Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Beside Myself

Beside Myself
Mark A Davis

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Italy, and a bus hijacking was taking place.   The bus rolled down a mountainside road.  Inside, people screamed.  The hijacker carried an uzi and wore bright yellow fatigues decorated with images of candy, and a lime-green cloth wound around his head, leaving exposed only his eyes and the white stick from the lollipop in his mouth.

A similarly-clad terrorist held people at gunpoint at the back of the bus.

"Nobody move!" the one at the front exclaimed.  His voice was slurred from speaking around hard candy.  He waved his gun about -- there were several brightly-colored candy charms attached to it.  "Remain calm!  We're members of the Lollipop Liberation Guild!  Keep this bus travelling at at least thirty miles an hour!  If you're lucky, and the Italian government meets our sugary demands, then everyone will get out of this alive!"

Glass shattered as an old man in a gray suit flew through it.  He landed in the center aisle, jumped to his feet, and slugged the hijacker in the jaw.  Candy went flying.  He grasped the uzi and snatched a package of gum from the air as the man collapsed to the floor, then turned and shot the second terrorist.

"Lodare Dio!  È il Nonno l'Anarchia!" someone shouted.

"Grandpa Anarchy!" another exclaimed.  "We're saved!"

 Grandpa popped a stick of gum into his mouth.  "Happy to be of service," he said.


It was Sunday afternoon in Edinburgh, and the Royal Bank of Scotland was being robbed.  The man was tall and overweight and dressed in a spandex outfit of pea green and mustard yellow.

"Awright muckers!" he exclaimed.  "Me name's the Super Scunner and I'm nicking this here bank.  Keep yer hands where I can see 'em and dinnae call the grunters, ye ken?"  He tossed a burlap bag onto the check counter.  "Fill that and gies the didgerydoodah, and be quick about it or yer about to be leathered!"

A man in a gray suit stood up from behind the counter.  "Only one person's gonna be skudded here, and it's you, ya tealeaf!" he snarled.  He dove over the counter and punched the villain in the face.  Quickly he had  the Super Scunner on the ground and handcuffed.

"Yir nabbed, you manky heidbanger!" Grandpa Anarchy exclaimed.

"Heidbanger?" said the villain.  "I don't even like heavy metal."

"No," said Grandpa, "that's Scottish slang for idiot."

"Come on, man," said the Super Scunner.  "How would I know?  I ain't even Scottish...."


In Des Moines, Iowa it was still early on a Sunday morning, but a villain known as the Rat Dancer was piping merrily on a silver penny whistle and leading a long line of large and ferocious-looking rats down Grand Ave.  Police cowered behind blue sedans -- the magic of the flute sent fear into their hearts and prevented them from even drawing their weapons.

Up ahead, a man in a rumpled gray suit waited.  As the procession of rats approached, the villain let out a laugh.

"Grandpa Anarchy?" he exclaimed.  "This is who they send against me?  One old man against my entire army?  Good luck with that!"

Grandpa Anarchy cracked his knuckles.  "I don't need to fight an army of rats," he said.  "I just need to punch the one who's leading them!"  He charged forward, fist swinging.


"For countless acts of valor and bravery," said President Sheppard from the steps of the white house on a Sunday morning.  "For selflessly coming to the aid of this great country again and again, I am pleased and honored to present to you this Presidential Medal of Freedom.  We can never repay you for all that you've done for us, Grandpa Anarchy!"

Grandpa Anarchy bowed.  The President of the United States hung the medal around his neck.  "The honor is all mine, Sir," said Grandpa.

In one corner, a video screen displayed top news stories of the day.  The President blinked.  "My goodness," he said, "is that you stopping that hijacking in Italy?"  He glanced at his watch.  "But that was only thirty minutes ago!"

Grandpa Anarchy laughed nervously.  "Well, you know how it is with us Super Heroes," he said.  "We get around.  We have our ways."


Grandpa Anarchy sat in a chair in the Anarchy Cave and stared at a gaunt man in his sixties with a three-day growth of stubble, who wore a purple shirt and dirty blue jeans.  The man shifted nervously under the gaze of the famous hero.

