rumi through
a brief tour of what he remembered from the last time his primary
residence was Planet Earth, he had felt like a tourist in his own
home. ("There's where I got zapped by the beam from your mother's
ship and got my powers..." "There's where they used to hold
Ridiculous Class Wrestling matches, where I first got snorked into
the Television Dimension..." "There's the store where Glum and I got
the groceries that we... er, let's move on....") But now... now, he
was back. The guy with the blond hair that contained enough styling
products that it could deflect bullets. The epitome of true
Californian virtues. The Man with the Tan.
Glum had seen through all his protests that he just wanted to
come back to Earth, that he did not want to go back to being a
superguy. Though the time between his acquiring of superpowers and
his departure from Earth to live on Planet Hottentot had been less
than two years, they had been the best under-two-years of his life.
Glum knew what the transformation meant to him, and told him not to
even try fighting his nature. He was what he was, and this world
still needed that.
The buildings of metropolitan Los Angeles came into view. He
recognized a few, such as the Transamerica Building, but many he did
not. He was not surprised; he had never been very detail oriented,
and in any case, he had little use for them, save for those with
roofs that made excellent places for a bit of breaktime tanning.
The umbrella-like shape of the C Building (so-called because it
had once resembled a towering letter 'C', though a series of absurd
events removed the top part of the C and replaced it with a swanky
restaurant called 'Dave's Place') caught his eye. He remembered
there were a number of banks in that area. While the helpful radio
announcer had said the bank robbers were in 'downtown Los Angeles,'
he had not been so helpful as to specify *where* in downtown Los
Angeles, which left a lot of ground to fly over. Rad wondered if he
should start at the C Building and work south.
The heat from the missile singed Rad's chest as it fssshhhed by.
The projectile exploded a moment later, though Rad's shields held up
against the flames and the shockwave.
Far below, about fifteen or so vehicles with red-and-blue
flashing lights were clustered around the entrance to a large and
regal-looking building. The trail of smoke left by the missile led
to a hole in the full-sized window next to the revolving door.
"--me out with your hands up," said a voice amplified by a
megaphone. "This is the police, we have you surrounded. Let the
hostages go. I repeat---"
Rad could barely hear the voice, high up as he was. That he
could hear it at all was because of the [space science!] Glum
convinced him to let his doctors use to return his hearing to its
peak. He considered what the speaker had said. He considered the
blockade formed by the police vehicles.
"Like, they ought to, like, know where I can, like, find the
bank where, like, those hostages are being, like, held," he concluded.
As he flew down, he recognized that the small blobs around the
police vehicles were people in bulky armor. Many were armed, and all
appeared to be pointing their weapons in the direction of the window
through which the missile had been fired. One held a megaphone.
No donuts were immediately visible, so Rad guessed they were
busy. If they were busy, it meant they probably did not want to stop
and give directions. He decided to fly into the place they had
surrounded, to see if he could find a civilian who was both civic and
He heard gunfire as he swooped through the hole in the window,
but nothing bounced off his shields. Before he could pull up and
land, he knocked over two men who had been putting a large pointy
thing into an even larger tubelike thing. Both men wore black
ski-masks and three-piece suits.
"Halt," a third man, who stood next to six people who were lying
face-down on the floor. "You are not supposed to be in here. Leave
now or I shall... I shall...."
"Dude," said Rad, "it's, like, okay. I'm not, like, mad about
the, like, missile thing, y'know? I just want to know---"
"You will leave at once!" the man closest to him yelled, as he
got back to his feet. "Or we will kill the hostages! We are bank
robbers! Robbing this bank is what we are doing! With ultrascience!"
Rad's eyes narrowed. Something was not adding up. He had come
to this place to ask for directions to a bank that was being robbed,
where hostages had been taken. And now here he was, in a lobby that
looked very much like a bank lobby, with a group of three men who
referred to themselves as bank robbers and threatened to kill some
hostages. That could only mean....
"Dude," he said. "Am I, like, in an S&L?"
"A... a what?" asked the masked man closest to him. "I... oh."
He then went silent, though Rad had the unaccountable feeling that he
was listening to something. "No, this is a bank. And we are bank
robbers." He brandished his automatic rifle in Rad's general
direction. "And you will leave now! Or! We will kill the... the...
Jessica Simpson tickets!"
Rad frowned. The man was not making sense.
