SG: Rad #96 (3/3): Taco

Gary swede at
Tue Oct 7 04:55:43 PDT 2008

(continued from part two, preceding...)


     Kirby zipped down the hallway leading to the _Vander Harkness's_
command center, disappearing in the blink of an eye.  Rad, who had
blinked both of his eyes, gave Elizabeth a questioning look.
     "He probably has the floor plan down by now," she said.  "Both
authorized and unauthorized areas.  Chalandra was going to give us the
tour, but this whole thing started just as we got to Los Requemados."
     "I, like, thought you were going to, like, be at Eivandt's
     "Our plane got in late," Elizabeth answered.  "And Chal and I had
some business to discuss, in addition to fun time.  I figured we'd see
you tomorrow."
     "This, like, your son's, like, first time out west?"
     "First in a while," she replied.  "Most trips I take, I can't
take him along... and he doesn't let me forget it.  When do they grow
out of that part?"
     "Like, when they, y'know, move out," said Rad.  "Ian and, like,
Chelsea always, like, used to complain when, like, one of us, y'know,
had to go somewhere.  Rumi, like, used to do the same thing, until,
like, we did, like, take her along.  Like, here.  To Earth, y'know?"
     "Oh, yeah," said Elizabeth.  "Glum was saying in her e-mail.
Rumi's been surly-girl all the way from Planet California to the state
of California.  She cuttin' you any slack?"
     Rad nodded.  "Like, some, now that, like, we're here.  Of course,
like, that'll only last, like, until she turns, y'know, sixteen..."
     "...and becomes a legal adult in the eyes of the Ottsamaddawidu
Confederation and can live where she wants," Elizabeth finished.  Her
eyes were still on the door through which Kirby had disappeared.
"Glum told me about that, too.  You ready for that?"
     Rad grinned and shook his head.  "Like, not even close, babe.
But, like, it was like we couldn't, like, stay away any more, like,
y'know?  Glum and I, like, love Planet California totally, but, like,
nothing ever, y'know, *happens* there."
     "Whereas we have happenings up to our necks," Elizabeth said.
"Believe me, boredom on Planet California sounds really good some
     "So, like, why don't you..."
     "Same reason you and Glum came back.  You belong here.  I belong
here.  Plus, there's the whole Boston-war-zone-big-wall-around-the-
city thing that I'd like to do something about.  And before you say
     Rad closed his mouth.
     "...the reasons that Superguys outside Boston can't intervene
still apply.  The reasons that extra-solar civilizations won't
intervene also still apply, I'm given to understand."
     His sentence was interrupted by a massive 'crash' sound from the
direction of the command center.
     "That had so better not be Kirby," said Elizabeth, as she started
     Rad flew past her, almost not giving the fast-sliding doors time
enough to admit him.  On re-entering the command center, he found
Kirby, plus those he had talked with on his initial arrival on the
_Vander Harkness_--Chalandra Harkness, Yury Mitsuke, Iris Adams, and
China Moroboshi.  There was an enormous hole in the ceiling where had
been the irising portal that had admitted him.  Several chunks of
metal were either on the floor or held upright by the walls of the
cubicles into which they had fallen.  Shaken cubicle dwellers huddled
by the espresso and vending machines.
     "Young man," said a familiar voice.  "What do we *say* when we
accidentally destroy an airlock?"
     Rad saw Key Li Pan bending down, a finger and a thumb firmly
holding an earlobe of five-year-old Johnny Clark.  Johnny, whom Rad
had earlier seen casually juggling anvils and sharks, seemed unable to
resist as Key pulled him in this manner toward Chalandra.
     "But, mooooommmmmm," Johnny complained.  "The doors didn't open
faaaast enough... maaaaaa!"
     "What do we say, Johnny?"
     "I'm... I'm sorry, Aunt Chalandra!"
     Chalandra knelt before the boy, who looked more distressed about
facing her than about his earlobe being pinched.  She waited, looking
at him without evident emotion, until he could look back at her.
     "I accept your apology, Johnathan," she said.  "You will take
greater care next time in flying toward a wall or a dome, won't you?"
     "I... I will!"
