REPOST: RAC Challenge! #11

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at
Tue Oct 13 16:03:46 PDT 2015

Chapter by Rob Rogers who is best known for his
Easily-Discovered Man LNH series as well as
writing various other LNH stuff.  I think this
maybe the only time he wrote outside of the LNH
imprint during his tenure on RACC..

But like most of Rob's stuff it's incredibly
funny stuff.

From: franke at (Jerry L Franke)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.creative
Subject: REPOST: RAC Challenge! Ch. 11
Date: 11 Nov 1995 19:06:42 GMT

Continuing the retrospective...


                                 RAC CHALLENGE
Chapter 11: The Truth That Could Have Been Anywhere Else

   by Rob Rogers
   title by Mark Rosendorf
   Hair Care Products by Vidal Sassoon
   "Paragon!" Tina gasped, her eyes widening in horror as the stricken
   hero slumped to the ground. "Oh, Paragon, I'm sorry."
   "You're a sorry sight, all right," Tito grumbled, poking Paragon's
   prostrate form with his autopistol. "Perhaps you've forgotten that
   it's because of your Ultimate Friend here that the future you and I
   come from is a war-torn battleground, a constant struggle between
   Malevo's enhanced troops and people like you and I."
   "People who were inspired to fight Malevo after reading about the
   Ultimate Man who battled him in the past," Tina cried. "Oh, Tito,
   having to kill the man I've admired for so long in order to prevent
   his greatest enemy from gaining power is nothing short of..."
   "Ironic?" Paragon said, climbing to his feet.
   "You... but you can't be..." Tina gasped, before falling into a dead
   "Now there's irony for you," Tito said, leveling his pistol at the
   Ultimate Man's chest. "The one person who might have saved you is
   removed from the fight because of the shock you caused her... Good
   Lord! That potion, which was supposed to lower the iron in your
   "Has only eliminated the isotopes Iron-A, Iron-B, Iron-C, and Iron-D
   from my body," Paragon finished. "I still have enormous quantities of
   Iron-E left in my system--which, as you've noticed, has produced some
   unfortunate side effects."
   Insert biology/chemistry majors' reality check here.
   "Very well, Paragon," Tito said. "Even if you have been transformed
   into the world's most ironic human being, you can't possibly dodge a
   stream of bullets at this range. Au revoir, Ultimate Man."
   "Wait," Paragon said, but it was too late. A shower of automatic
   weapons fire erupted from Tito's weapon. To the Ultimate Twin's
   surprise, however, not a single bullet penetrated Paragon's skin.
   Instead, each and every shell ricocheted from an invisible energy
   field surrounding the hero's body. One knocked the gun from Tito's
   hand; another grazed his temple, rendering the boy unconscious. A
   third shattered a window, bounced off a flagpole, flew in through
   another window, zig-zagged its way up the stairs, and shredded an
   eviction notice Paragon's landlord was in the process of nailing on
   his door.
   "Subdiving parameciums!" Paragon exclaimed, kicking the gun free from
   Tito's grip. "I neglected to mention that a side-effect of having
   large amounts of Iron-E in my system is that it transforms me into a
   living electromagnet. That little quirk just happened to save my life.
   Unfortunately, it's also caused me to erase my entire collection of
   Grateful Dead bootleg tapes." He sighed. "Such is ever the
   thorn-strewn path that must be traversed by those who follow justice."
   The buzzer rang, interrupting Paragon's soliloquy. "Tamponading
   tuataras!" he marveled. "Whom could intrude at such a time?"
   He leaned toward the door and flicked the intercom switch. "Yes?"
   "Dirk?" said the voice, surprised. "It's Myrna. I was looking for
   "Uhh... yes, of course," Paragon said, cursing himself for forgetting
   to lower his voice several octaves. "I... uh... watch the place while
   the master is away. C'mon up."
   Paragon struck the buzzer, and immediately looked about the
   tastefully-decorated apartment, now decorated with the somnolent forms
   of Tito and Tina, several dozen steel bullet casings, and an
   overturned cup of coffee. His secret identity was at stake. Working as
   fast as only he could, Dixon City's Ultimate Man mopped, cleaned,
   polished, repaired the damaged window, freshened the rug, stacked Tito
   and Tina in the closet, changed his clothes, calculated and debated
   the merits of a balanced budget amendment, and negotiated a lasting
   peace between Israel and several Palestinian splinter groups in the
   time it took for Myrna to ascend the stairs to his apartment.
   "Thank the Lord the elevator's still on the fritz, or I never would
   have been able to get them to agree to bilateral disarmament," Paragon
   thought. "The door's open, Myrna," he said, hearing her footsteps in
   the hall.
   "Dirk," she said. "You always did beat me to all the hottest stories.
   I need to find a way to get in touch with Paragon. It's very
   A loud "thump" came from the closet where Paragon had stored Tito and