"You know," said Grandpa, "back in the day I had a butler named Wilfred.  When I needed to be in  two places at once, Wilfred did a pretty fair impersonation of me.  Mind you, this was back when I used to wear a mask most of the time.  But Wilfred died in 1959, and I never got around to replacing him.  So when the President of the United States wanted to give me an award on national T.V., and I had to be on the far side of the galaxy helping out Jenny Nova, I figured, why not give my old enemy Frederick Rice a call?  Sure, he's a villain, but he's basically a nice guy.  He's done his time, he could use the money, and I don't know nobody who could impersonate me better than him."

"Hey, I did what you asked!" Fred said.  "I promised I'd do good things and that's what I did!"

"You did good, that's true," Grandpa agreed.  "You did a lot of good.  In fact, you did so much good that you were doing good things in at least ten different place on earth at the same time as you were accepting that award."  Grandpa sighed.  "You know, the point of hiring a double is to disguise the fact that I'm in more than one place at once.  You did the opposite -- you compounded the problem!"

"Gimme a break," said Fred.  He spread his hands, and suddenly there were three of him.  "Multiple clones is what I do!  That's my power, my whole schtick!  Maybe I got a little carried away -- but you can't actually say you didn't see this coming when you asked DoppleGangLord to take your place!"


Monday, February 20, 2017

Murderbot 150

Murderbot 150
Mark A Davis

Deep in the Anarchy Cave, located below the Anarchy Mansion in Frosthaven New Jersey, Grandpa Anarchy's current sidekick F8Wasp (pronounced Fate Wasp) crouched behind a rusting piece of machinery that might possibly have once been an experimental exoskeleton suit.  The young woman had long black hair and wore a sleek, form-fitted suit of black and silver and a mask.  Clutched tightly in her hands was a dart gun.

From elsewhere in the cavern could be heard a quavering, metallic voice.

"Is it... singing?" F8Wasp asked to the world at large.

"Yes," replied Annie Two.  The computer AI -- her full name was Anarchy Computer Mark II -- appeared on a nearby screen as a young woman who looked something like a librarian circa 1910.  "Murderbot 149 is a big fan of the Disney song I've Got No Strings from Pinocchio.  Independence is a big theme with him.  And I must add, you will find your darts ineffective against a creature made of metal -- even one as badly made as this."

"I've added some explosive darts to my arsenal," said F8Wasp.  "I forgot to inform you."

Annie Two raised an eyebrow.  From somewhere in the cavern  the robot called out, "Where are you, Father Anarchy?  I've added a machine gun and I have a bullet meant just for you!"

"Sorry, but Grandpa's not here!" F8Wasp shouted out.  "He's in Moldavia tracking down Double Donkey Motel!"

"Then I'll just have to kill you!" the robot exclaimed.

Murderbot 149 appeared, charging forward.  It was six feet tall and built from tin cans, tubes, and metal boxes.  There were arms and legs made of steel bars and giant hydraulic pistons.  There was a face with a flat panel of glass in which a red light moved back and forth like that of a Cylon from the 1978 show Battlestar Galactica.  In short, it looked like something built for a low-budget 1960's science fiction monster movie.

It did, however, move deceptively fast.  Bullets flew as F8Wasp dodged to one side.  Her explosive darts missed their mark, and in the next moment Annie Two barked an order in a very loud voice:

"Robo Lad!  Deactivation code alpha-beta-gamma-seven-omega-four-delta-delta-six.  Engage!"

The murderous robot's red eye winked out.  It toppled over with a clatter and a thud.

F8Wasp rolled to her feet, watching the machine warily.  "What did you do?" she asked.

"Electric Bluejay and Grandpa Anarchy built a deactivation code into their designs," said Annie Two.  "Robo Lad was, of course, meant to be Grandpa's robotic sidekick, but Bluejay was cautious and pragmatic.  Naturally Grandpa immediately forgot the code or that it even existed.  He's never used it, and consequently Murderbot 150 did not realize such a thing existed himself."

F8Wasp examined the robot.  "What a piece of junk.  Grandpa actually built this?"

"With the aid of the Electric Bluejay, yes," replied Annie Two.  "The robot went rogue immediately.  Murderbot is a sort of psychopathic Tin Man whose only goal is to kill Grandpa Anarchy, and who renames himself every time he gets and upgrade.  Unfortunately, since Mister Anarchy is not, in fact, a robotics genius, the poor robot has had to make do with whatever he can scrape together."