     "Then why don't you go with your mother to the play are---"
     "My anvil!" Johnny exclaimed.  He looked wildly about.  "Where'd
my anvil go?"
     "I don't---" Key started.
     Johnny took off, running along the rows of cubicles.  His
progress was easy to follow, as cubicle workers jumped out of the way
and cubicle walls made crunching noises as they broke.
     "We're losing monitors," China noted, from her security
workstation.  "Could someone please maybe stop him before his stomping
around takes out any more important wires?"
     "It's too bad you'll have to stay here," said Yury, who was
looking at Key.  Key looked back, annoyance crossing her comely
features.  "I don't think the play area they have set up is
     "You'd just love that, wouldn't you?" Key asked.  "Who's going to
keep Kent from plowing into a power plant during a battle?  You?"
     "I bet I could."
     "How?  By burning his suit off?"
     "Now that you mention it..."
     "I knew it!" Key exclaimed.  "You just want to take him away from
me, like you used to steal my boyfriends.  You think he can be just
another Hollywood scandal to advance your career!"
     "That's not true!" Yury replied.  Flames flickered from her hair
and parts of her flameproof red leather outfit.  "Who got you to come
back from Korea to marry him in the first place?"
     "You did," Key admitted.  "But only so you could break us up
     "When did I ever say that?" Yury asked.
     "Ma'am," interrupted Iris, her personal assistant.  "We did
discuss it last year.  You decided against it because it was unlikely
that he could stick to script, and also because of the high likelihood
of personal injury..."
     "I was joking!" Yury exclaimed, on seeing how dark Key's face was
getting.  "Okay, I was kind of pissed off because you wouldn't come
back to do _Super Life 4,_ but I thought she could tell..."
     "It's true," Iris said.  "I can never tell."
     "I wouldn't come back because I have a life!" Key retorted.  "A
life that no longer includes you every single minute of every day!"
She and Yury were now standing less than an inch apart, hands
clenched into fists, glaring into one another's eyes.  Somewhere
behind them, a collection of cubicle walls crumbled, and computer
monitors went flying.  Some workers looked panicked, but others seemed
more focused on the confrontation before them, looks of anticipation
straining their features.
     "Like, babes," said Rad, as he stepped up toward them.  Though he
doubted they would intentionally hurt him, he willed his psychokinetic
power to shield his body.  "Whatever is, like, going on, like, between
you two, it's time, like, to forgive and forget and move on and, like,
stuff, y'know?"
     "She left me!" Yury yelled.
     "She was smothering me!" Key yelled.
     "Where's my anvil?!" Johnny yelled.
     "Over here!" Kirby yelled.
     "Kirby!" Elizabeth yelled.
     "Like, people change, Yury," said Rad.  "Like, grow.  Move on.
You can't, like, treat them like, y'know, actors that exist, like,
only to fill a role, y'know, in your life.  Sometimes, like, you've
got to, y'know, let them go, and, like, trust that, like, they'll come
back, like, when they can."
     "Yeah," said Key, tilting her head up a bit.
     "And you ought to give Yury some credit, Key," said Chalandra,
who was standing on the side of the Key-Yury confrontation opposite
Rad.  "You were gone for several years.  She had ample opportunity to
seduce him then, but never took it.  And I think you know why."
     "That's not my anvil!" Johnny yelled.
     "What about this one, then?" Kirby called.
     Key and Yury, oblivious to the anvil-based drama being played out
elsewhere in the command center, looked hesitantly at one another.
     "I'm sorry," Yury ventured, her voice barely audible, the flames
that had been rising from her hair vanishing.  "I... I just..."
     "I know," said Key.  "I'm sorry, too."
     They embraced.  Several of the workers around them clapped.
Several others were recording with their cell phone cameras--though
they immediately stopped after Chalandra gave them pointed looks.
     "Not bad," said Elizabeth, as Rad stepped away to give them some
room.  "I know Chal used to be a therapist with the government, but
when did you learn to make with the insight?"
     Rad grinned.  "Like, school of life."
     Elizabeth waited.
     "And... and, like, 'Finding Nemo,' Liz."