   "What was that?" Myrna asked.
   "Rats," Darringer said, hastily. "Tampa Bay is rife with them."
   "Paragon," the closet said, weakly.
   "And Cuban refugees," Darringer added. "Those wacky little scamps. You
   just never know where they're going to turn up next."
   "Dirk," Myrna said, suspicion growing in her delicately-chiseled
   features, "is there something you're trying to hide from me?"
   Darringer sighed. For so long he'd wanted to tell her, wanted to be
   able to share with her--to share with someone--the stories, the pain,
   the few fleeting moments of glory and the ever-present weirdness of
   his life. He'd had a feeling about Myrna, an idea from the moment
   she'd set foot in the door of his newsroom, fresh from some obscure
   backwater weekly paper in the hills of New England, that she would
   somehow come to play an important part in his life. Maybe this, after
   all, was the time.
   "You're right, Myrna," Dirk said, straightening himself up. "There is
   something you don't know about me--something I haven't told you that
   makes me different from anyone you've ever... "
   Before Dirk could finish, the closet door sprang open and the two
   dazed Ultimate Twins tumbled out at Myrna's feet.
   "Oh. My. God," Myrna screamed. "You're a pervert! You're a child
   molestor! You're one of those homeopathic killer-people!"
   "MacramÈing Muskrats!" Dirk said. "Myrna, it's not like... "
   At that moment, Tito rolled over and looked the slender female
   reporter full in the face. Both drew back, startled.
   "You?!" they both shouted. Tito scrambled for his gun, but Myrna was
   quicker. With a single swift blow from her pocketbook, the pint-sized
   assassin crashed to the carpet and resumed his catatonic state.
   "Waitaminute," Dirk said, the gears of his brain tumbling like those
   of a well-oiled Swiss watch. "How, exactly, do you and Tito know each
   "We've had a few run-ins before," Myrna said mildly, pushing her bangs
   back into place. "Nasty little things, those twins. This makes what I
   have to say to Paragon all the more urgent. Do you have any idea where
   he might be?"
   "He's right here," Dirk said. "I am Paragon, the Ultimate Man."
   There were a few moments of startled silence before Myrna said, "Oh."
   Then, "Oh" again.
   Then, "I don't know where to begin..."
   "Begin with what you came here to tell me," Paragon said, the element
   of confidence having returned to his voice.
   "There's someone who's been causing trouble in Dixon City," Myrna
   said. "She calls herself the Ultimate Woman."
   "It can't be..." Paragon began, then stopped. Of course it could.
   Another side effect of the Iron-E in his system.
   "I can't go into battle right away," Paragon said, and then explained
   the whole situation with the twins, the Enhancer, and the
   iron-depleting potion to Myrna. He would have gone on to explain a
   great number of other things to her--things the floodgates of his
   heart, now loosed, were every moment pressing on his lips to say--but
   stopped when it became clear Myrna had something to add.
   "Since you've told me... what you've told me, the least I can do is to
   tell you something I haven't told anyone else for the past five years,
   something that could save your life. My father was one of the greatest
   research chemists who ever lived. Unfortunately, he became known more
   for his contributions to chemical warfare than for any of the thousand
   things he did to improve the health, welfare, and quality of life of
   everyone around him."
   "Such is always the way," Paragon said.
   "In his laboratory you are bound to find the answer to your
   condition," Myrna said. "In doing so, you will vindicate my father's
   memory forever to those who believe him to be a killer. Hurry. The
   location and access codes to the laboratory are on this card."
   Paragon pressed her hand briefly before heading for the stairs.
   "Are you sure you can handle the Ultimate Twins?" Paragon asked.
   "Don't worry," Myrna replied. "I'll take care of them. But, Para...
   Dirk... why did you tell me?"
   "Because it's the truth," Paragon said. "It had to come out sooner or
   later, here or anywhere else. I wanted you to be the one to hear it."
   With that, he left the building, nearly trampling his landlord on the
   way out.
   Six hours later, Paragon wiped the sweat from his brow as a series of
   long narrow tubes, burners, flasks and cylinders finally yielded up
   the first drops of a cold, phosphorescent liquid.
   "At last," the Ultimate Man said. "I don't think I can take much more
   of this irony affecting every aspect of my life. Having all of the
   elements in this antidote just happening to spell out 'Ultimate' was
   pretty bad. Having the tabulated atomic weight of the final product
   turn out to be the phone number of a girl I dated in high school who
   called me the 'ultimate dork' was even worse. But having Aaron Levitz
   pop in out of the middle of nowhere a few minutes ago claiming to be
   the avatar of Annubis still has me shaken up. I'm pounding this puppy