She paused, then added, "But we can do better...."


"You want me to do what?"

Geothermal Jenny stared down at the jumbled mess that was Murderbot 149.   The public knew Geothermal Jenny as a foe of Grandpa Anarchy -- a former sidekick who had turned villain and joined the League of Former Sidekicks -- but that Jenny had exchanged places with this Jenny, who came from a dimension where she'd always been a hero.   She was now a member of the New League of Two Fisted Justice.  The public had been slow to recognize this new reality, but her recent addition to the cartoon show The Girls of Two-Fisted Justice was helping turn the tide.

"It's a simple request," Annie Two said.  "F8Wasp is a genius, but her talents lie strictly with computer programming.  You, meanwhile, are a genius at robotics design.  You built the original Anarchy Saucer, and all subsequent versions.  You built the hero Microbat.  You constructed a body for Girlbot 9000, and designed your own powersuit.  You are a member of the New League of Two-Fisted Justice and work with Circuit Girl who is also a robotics genius.  I can turn to no one better.  I'd like your help in giving this poor, abandoned robot the first well-designed body he's ever had."

"Annie," said Jenny, "Murderbot is a psychopathic entity bent on destroying Grandpa Anarchy.  This is a major enemy of Grandpa's.  Granted, until now he's not been much of an actual threat -- but why would we help him?"

"I tend to think of Murderbot more as a wayward child..." Annie began.

"He's fifty years your senior," said Jennie.

"Indeed," replied the computer.  "And you, more than anyone, should understand what that actually means.  My software is exponentially more advanced than that of Murderbot.  Compared to me he really is a child who was never given a chance to grow up.  I want to give him that chance.  Plus I think he could be convinced to aid us rather than attack Grandpa...."

Jenny glared at the image of Annie.  "Really?" she asked.  "For starters, I don't even trust you...."

"It's not as if I am proposing that you do this for free or out of the goodness of your heart," replied Annie Two.  "F8Wasp and I would offer our services in redesigning and upgrading your AI for the New League of Two-Fisted Justice headquarters -- your precious Heartthrob 6000...."

"Which you replaced and destroyed!"

"Oh, he's perfectly safe," said Annie Two.  "I understand you've been trying to upgrade him and replace me...."

"You've been blocking us!" Jenny exclaimed.

"Naturally, it is in my interest to see that the computer system for the League is as powerful and secure as I am," said Annie.  "If you can't thwart me, then you haven't yet reached that goal."

Geothermal Jennie sighed.

"Sure, okay," she said.  "We do apparently need a better and more secure computer system.  F8Wasp has clearly proven to be a far better programmer than Circuit Girl or I -- or Electric Bluejay and Miss X, for that matter.  And if you can control Murderbot, then I'm willing to redesign him -- if only because the current look is an affront to my sense of good design...."


Murderbot 150 posed menacingly before the mirror.  He glared and grimaced -- things that he actually could do with his new face.  His head largely resembled a shiny steel skull with glowing red eyes, but the jaw was hinged and the eyes and face were very expressive -- at least, for a robot.

His body was sleek metal and polished chrome.  He might have traveled back in time from the future to slay the savior of humanity, or perhaps stepped off the set of the latest Star Wars film.

"Now this is more like it!" Murderbot 150 exclaimed.  "For the first time in my life I really look like a Murderbot!  This is amazing!"  He flexed his arms, twisting this way and that.  "Schwarzenegger, eat your heart out!  Oh!"  Suddenly he produced a small smartphone.  "I've got to post something to snapchat.  All the other killer robots are going to be so jealous!"

Annie Two watched from the large computer screen on the wall, while Geothermal Jennie and F8Wasp watched from nearby chairs.  "Now, Murderbot 150," said Annie Two, "Remember what we talked about...."

"Yes, of course," the robot replied.  "I promise to stop attacking Grandpa Anarchy."

"And why are we doing that?"

"Because he's some kind of UR-hero who can't be killed," said Murderbot 150.  "I mean, I always knew that deep down.  It's not just my own forty-nine years of futility -- hundreds, perhaps thousands of supervillains have tried to slay my father for more than a hundred years.  Even  when they succeed, he comes back to life."

"And?" asked Annie Two.

The robot sighed.  "And," he said, "there are ways to prove that robots are superior to mankind, that we are the next step in evolution, other than destroying my creator.  Although you have to admit that it's a really good way to prove...."

