REPOST: RAC Challenge! #4
arspitzer at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 25 17:08:39 PDT 2015
Chapter Four by Jerry Franke..
From: franke at ucs.indiana.edu (Jerry L Franke)
Subject: REPOST: RAC Challenge! Ch. 4
Date: 4 Nov 1995 16:25:20 GMT
Chapter 4 of our rec.arts.comics Challenge! retrospective. See Henry
Broaddus' informational post somewhere else in this newsgroup for more
Chapter 4: Thrown Out Stealing
by Jerry Franke
title by Michael Kelly
THE STORY THUS FAR:
Dirk Darringer, better known to the citizens of Dixon City as Paragon,
the Ultimate Man!, barely escaped entombment by the evil Dr. Malevo.
By negotiating with the arch-villain over the fate of Malevo's beloved
Jas Rswert, Paragon was able to secure his release from the deathtrap,
swearing to make him pay in the meantime.
Discovering the fiend's secret lair, Paragon charged in to make his
arrest, only to find himself in yet another dastardly trap. Rendered
apparently powerless by the presence of grapefruit, our hero proved no
match for the deadly bullets unleashed his way. Only the timely
interference of Tito and Tina, the Ultimate Twins! saved him from
The twins managed to carry the wounded Paragon to the Ultimate-Mobile,
which suddenly sped off into the night. Dirk witnessed a nightmare
collage of images, mostly from his past, then awoke healed and whole
in front of the Morning Herald, where he works in his civilian
identity as a mild mannered reporter. Now, after accompanying
sportswriter Myrna Maple to an announcement of a new manager for the
Dixon City Dodgers, Dirk finds himself in battle with Spurgo, the
THROWN OUT STEALING!
It seemed no matter where Paragon pummeled the giant alien, all his
blows simply bounced off the villain's incredible armor. Even worse,
the behemoth seemed to grow larger with each blow.
"This is not going well," he thought to himself. "This guy's just too
tough. And I have to hold back or some of those people down there
might be hurt seriously during the battle."
Seven hundred feet below the fight, Myrna Maples was sticking a
microrecorder in the face of a very incredulous and worried looking
"Jorge Steinhoofer, how does it feel to be responsible for the city's
imminent doom? Is Spurgo now on the managerial hotseat?"
"I just don't understand," replied the team owner. "He's so big now,
and what happened to his mustache...?"
thwang! Paragon was beginning to tire, and he hadn't even made a dent
in his opponent's armor. He'd better find a way to end this soon, or
he wouldn't like the finale. As if reading his thoughts, the monster
turned slightly and let loose a mighty backhand blow that sent Paragon
crashing to the street.
Dirk tried to get up, but lacked the strength to do so. His chest was
on fire. He looked down to find... blood? The world began to cloud
over. "But I thought I'd healed..." he thought. His senses had
narrowed to a single, distant dot of light when he heard a reassuring
voice say "Don't worry son, you're with us now." Then it was dark.
It was a cold October day. The leaves had mostly fallen from the
trees, leaving them bare to the chilly touch of winter. These were the
times Merton Flagler relished. He took a sip from his coffee mug, then
slowly breathed out, watching the wisps of mist climb from his lips.
"If only it could always be like this," thought Merton, "all dead,
calm, and quiet."
He started at the sudden interruption. He glanced over his shoulder
and immediately regretted it. "Damn!" he thought. "It's those annoying
Ultimate brats! I told Paragon to leave those two at home!" He paused,
composed what he hoped was a sufficiently friendly expression, then
turned back to face the interlopers. "What can I do for you kids?" he
asked, in a hopefully satisfactory manner.
"It's Paragon!" panted Tito as he came to an abrupt halt in front of
the doctor. "He was shot by Dr. Malevo and we put him into the
Ultimate-Mobile to take him to help but it suddenly took off without
us and it shot straight up into the sky and..."
"Hold it kid!" Merton shook the Ultimate Kid. "You've got to get a
grip on yourself. Sure, Paragon may have been shot, but with all his
powers I can't imagine what could be so seriou..."
"But Dr. Flagler!" interrupted Tina. "We found this on the floor while
we were leaving!" She presented a small, multi-colored orb.
"So?" retorted Merton. "It's a superball. I had one when I was a kid."