"We must be the thirteenth caller!" the three bank robbers
chorused in unison. "Then we shall receive two tickets to tonight's
Jessica Simpson concert!"
The robbers dropped their weapons and dug expensive-looking cell
phones out of the inside front pockets of their suits. As they
frantically dialed, Rad looked about the lobby. It was certainly
well-appointed. The marble tiles were black and shiny. The desks at
which customers begged for money were dark and oak-y. The enormous
sign just below the teller windows that read 'Welcome to First
Conglomerated National Bank -- Downtown Los Angeles -- ask how you
can get your free fruit juicer!' Rad could certainly see why they
picked this branch to rob. It was *classy.*
Then his eyes went back to the sign. He read it. He read it
again. Just to be sure, he read it a third time.
"Like, dohw," he said.
The robbers stopped trying to dial for Simpson tickets, and
picked up their rifles.
"We... do not need Simpson tickets!" one of them shouted. "We
are robbers of banks! We are takers of hostage! With ultrascience!
Put them up, extremely well-tanned hero person! Before we---"
"We must shake our Laffy Taffy!" another robber interrupted.
"That Laffy Taffy!" the third exclaimed. "We must shake that
"But..." the first robber said, a note of fear suffusing his
voice. "We have no Laffy Taffy to shake! From where shall we
acquire this... Laffy Taffy?"
Rad, who had had about enough of this, raised his right hand and
hit the three with powerful psychokinetic blasts. The thieves hit
the nearest wall and stayed upright, if only because they were too
embedded to fall.
"Okay, dudes and dudettes," said Rad, as he turned to the
hostages. "You're, like, free to escape and, like, stuff..."
The hostages were not on the floor. Rad looked up at the hole
in the window in time to see the last of them legging it away. He
was impressed, not remembering hostages from back in the day being
nearly so spry.
"Like, well," he said, to himself for lack of any detectably
coherent audience, "my first day, like, back, not, like, counting
yesterday because, like, it wasn't a, like, full day, and I foil,
like, a bank robbery without, like, causing additional, like,
property damage. Like, score!"
When even the unconscious bank robbers winced in anticipation,
he knew he had said something wrong.
Ten minutes later, after he pushed away the last of the bricks,
plaster, desks, police cars, and asphalt, and hauled out the
still-unconscious bodies of the would-be bank robbers, Rad surveyed
the damage. He found it was actually less than he expected. The
blast happened outside the bank, well behind the ranks of police
cars, though it had been powerful enough to wreck the wall between
the bank lobby and the sidewalk. No bodies were in evidence, and Rad
could see several armored heads peering from alleyways and manholes
and hot dog vendor carts, so everyone outside must have had enough
advance warning to get away from the source of the blast.
Rad watched Mighty Guy climb out of the crater, followed by Glum
"We've arrived just in time!" Mighty Guy declared. "The robbers
set off an explosive to cover their escape, but clearly got caught in
"Um, I don't think so," said Glum, as she released Mighty Guy's
arm. Rad realized that it had been through her and MeltDown's
efforts at steering that kept Mighty Guy's arrival from being even
more catastrophic. "Darling, did you catch the robbers?"
"Like, yah," said Rad. "Though, like, they would have, like,
escaped, if Mighty Guy, like, hadn't, like, arrived so, like,
Mighty Guy beamed. MeltDown shook her head. Glum looked at the robbers.
"They don't look like the kind of robbers you used to stop," she said.
Rad regarded the still-masked robbers. He and Glum unmasked
them, and found they were as doughy and middle-aged as their suits
suggested. One was coming around to something like consciousness.
"Where... am I?"
"In, like, deep doo-doo," said Rad. "Your, like, nefarious bank
robbery, like, has been foiled, y'know?"
"What?" the robber asked. "I... don't understand. I... robbed a bank?"
"Tried to!" Mighty Guy declared, causing piles of brick to shift
and all the armored police officers to duck for cover. "You were
stopped by our combined efforts!"
"But," said the robber, "I don't remember... I don't remember
anything. Only the voices... the voices that said... I don't
"Dear," said Key, gently but firmly, "I think it's time we
turned this over to the authorities."
"Right!" Mighty Guy declared. "I will then return to the hou...
er... my Fortress... er... Place!" He took off again, though this
time, both Rad and MeltDown were ready, and used their combined
powers to limit the scope of the damage from Mighty Guy's takeoff.
MeltDown gave him a weak smile before she took off after her husband.