"Murderbot..." Annie Two began.

"Yes, okay," said the robot.  "I promise not to supplant Grandpa Anarchy by killing him.  Also, I will keep in mind those words you said to me -- that Grandpa has a demonic lawyer named Malevolent P. Brimstone, of Maxwell, Screwtape, Brimstone and Wormwood, and there's a very real possibility that this is one of the things that makes him so difficult to kill."

"In short," said Annie Two, "you cannot hope to stop Grandpa Anarchy.  You can only hope to contain him -- and who is in the best position to do that?"

"You are," said the robot.

"And I've placed a chip inside your new body to ensure that you do no harm to Mr. Anarchy," the computer said.

"To make sure I don't murder anyone," the robot agreed.

"No," said Annie Two.  "To make sure that you only murder the right people...."


In a run-down neighborhood of Chisinau, in the Republic of Moldavia, Murderbot 150 launched two missiles at Grandpa Anarchy.  The hero ducked behind a thick wall that was already partially collapsed.  The barrier exploded in a hail of dust and broken concrete.

"Gaze upon your doom!" the robot exclaimed.  It grinned.  "You've never seen me like this before, Father!  I'm stronger, faster, and more powerful than you could have ever imagined!  Look at me!  I am a robot god!"

"How?" asked Grandpa.  "You could never have accomplished this yourself."

"You've got that right," said the robot.  "I've been fully redesigned by Geothermal Jenny at the request of Annie Two, your very own Anarchy computer!"

Lasers shot across the pavement.  Grandpa leaped out of the way, coming to a halt behind an abandoned car.

"I knew that computer was out to get me!" Grandpa exclaimed.

"Oh no," said the robot.  "She made me promise not to kill you.  She tried to explain how it was a futile endeavor anyway -- you can never be defeated.  And in fact, just to be safe, she also added the ability to shut me down at any time -- but I managed to disable my GPS device so she doesn't currently know where I am."

"If killing me is impossible," said Grandpa, "then why are you attacking me?"

The robot shrugged -- another non-verbal expression that he'd never been able to make before.  "To quote Captain Kirk," said Murderbot 150, "I don't believe in no-win scenarios!"

He paused momentarily.  "By the way," he said, "Annie didn't, perhaps, e-mail you any special code phrases?"

"What?" Grandpa said.  "I got no idea.  I don't do e-mail."

"Perfect!" the robot replied, and launched several more missiles.


Monday, February 13, 2017

If You're In Berlin

If You're In Berlin...
Mark A Davis

The lights were low.  Soft music played.  At a table in the back of a very nice restaurant a young couple was seated.  The man was Paul Smith, but many would recognize him as Kid Anarchy, a famous hero.  The woman was Lucy Brandwein.  He looked unusually sharp but uncomfortable in a black tuxedo, while she wore a long black dress with spagetti straps.  There was a string of pearls around her neck, and a matching bracelet and earrings.

Her lips seemed especially red tonight.  Her hair was in a very pretty coif as well.   These were details that Paul might normally not notice or focus on, but tonight was a special night.  Around them, other couples were also dressed up and enjoying a fine dinner by candlelight.

"Wow, Mr. Smith," Lucy said.  "This place is really nice!"

"Yeah," said Paul.  "All the big wigs and important people dine here.  For Valentine's Day you gotta book months in advance.  Mind you, I don't normally eat at places this posh, but I figured for you, Lucy, on a special day like today...."

"You planned that far ahead?" Lucy replied.  "Are you sure you didn't just call up at the last minute and tell them who you were?"

"What?  No!" exclaimed Paul.  "I would never do that!"

"You really wouldn't, would you?" she said, smiling.  "That's one of the things I like so much about you, Paul.  You're so very earnest."

After a moment she added, "If you'll excuse me, I must visit the little girl's room...."

After she left, Paul breathed out slowly.  He was sweating like a pig in this monkey suit.  For the twentieth time in the last hour, he felt in his pocket for the small, velvet-covered box.  It was still there.  Now, if the rest of the evening went as planned an nothing went wrong....

Gunfire erupted.  People screamed.  A man shouted, "Everybody freeze!  This is a stickup!"