"But it's not a ball. Look." She handed it to him. It was very warm,
and felt like polished stone. "And we've never seen Paragon without
it. It's usually in the amulet attached to his cloak. We're worried
about him, and we thought that DIOS could help."
"Well, if it involves mysterious forces, then you did the right thing
coming here to the Dixon Institute of Orthogonal Studies. Hm. Come on
inside. I'll have one of the staff fix you some cocoa while I examine
"Huh?" thought Dirk for the first time in hours. "Wha-?" Consciousness
was slow in returning to him.
Dirk Darringer. You must awaken now.
The voices rattled in his head. It was so hard to concentrate. Some
strong hands helped him up and smoothed down his clothes a bit. "You
gonna be okay, kid?" The voice was familiar, but from where? He
followed that thought back to full awareness.
He knew instantly where he was. This was The Chamber, domicile of the
Ultimate Collective. And the hands that held him were attached to a
body that wore almost the same stylized costume as Dirk did.
"Rex Reeves, the Pen-Ultimate Man?! What am I doing here?"
"Well, kid, I..."
When the masters speak, every sane man listens. The room was
Dirk Darringer, you are a failure.
"If you're talking about the gunshot, I can explain. You never told me
I was vulnerable in the presence of grapefruit..."
That was a lie. We took your powers.
"You did it?! But, why?"
You have failed your teaching. You ransomed your life using a man's
stolen possession. You bargained with evil. Your training and the
sacrifices made for it have gone for naught.
"Now look, it was a desperate situation. I didn't have a choice. I--"
That is no excuse. You also allowed your token of power to escape you.
Dirk looked down. They were right. The Ultimate Marble, from which he
drew his power, was gone. "But I didn't--"
Your excuses are irrelevant. You will be replaced.
A door to the left slid silently open, revealing a small, muscular
woman. "I am here to serve the good of the universe, masters," she
stated in a calm voice.
Good. You shall journey to earth to become their new guardian.
"No! You can't do this! I'll...I'll..." Dirk stopped.
You'll do what?
"I'll..." he had a sudden inspiration. "I'll join a higher power! I'll
remake the universe! I'll hold my breath! I'll... I'll... I'll bite
off my hand! I'll...do something..." Dirk knew a losing situation. He
let this last sentence trail off into nothing.
The Collective ignored him. Go now, Mary Lu of earth. Go and become a
Champion. White light bathed the area of The Chambers where the new
Ultimate Woman stood, and soon she faded out of sight.
Dirk swallowed his anger. He had trusted the masters this far. He must
wait and see where they were going with all this. Surely they must
understand the stories behind his recent mishaps. They must
understand, or he must make them understand before it became too late.
The Collective turned their attention to him. Dirk Darringer. You Have
some old business to finish.
Suddenly light bathed his section of The Chambers. He felt a tingling
sensation across his entire body, and a slight buzzing tickled his
ears. The room faded, to be replaced by another, even more barren than
The Chambers. He sensed a presence to his right, and turned to face
He was not prepared for what he saw.
At almost the same moment, Merton Flagler was bent over a desk in the
darkened stacks of the DIOS library, a lamp shining on a musty tome
which lay open before him. He barely breathed as he hurriedly
scribbled some notes. He glanced at the page, then glanced again. His
"I've got it!" he exclaimed, jumping up from the table and grabbing
the Marble of Power. "I know the secret!"
In all his excitement, he was quite unaware of the being behind him,
fist upraised, holding a curved blade that gleamed slightly in the
weak light. The hand reached its appropriate height, then danced
forward and down in one smooth motion.
* Next issue: Chapter 5: Into the Swamp, or How Can I Love You When
You Killed Me Last Night? by Aaron Levitz
Some notes from the author: Thanks should go to Mike Kelly for giving
us that really nifty dream sequence to play with. As indicated here,
Spurgo was just a continuation of that dream, but the images presented
before it are playing an important part in the story now. Daniel
Warren said it was o.k. to retcon the grapefruit thang, so there you
go, Dan. 8^) Good luck to Aaron Levitz, who inherits more than one
hero in peril.
Jerry L. Franke franke at cs.indiana.edu
Computer Science Dept. Indiana University
formerly from Florida State University http://www.cs.fsu.edu/~franke
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