     "Don't call me... well, okay, *you* can call me that," said
Elizabeth.  They looked back at Key and Yury, who were now whispering
to one another.  "Glad that's finally resolved.  Now we can, you know,
take care of that little matter at Dodger Stadium."
     "Speaking of which," said China, "something big's happening at
the stadium.  Take a look."
     Rad, Elizabeth, and China peered at the large monitor at China's
station.  It showed the same picture of a well-lit nighttime Dodger
Stadium as before.  Now, however, the bronze-gold nectarisite 'lake'
that filled the baseball-playing area pulsed.
     In the center, something was rising.  A long and circular
projection, not unlike the barrel of a large gun.  As they watched,
the base of the barrel rose past the level of the nectarisite lake,
and what was beneath it began to emerge.  It appeared to be a cone
covered with rococo ornamentation.  As its diameter grew, Rad became
increasingly concerned.
     "Like, whoah," he said, distilling the essence of his
     "What is that?" asked Yury.  She was now next to him, with Key
next to her, arm around her waist.  They crowded around China's
station with him and Elizabeth.
     "Big thing," China replied.  "Badly decorated.  Coming through
the metallic lake at Dodger Stadium.  Probably not season ticket
holders.  Mighty Guy, Manny, Bada... Guido, and Templar are on the
     "What about other area superguys?" Elizabeth asked.
     China shook her head.  "I've been trying to reach the West Coast
Defenders, Commander Frank, or anyone else on the open superguy
frequencies.  Communications are being jammed, and one guess as to
where the jamming is coming from."
     "We oughta get out there, before someone gets hurt," Key said.
     "We're not sure it has hostile intentions," Liz noted.
     "I wasn't talking about that," Key replied.  "Kent's out there,
     "Oh... right.  You'd better go."
     "Great to see you again, Liz," Key said, giving her a brief hug.
     "Yeah," said Yury.  "I didn't even know you were here yet.
Thought you wouldn't be getting in until tomorrow."  She turned to Key
and grinned.
     "Like old times, right?" she asked.
     "Let's go break something," Key replied, grinning back.  "I...
oh, right.  Johnny!  Where are you?"
     "Speaking of rogue pre-adolescents," said Elizabeth, "where's
     At that moment, Johnny Clark emerged from a still-intact cubicle
corridor, juggling five anvils.  Kirby zipped around him, occasionally
running up and over the flying anvils as if they were stairs.
     "I found my anvil," Johnny reported.  "And four more, just lying
     Chalandra saw this, and stepped away from where she had been
conferring with a technician.
     "Four anvils, lying around?" she asked.  "I... how?  Why?"
     "Monthly meeting of the Anvil Club," China told her.
     "I mean the real reason."
     "It's on the company calendar," said China.  "That's mine with
the skulls and flames on it."
     Johnny caught one of the anvils in his hands, and soon had all
five in a stack, with Kirby on top.  The anvil with the skulls and
flames was the second from the top, and fairly impressive to Rad.  The
others, from top to bottom, were a checkerboard-painted anvil, a
psychedelic day-glo anvil, an anvil featuring many different pictures
of Ryan Seacrest, and an anvil painted like a WWII bomber--with a
cheesecake-y Yury on the nose.  Yury saw this last one and grinned.
     "Anvil club, then," said Chalandra.
     "Anvil club," China replied.
     "I don't suppose the first rule of Anvil Club is you don't talk
about Anvil Club, is it?"
     "Um, no..."
     "Then make it so."
     "Johnny," said Key.  "Set the anvils down---"
     A huge crash rolled through the command center.
     "--gently.  Oh, dear..."
     "I hate to say it, Key," Chalandra said, "but I'm not sure if we
can survive an unsupervised Johnny Clark.  If you could stay in
     "Excuse me, ma'am," Iris Adams interrupted.  Chalandra, Rad, and
everyone else in the immediate vicinity turned their attention to the
petite, blue-and-white pantsuit-clad woman, who had stayed quiet since
her employer's confrontation with Key.  "I used to be a nanny for a
while.  I could watch the young Mister Clark... if it's also okay with
Miss Mitsuke."