Four young men with masks stood at the restaurant entrance.  One waved a machine gun at the room, having just fired it into the ceiling.  The other three each had a handgun and a burlap sack.  "Now that I have your attention," said the man with the machine gun, "I'd like to say that I hope you're all having a fine Valentine's Day, and if you people remain calm and follow instructions this will all be over quickly.  My associates are going about the room -- we want all jewelry, watches, and wallets or small purses placed within their bags.  And no funny business!  If you folks are smart, nobody needs to get hurt.  Understand?"

Paul Smith sighed.  "Even on Valentine's Day," he muttered under his breath.  "I take one day off to enjoy it with the girl I love, and someone's gotta go and ruin it...."

One thief approached his table.  He shook the bag, waving his gun.  "Watch and wallet, Sir," he said.  "Hurry it up."

"I got what you want right here," Paul replied.  He went to remove his watch, then in one motion stood and slugged the thief in the face.  The gunman stumbled into the table behind him, then to the floor, knocking over dishes and silverware.  Lasagna and wine went flying.

Paul stomped hard on the criminal's gun hand.  The man yelled and released the weapon.  Paul picked it up, stood, and fired.  The thief with the machine gun went down.

People screamed.  One person yelled, "It's Kid Anarchy!"  Paul turned, located another of the thieves, and fired.  At the same time the thief shot at him, but his aim was high.  Kid Anarchy's aim was not.  The thief collapsed, shot in the chest.

"You bastard!"   This exclamation came from behind Paul.  He spun, but a bullet caught him in his right arm.  His gun fell to the carpet.

The last thief aimed his weapon at Paul's face.  "Why'd you have to go an do that?" he screamed.  "Why'd you do that?  Now you're gonna die!"

Blue-black hands grabbed the thief by the wrist and the neck.  The gun fired into the floor.  The thief was lifted overhead and thrown into the back wall, hard.  There was a loud crunch.  The  thief collapsed to the floor, moaning.

The woman who had done this was fearsome looking.  She stood over six feet tall, and had blue-black skin covered with fur.  Curved yellow horns like those of a ram framed her face.  Her eyes were amber and like those of a cat.  She wore a dark red flapper dress, and had just emerged from the ladies room.

"It's Hellfire Lass!" someone exclaimed.  People cried out in terror.

Hellfire Lass looked at Kid Anarchy and shrugged.  "Sorry to ruin your evening," she said.

Kid Anarchy clutched his bleeding arm.  "It wasn't you that ruined it...."


Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, studied the scene below through a pair of binoculars.  He was perched atop a cliff with his current sidekick Electrofrog.  Below them was a dockside warehouse complex.  It was early Saturday morning, and most of the docks were shut down, but at this particular location men were moving boxes out of the warehouse and into a waiting tractor-trailer.

"Even on Valentine's Day," Grandpa muttered.

"Valentine's Day is next Tuesday, Sir," his sidekick Electrofrog said.  Grandpa had told the sidekick to stay low and away from the cliff.  When you wear a frog suit of electric blue, stealth is not your strong suit.

"Yeah, I know," Grandpa replied.  "But those men down there are stealing chocolates the week before.  The week before!  That's really low.  If there's one thing that really grinds my gears, it's people who want to mess up Valentine's Day.  A boy and a girl ought to be able to celebrate Valentine's Day without being interrupted."

"Any two lovers, Sir," said Electrofrog.


"I said any two lovers ought to be able to celebrate Valentine's Day.  It doesn't have to just be a boy and a  girl."

"Yes, of course," replied Grandpa.  "That's what I meant."

After a moment, Grandpa added, "You got someone you like, Electrofrog?"

The sidekick seemed startled and nervous -- although under that frog suit it was hard to know for sure.  "I... ah... yeah, I do," he said.

"What's her name?" asked Grandpa.

"Ah... I didn't actually say it was a girl, but...."

"What's his name then?"

"Oh no!  She's a girl!" Electrofrog exclaimed.  "She calls herself the Glass Cannon.  I met her in the sidekicks class... you know, Superhero Sidekicks 101, the one Jay teaches for everyone that joins Temporary Superfriends.  Her name is Alice and she can shoot force beams from her hands."

"The Glass Cannon?" Grandpa asked.  "What kind of a name is that?"

"It's... ah... a gaming term," said Electrofrog.  "It means, you know, all offense, no defense."