Glum shook her head and returned her attention to the robbers.
"It's very strange," she said. "It's been a while, but I don't
remember these kind of humans as being typical bank robbers."
"Like, yah," Rad agreed. "They usually, like, can loot banks,
"The voices have gone," the conscious robber groaned. "All I
hear... is static."
"Like, whoah," said Rad. "You, too?"
"Excuse me," said someone to Rad's left. Rad observed that the
someone was a police officer who, despite being armored to the point
of looking like two officers, looked very concerned about his
personal safety. Rad gave the officer his best reassuring grin, the
glare from which caused the officer to clutch at his eyes.
Another officer approached, this one having observed the first
officer's predicament and taken the precaution of putting on her
reflective sunglasses. She and several other officers led the
conscious robber away, and carried the two still-unconscious others.
Rad and Glum watched them depart, though their questions remained.
"What was really going on in their heads?" Glum asked. "Where
was all this 'ultrascience' they were talking about?"
"Whom do I, like, ask about, like, the free fruit juicer?" Rad inquired.
Glum shook her head and looked up at Rad.
"I forgot to mention," she said, "on the way here I got a call
routed to my transceiver from the house. Something called 'Homeland
Security' is trying to reach us. The agent said your daughter's been
flying too close to jetliners, and apparently was riding the wings of
one for a while."
Rad nodded, remembering how he walked the wings of a plane once
in the early portion of his heroic career. Those had been the
"Apparently," Glum continued, "she brought Johnny Clark with
her, and now they're both being detained."
Rad frowned. No one ever detained *him* for hanging out on the
wing of a plane in flight. He wondered if William Shatner had been
riding in coach.
"Well, like, what does this, like, 'Homeland Security,' like,
want us to, like, do?"
Her words trailed off as she realized they were surrounded.
Between thirty and forty people--all brandishing cameras, cell
phones, videocameras, microphones, and other media
paraphernalia--were on all sides. They were eerily silent, like
ninjas, or people called on to explain why Rob Schneider continues to
get acting work.
"Like, wow," said Rad. "Our first, like, media opportunity,
like, of our new lives, like, y'know? No doubt they are, like,
wondering what a superguy, like, of my celebrity is, like, doing here
in, like, town---"
"Mr. Wilson!" one reporter exclaimed. "Where did you get superpowers?"
"Where did you get that great tan, Owen?" another asked.
"Was this a result of prolonged exposure to Ben Stiller?"
inquired a third.
"Like, er..." Rad floundered.
"How will this affect your film career?" asked another reporter.
"Will your next movie be in high definition to do justice to your
"Like, who do you, like, think I am?" Rad asked.
The reporters, too busy shouting questions to hear anything in
return, did not answer. Their words became a blur of sound, while
questions churned through Rad's head.
*Do they even remember who I was?*
*Did I leave a mark at all?*
*Do I have a fruit juicer at home?*
PENETRATING QUESTIONS, INDEED!
WHAT OF YOUNG RUMI, WHO HAS ALREADY RUN AFOUL OF LAW ENFORCEMENT?
WHAT OF KENT/MIGHTY GUY, WHOSE SON HAS NOW RUN AFOUL OF LAW ENFORCEMENT?
WHAT OF KEY/MELTDOWN, WHO DID NOT FINISH HER BREAKFAST?
WHAT OF GLUM, WHO ALONE SEEMS TO HAVE NOTICED SOMETHING ODD ABOUT THE
WHAT OF THE BANK ROBBERS, WHO SEEM NOT TO REALIZE WHAT THEY DID?
WHAT OF THE POLICE, WHO ARE CLEARLY UNDERPAID, CONSIDERING THEY HAVE
TO DEAL WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF MIGHTY GUY SHOWING UP?
WHAT OF THE FORMER HOSTAGES, WHO ARE EVEN NOW TELLING THEIR TALES TO
WHAT OF THE REPORTERS, WHO ARE FAIRLY STEALTHY, ALL TOLD?
WHAT OF THE PAPARAZZI, AND THEIR PLANS FOR THE EARTH?
WHAT OF ROB SCHNEIDER? WHAT OF JESSICA SIMPSON?
Something nearly resembling answers will follow, in the next mildly
diverting episode, only on... SUPERGUY!
And now... K-Fed.
Gary W. Olson
swede3000 at earthlink.net http://gwox.livejournal.com/
swede at novitious.com http://www.novitious.com/
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