     "Works for me," said Yury.  "Give yourself a raise when you get a
     "Um," said Key.  "What?"  Rad suspected that Key, voiced wishes
to the contrary, had not really expected anyone could watch her son
while she went into battle.
     "Hello, Johnny," said Iris.  "I'm Miss Adams.  I could show you
some other games you can play with these anvils, without disturbing
these folks.  Would you like that?"
     Johnny looked at his mother, who nodded.  "Okay!" he exclaimed,
and quickly gathered up the anvils.  "Is it how far I can throw them?"
     "More of a logic game," Iris replied, her voice imperturbable
and, inexplicably, now slightly British-accented.  "Come along, then,
we'll find a space where we can play..."
     "Try conference room three," China suggested.  "Don't mind the
table, it's ugly and needs breaking anyway."
     "Right, then," said Iris.  "Come along then, Mister Clark."
     Johnny, to Rad's surprise, gently accepted Iris's hand and let
her lead him and his re-stacked anvils away.
     "Now that that's done," said Elizabeth, "Kirby... Kirby, where
did you go?"
     "Dude was, like, here a minute ago, y'know?" Rad said, when
Elizabeth gave him a questioning look.
     "He'll turn up, I'm sure," said Yury.  Elizabeth seemed reluctant
to agree, then nodded.  "Okay, then.  Enough yabbering about here.
Let's go hit something."
     Rad needed no further encouragement.  He, Key, and Yury took off
through the partially-repaired hole in the roof and into the night
sky.  Their ears were immediately assaulted with the roaring sound of
the engines, something not audible inside the command center, despite
the torn dome-top.  Another feature no doubt designed by Bhossi and
Cla'rabhele, Rad thought.
     The top of the flying, H-shaped metal block that was the _Vander
Harkness_ was not as active as it had been when Rad and Yury had first
arrived.  All the VTOL jets were gone, all but one of the helicopters
were gone, and no one was driving around or being outfitted with a jet
pack.  Rad guessed everyone who could get airborne had already done
so, and everyone else had orders to get below decks.
     He followed Key and Yury further away from the _Vander Harkness_,
until they passed the outer edge of the exterior noise containment
field.  The tremendous engine sounds fell away to the typical sounds
of Los Angeles at night--car horns, sirens, gunshots, the rush of the
ocean--and some much less typical.
     They had gotten within visual range of Dodger Stadium during
their time on the _Vander Harkness_, Rad saw.  What they now could see
was much like the screen had earlier shown.  Dodger Stadium was filled
with a bronze-gold metal lake that glowed in the light projected by
the stadium's banks of powerful lamps.  In the lit parking lot, a
number of figures moved toward two helicopters that had set down, and
from the considerable gunfire he heard, he guessed that his friend
Guido, the onetime Badass, was in the vicinity.  Jet, jetpack, and
helicopter noise was all around, though Rad could not immediately see
those generating it.
     What had started rising from the nectarisite lake that covered
Dodger Stadium's field was now over a hundred feet tall and still
rising.  Its sides near its base were getting close to the railings
that separated the still-undamaged seats of the stadium from the
field.  Numerous ostentatious rococo curlicues and swooshes gave the
rising object a surprisingly tacky look.
     "It's like we're being attacked by something from the Hidden
Empire's garage sale," Yury noted.  "That big thing they try to get
rid of every year, that they got from their blind grandmother."
     At that moment, a massive bolt of electric energy vaulted from
the nose of the rising object into the darkness above.  The bolt was
thick and jagged, and washed everyone and everything around it in
blinding brightness for a moment before vanishing.  Far above, they
heard something explode.
     "Time to bring the hurt," said Key.  "Who's ready?"
     "Like, yo," Rad replied, letting psychokinetic power build in his
arms and hands.
     They waited.
     "Like, Yury?"
     "I'm trying to think of a line," Yury replied.  "It's hard
without a script."  She then shook her head, as if realizing what she
was saying.  "Never mind.  Let's toast this taco!"


Find out some of this and some other stuff in the next oblique
episode, only on... SUPERGUY!

And now, Kenny G.
Gary W. Olson
swede at novitious dot com
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