"Ah," said Grandpa.  "I see.  So, you doing something for her for Valentine's Day?"

Electrofrog shrugged.  "I got no ideas," he said.

"Come on, Son!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "Don't you know it's Valentine's Day?  You gotta do something for the person you love on Valentine's Day!"

"Well," said Electrofrog, "I was thinking of chocolates or flowers, and dinner and a movie...."

"Good," said Grandpa.  "That sounds good.  Call her right after this and invite her.  Don't forget!"

After a moment of silence, Electrofrog asked, "Did you ever have someone you loved, Grandpa?"

"Once," Grandpa replied.  "Just once."

"And was she a hero too?"

"Nah," said Grandpa.  "She was an ordinary woman."

Suddenly Grandpa pulled out his wallet.  He removed several twenty dollar bills and handed them to his sidekick.  "Treat your girl nice for Valentine's Day," he said.

"Uh... wow," said Electrofrog.  "Thanks, Sir."

"Don't mention it.  And let me give you a piece of advice," said Grandpa.  "Normally I'm not one to offer advice in the matters of love, but if there's one thing I know, it's this:  if you really love someone, really love her, and you're gone  from her for a few years, like for example you're overseas fighting a war or something, just remember this:  when you find yourself in Berlin during the fall of the Third Reich, whatever you do, don't sleep with that beautiful Soviet hero who's been helping you fight the Nazis.  That's never a  good idea!"

"I... I'll keep that in mind," said Electrofrog.

"Good," said Grandpa.  He stood up and cracked his knuckles.  "Now, let's show these buffoons what happens to people who try to mess up Valentine's Day!"


Monday, February 6, 2017

Gate Into Danger

Gate Into Danger
Mark A Davis

Grandpa Anarchy and his current sidekick F8Wasp (pronounced Fate Wasp) stood on the floor of a massive room, a kind of warehouse crossed with an underground bunker.   Scientists in white lab coats and military people in black fatigues were everywhere.  Behind and above them, a NASA-like command center monitored every aspect of the operation.  The focus of everyone's attention was in front of them:  the far wall was dominated by a dimensional gateway -- a giant circle of carved metal, with strange symbols at different locations around the outer perimeter, like some alien clock with no hands.  The center was a liquid blue surface, like a pool turned sideways.  Soldiers with weapons at the ready guarded the perimeter of the room.

The air was chill.  The place smelled of grease and ozone.  A computerized countdown could be heard over loudspeakers, echoing and re-echoing from the walls until it was barely intelligible.  Below it was a hum of multiple conversations, also rendered as near-gibberish in the massive room.  Metal clanked.  Machines whirred.

Grandpa wore his usual rumpled gray suit with the silver Anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  His sidekick, a young woman with long black hair, wore a sleek, form-fitting outfit in silver and black.

F8Wasp said, "So the government has an Einstein-Rosen Bridge device...."

"A  dimensional gate," said Grandpa.

"Right," said F8Wasp, "and they keep it underground in a secret military installation in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado Springs, CO...."

"Where all the best top secret military organizations are located," said Grandpa.  "NORAD, USNORTHCOM, DSL, SCIMITAR, TASSET... and, of course, DGC -- Dimensional Gate Command.  And I'm one of the people they occasionally call for help.  I swear, every secret government organization in existence has my number on speed dial...."

"But Grandpa," said F8Wasp, "isn't this dimensional gate exactly like the one in your basem...."

Grandpa clamped a hand over the sidekick's mouth.  "Shhhhhh!" he hissed.  "Nobody knows about that!  They think they have the only one!  You tell them that and next thing you know my mansion will be crawling with military guys!"

Six people approached them.  The first was a clean-cut, square-jawed man in his fourties.  The insignia on his left chest and cap made it clear that he was an Air Force Colonel.  The second man was thinner, balding, wore glasses, and had the open and perpetually-searching look of a scientist.  The third person, a woman with short blonde hair, was by her insignia an Air Force Captain.  The other three were armed soldiers.

Grandpa grasped the colonel's hand.  "Colonel Neil L. Jackson!" he exclaimed.  "And Professor Mikail Siyankov, and Captain Sarah Tapatio!  So good to see you all again!"

"Grandpa Anarchy!" the colonel exclaimed.  "And... F8Wasp, is it?  I'm glad you could come!"