   before anything else can happen."
   Just as the phial of antidote touched Paragon's lips, however, the
   door to the upper laboratory burst open, and a massive, smoke-belching
   forklift steamed forward, the Ultimate Woman at its wheel.
   Paragon's jaw dropped.
   "It's you," he whispered. "Mary Lu... the woman from my dreams."
   "I've heard that one before," Mary Lu Retina replied, gunning the
   forklift's engine. "Hand over the enhancer, or become a Paragoner."
   "The enhancer? You mean the antidote to my condition is the same
   formula Malevo will use to control the world? Then Tito and Tina were
   right. I really am responsible for the enslavement of humanity!"
   "Don't play innocent with me, Ultimate Man," Mary Lu spat. "If you
   didn't want Malevo to get the formula, why did you brew it in his
   "In... Malevo's laboratory?"
   "That's right, Paragon," said a familiar voice. Dirk felt himself
   shoved backward by an invisible, inexorable force as an energy shield
   shattered the forklift and coalesced around the bodies of he and the
   Ultimate Woman. "Perhaps, when I was unburdening my soul to you
   before, I should have mentioned that I've kept a few other things
   secret for the past five years. For instance, I never told you my true
   name... the one my father gave me... Myrna Malevo!"
   "Doctor Malevo's daughter!" Paragon gasped.
   "Hey, you're good," Mary Lu said. "You must have read a lot of Hardy
   Boys mysteries while growing up."
   "I don't believe it," Paragon muttered. "Myrna is Malevo's daughter,
   and Mary Lu... she tried to kill me with a forklift."
   "You and the Ultimate Twins destroyed my father's body, but not his
   spirit," Myrna continued. "Horst-Bock Pilsner Malevo was nothing if
   not a master planner. He foresaw this very circumstance, and that is
   why he arranged to have the raw genetic material for his new Ultimate
   Body available on the very spot where his assassins would strike him
   "What do you mean?" Paragon asked.
   "I mean," Myrna said, "that I will use my father's science to
   transform the bodies of Tito and Tina into one, perfect, Ultimate
   Being, to be imbued with the reincarnated spirit of my father--who
   will then use the enhancer you created to rule the world!"
   "But I have the enhancer," Paragon said, "and you can't have it. So
   nyah, nyah, nyah."
   "Why is it," Mary Lu said, "that whenever I'm stuck in a death trap it
   never happens to be with MacGyver?"
   "I don't need the enhancer you hold in your hand, idiot," Myrna said.
   "The laboratory's security cameras recorded every instant of its
   creation. It can be duplicated easily--once my father has been
   restored to life!"
   "No--" Paragon began, but was cut off as Myrna made the energy field
   soundproof. With one eye on her captives, she typed away on her
   computer console in a frenzied flurry of activity. Below her, in a
   long, shallow pit, Tito and Tina held each other, trembling, as
   Malevo's Molecular Scrambelino whirred to life.
   Myrna smiled, Paragon screamed noiselessly, and Mary Lu covered her
   eyes in horror as the deadly particle beams fused the bodies of Tito
   and Tina together, forming them into one, shimmering, bloblike-proty
   that glowed with pulsating radiation. None of the three noticed a dark
   figure entering the laboratory silently at the far end of the chamber.
   "And now," Myrna said, speaking into a sleek black microphone, "I give
   my instructions to you, oh mass of fertile, Ultimate life that will
   bear my father's genius for generations to come. I have now adjusted
   the Scrambelino to pry forth the fabric of the ethereal world itself,
   and release the spirit of he who created all of this into your perfect
   The dark figure stole noiselessly toward the control booth.
   "You will now assume the spirit, personality, powers and abilities of
   the being whose name you next hear," Myrna declared.
   The protoplasmic being nodded in assent, just as the uninvited guest
   to Malevo's rebirth glanced for the first time at the horror being
   assembled in his laboratory.
   "Almighty God... ," the figure gasped, in a voice loud enough to be
   recorded by Myrna Malevo's microphone.
   Myrna screamed as an unearthly light burst forth from the chamber.
   To be continued...
   Can the Creator become the created? Will Paragon escape the daughter
   of his deadliest foe--and if so, can he avoid the blackness of his
   future? Who is the mysterious figure who invaded Malevo's lab? Will
   Tito and Tina return from genetic oblivion? What is the real
   significance of Paragon's dream? Whatever happened to Scarecrow's
   brain? All of these answers--and a thousand more questions--in a story
   that could only be called:
     * Next issue: Chapter 12: "Point of Departure" or "Divine is Easy,
       Comedy is Hard" by Bill Keir
    Rob Rogers
    Easily-Discovered Man Lite of the LNH


Jerry L. Franke                        franke at
Computer Science Dept.                 Indiana University
formerly from Florida State University

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