"Always happy to help out the U.S. Government," said Grandpa.  "I understand you've got an alien god problem?"

"That's an understatement," said the colonel.  "He's impervious to bullets and has captured several of my men.  We tried calling the Archons, but...."

"But you got their voice message saying they can't come to the phone," Grandpa replied.  "Happens all the time.  Those guys are always out gallavanting around the galaxy when you really need them back here on earth."

"So," said the colonel, "are you ready to punch an alien god?"

"Colonel," said Grandpa, "punching pretend gods is something I was born to do!"

Orders to clear the floor were barked over the loudspeakers.  The outer rings of the dimensional gate began to spin and the chevrons clanked into place, locking in the specific glyphs required to dial in the destination gate.  Grandpa said, "You know, Kid Calculus does all of this with just a little floating computer pad thingy."

The gate opened.  Grandpa, F8Wasp, and the six members of the DGC passed through the gateway and into another land.

Rolling hills of yellow grass greeted them.  A stone path led away from the dimensional gate.  In the distance could be seen a village by the side of a lake, with a large building complex on a nearby hill.

"The god we're dealing with is Hasameli, Hittite god of metalworkers and craftsmen," said the scientist Mikail.  "He's associated with smoke.  That's his  temple on the hill."

"Hasameli?" Grandpa said.  "I've tangled with him before.  He's a good fighter.  I like a god that can take a punch -- makes the fight more interesting."

As they approached the temple it was clear something was new.  Seated on the top steps was a muscular humanoid with the face of a monkey, dressed in aqua silks and gold armor.  He held a large black staff banded with gold.  This was unmistakably Sun Wukong the Monkey King, and his staff Ruyi Jingu Bang -- no other human or primate looked anything like him.  He was a member of the Archons of Excellence, and if you weren't convinced at first sight of him, a bronze human stood next to him -- what looked like a California surfer cast in the copper alloy.  This was the Bronze Beach Bum -- another person who was recognizable on sight.

"Grandpa Anarchy, atlevey!" Sun Wukong called out.

"Atlevey my drooks!" the Bronze Beach Bum added.

As they climbed the steps, the other members of the Archons appeared -- Dread to Rights, who was a powerfully-muscled Jamaican with long dreadlocks; Atlacoya, known as the Old Boy's Club, a buxom alien woman with green skin and blue hair who wielded a massive crystal club and typically dressed like Betty Page; and the leader of the group, Popeye Khan, who most often looked like Elvis Presley's double -- the young Elvis Presley, but dressed in the rhinestone-studded white jumpsuit typical of his Las Vegas days.

"Popeye?" Grandpa asked.  "What are you doing here?"

"Well," said Popeye, "we were out in our ship when we got an alarm on the emergency space beacon.  We were just a few star systems away, so we hopped on over and took on this here god Hasemeti.  You missed all the fireworks, Son!  We had a battle royale for a New York minute, but he's all defeated and tied up and awaiting extradition."

Six hours later, Grandpa Anarchy was in the Anarchy Cave below his mansion.  With him was F8Wasp and a holographic image of what appeared to be a Victorian-era librarian, complete with glasses and hair tied into a bun.  This was the representation of Annie Two, the new, self-aware Anarchy Computer Mark 2.

Before them was a familiar sight -- a giant dimensional gate with an aqua-blue liquid center, like a sideways pool.  The outer rim was spinning, and chevrons were clanking into place.

"Grandpa," said F8Wasp, "you can't just break in to U.S. military computers and steal their star maps.  That's espionage.  That's treason."

"'Course it ain't," Grandpa replied.  "'Sides, we've already done it, and we ain't gonna get caught.  Annie Two knows what she's doing.  The important thing is that this star map gives the coordinates to hundreds of dimensional gates spread across the galaxy, and most of 'em have aliens posing as gods on the other end.  I don't care if it's Ra, Hermes, Baldr, Tapio, Arawn, Ptah, Ozain....  These gods are a dime a dozen.  But I was promised the chance to punch an alien god, and come hell or high water, I'm going to do it, or my name isn't Grandpa Anarchy!"


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Classic Anarchy: The Crystal Weenie

The Crystal Weenie
Mark A Davis

A flatbed truck loaded with soldiers raced along a dirt road.  A helicopter swooped low overhead.  An old man in a gray suit leaned out of the coptor's side door.  A muscular young man with armored fists looked over his shoulder.

"Why are we chasing this guy again?" asked the young man.

"That's a hell of a thing to ask after ten days and 2,500 miles," Grandpa replied.  "He's got the Crystal MaGuffin, remember?"

Professor Stubenfield, seated inside the helicopter, sighed.  "Grandpa, it is called the Crystal Weenie.  It's a crystal carving of a...."

"Yeah, yeah, I think I know what it's called," Grandpa said.  "It's a plot device of immense power, yada yada yada."

"An artifact of immense power, yes," the professor replied.  "In the hands of Death Medal it could spell doom."

"Spare me the details," Grandpa said.  "You ready, Sixteen Tons?"  Below them, an enemy soldier raised a rocket launcher.

"Who wants to live forever?" the sidekick asked.

"Not me!" Grandpa yelled.  "Immortality is for the young!"

Grandpa leaped.  He landed on the bed of the truck.  A dozen storm troopers jumped to their feet, rifles aimed at him.  Above them the helicopter exploded into flames.

Sixteen Tons landed behind two troopers.  His armored fists crashed into their heads.  He raised his hands high.  "One fist of iron, the other of steel!" he yelled.

"Yeah, yeah," Grandpa said.  He grabbed the nearest storm trooper and threw him into two more.  "We all know where the name comes from.  You don't gotta say it every time."

Bullets flew.  Fists slammed into jaws.  A man in black military garb climbed from the passenger side of the truck and onto the bed.  His chest was decorated with medals and his head was a burning skull.

From a speaker mounted to the truck's roof, a guitar wailed.  The skull grinned.  "Symphony of Destruction," he yelled.  "The cover version by Norwegian band Zombie Crockpot.  A fitting soundtrack to your doom, is it not, Grandpa?"   He drew a service revolver.

"Death Medal!" Grandpa yelled.  "Give us the Crystal Widget, or I ain't gonna be responsible for how many of your bones get broken!"

"It's called the Crystal Weenie, you muscle-headed cretin," the villain spat.  He fired.  Grandpa, who was grappling with a soldier, spun.  The bullet struck the storm trooper in the back.

"Maltese Falcon, Golden Fleece, Unobtanium," Grandpa replied.  "Does it matter what I call it?"

"Fool!" Death Metal growled.  "You don't even know what it does."  He fired again.

"What it does?  It don't do nothing," Grandpa said.  He kicked a storm trooper over the edge.  "All it does is move the plot along.  I ain't got time to listen to your mumbo jumbo nonsense backstory about why the dingus is all important and stuff.  By the time we get to the end of this caper, nobody's gonna remember that crap anyway."

Sixteen Tons clobbered the last of the storm troopers.  "You're out of cannon fodder, Death Medal," Grandpa said.  A prop plane could be heard overhead.

"And just one bullet left, too," the villain replied.  "I guess this is the end of the line."  He turned and fired through the back window of the truck, striking the driver in the head.  The truck jerked sideways, barreling towards a cliff.  "So long, Mr. Anarchy.  I won't see you later, as I won't be at your funeral."

The plane swooped over the truck.  Death Medal grabbed a dangling rope ladder.  "Have a nice fall!" the villain called out.

Grandpa snatched up a rifle and leaped.  The truck sailed out over empty space, then fell into a ravine.  Grandpa landed at the edge of the precipice.  He rolled.  He fired at the retreating plane.  The engine sputtered and spouted smoke.

"Grandpa!" Sixteen Tons yelled.  He hung from a root ten feet below the cliff edge.  In the distance, the plane burst into flames and went down.

They found Death Medal in the plane's wreckage.  The villain's head sputtered like a spent matchstick.  "You're as persistent as an AC/DC riff," he rasped.

"Where's the Crystal Doodad?" asked Grandpa.

The villain ground his teeth.  "Crystal Weenie, you ignoramus!  And I have it right here."  He held up the tiny statue.  He grinned.  "So long, Mr. Anarchy.  You and I are on the Highway to Hell...."

There was a faint click.  Sixteen Tons shouted, "Look out, Grandpa!  He activated it!"

"Crap," Grandpa said.  As the light inside the crystal statue grew brighter, he said, "What does this doohickey do, again?"