Narrator: Having vanquished the insidious Sultan of Ice, the daring Max Thornfield
and his equally daring Flashpack came home from Antarctica to their palatial
spatial home, the Flashpoint. With them came Furtrace Fuzzbotham, a cat-man
wizard of great skill, cunning and ability…to irritate. In his brief
time following the Flashpack he’d been to Flashpoint a few times, but
entering the home of his heroes still filled him with excitement. Unfortunately
for the Flashpack, they were playing host to another unwelcome guest.
Molly: (fury unbridled) STELLOF!
Slotter: Oh no! Quick! Take cover!
Stellof: (Terrified, trying to save his sorry
ass) Ms. Singh, you must understand,
there are many variables to consider in developing a comprehensive translating
Molly: You left a HAMBURGER on my transducer! I don’t care what you
were TRYING to do! Strontium-79 is irreparably corrupted by the presence of
lettuce! Three months of work down the drain because you needed to do some
snacking in MY- not yours, Stellof, but MY – workshop! I’ll beat
you so hard you’d think the Beatotron had come back!
Max: (As Molly rants bloody murder in the background) At this point, I wouldn’t
be surprised if he did.
Jimmy: With so many of our old rogues gallery making a comeback, it’d
almost make sense.
Drallus: Ah, Beatotron’s a pansy anyway. I could’ve taken him
Furtrace: Yeah, you totally could!
Keane: (nice, sweet) I don’t know, Drallus. You said that about the
Sultan, but, well, if Puck hadn’t been there…
Drallus: That doesn’t count! It was slippery!
(Dangerometer goes off, Molly stops ranting)
Max: Oh, for the love of petrochemicals. What’s going on now?
Jimmy: Looks like a massive spike in ambient peril in southern New Zealand!
Furtrace: Maybe another one of your old villains?
Slotter: Well, The Sultan of Ice was the last one, and we destroyed him and
his Frost Palace, so –
Molly: Oh no!
Drallus: (super-enthusiastic) Oh YES! Let’s do this crazy thing!
Narrator: And so the dauntless Flashpack soon found themselves in New Zealand,
flying hover-bikes over rolling hills fraught with stampeding sheep.
Furtrace: What could have scared them all so much?
Slotter: Probably that.
Narrator: Slotter was pointing at an enormous spiked wheel that was tearing
up the countryside with vicious abandon and a deafening roar as it sped northward
toward more populous areas of the island nation.
Max: Sounds like a reasonable conclusion, Jill.
Keane: That monster! Those poor animals must be terrified out of their minds!
Molly: We’ll have a lot more than sheep to worry about if that War-Wheel
reaches any cities.
Jimmy: Molly’s right. We need to stop him!
Drallus: Molly can stop the wheel; leave the rest to me.
Furtrace: You’re so confident, Drallus!
Slotter: Also so suicidal. The Sultan of Ice was much more powerful than
he was the last time we fought him; Kriegmeister might be the same way.
Max: Slotter’s right. We’ll take this as a team. Flashpack!
All but Furtrace: Flashpack!
Narrator: The Flashpack swooped down towards the War-Wheel, only to be met
mid-air by a powerfully-built older man with a pointed helmet, a jetpack and
a pair of power-gauntlets.
Kriegmeister: Ah, Flashpack, my old nemeses. Come once again to be vanquished
by the unstoppable Master of War, I see.
Slotter: Unstoppable? Are you kidding?
Drallus: Yeah! More like… like… VERY stoppable!
K: (contemptuous laugh) Very nice, Ms. Thornfield. One would almost think
you had a brain to go with your exquisitely violent physique!
Drallus: Oh, it is ON, jackass!
K: Indeed it is, my voluptuous Valkyrie! Let us see who the master of hand-to-hand
is as your worthless friends battle my war-dogs!
(hollow, mechanical barking)
Furtrace: Oh crap, flying robot dogs!
Molly: Really? I hadn’t noticed.
Max: Molly, you take the War-Wheel. Drallus, Keane and I will take care of
Kriegmeister. The rest of you, deal with the war-dogs.
Slotter: No sweat! Jimmy, you take right, I’ll take left. Furtrace,
get their attention.
Narrator: As Jimmy and Slotter tried to flank the war-dogs, using Furtrace
as delicious, spell-slinging bait, Max, Drallus and Keane circled the horrific
Hun and his gargantuan gloves.
K: Bah! Your girlish leader and your spineless scientist will help you not
at all in this struggle, mighty Drallus! You shall see that your victories
in the past have been mere flukes and that I alone, Der Kriegmeister, am the
greatest fist-fighter in all the multiverse!
Drallus: FLUKES?! Eat fist, pointy-hat!
Narrator: Punches flew between the two scrappers, Drallus’ natural
superhuman strength matched by the nefarious Kriegmeister’s powerful
strength-enhancing gauntlets. The fierce combatants traded blows like Sudokemon
(soo-doh-kay-mon) cards at a comic book convention, while Max and Keane nervously
circled, looking for some advantage to exploit against their opponent.
Max: Sweet Sassy Saturn! They’re really wailing on each other.
Keane: No kidding! We need to help Drallus!
Max: That’s easier said than done. We’ll need to strike just
as the moment is right.
Keane: When will that be?
Max: Probably when he thinks he’s winning; he’ll get cocky, then
we swoop in and attack him from both sides. Not even Kriegmeister can resist
a two-sided attack.
Keane: (nervous) O…okay. I’ll wait for your signal.
Max: All right. Take a position over there.
Narrator: The two heroes hovered opposite each other on either side of Kriegmeister,
watching him trade punches with their adopted sister and best friend, respectively.
For minutes neither seemed to be gaining advantage, until a single blow from
the marshal of misery sent Drallus hurtling miles into the distance.
Max: Now, Sara!
Narrator: Max dove toward Kriegmeister, but Keane flinched, filled with terror
at the sight of Drallus flying away. As such, the villain only had one target
to track, and an overhead rabbit-punch knocked Max to the ground, shattering
his hover-bike and numerous bones.
Keane: Max! No!
K: Bah again! Your cowardice has cost him his life! I shall smash him to
Narrator: Kriegmeister descended to where Max lay, broken and barely conscious,
and raised a gauntleted fist.
K: Now you die, Thornfield!
Mr. Banal: That’s my line.
Max: (groggy) What?
K: (incredulous) What?
Narrator: Bone and brain matter rained down from the hole blown in Kriegmeister’s
skull. With a last, stupefied gasp, the German vermin twitched, fell and died.
Mr. Banal: Unbelievable. A self-proclaimed Master of War who doesn’t
carry or use a gun. How was he EVER a threat?
Max: (still groggy) Banal…but how…?
Mr. Banal: With common sense, Thornfield. The same way I do everything. Now
don’t move unless you want an infusion of cold iron (pistol cocked) right where it would do us the most good.
Narrator: His pistol at the ready, the Flashpack’s greatest nemesis
stood over their leader as the other members and Furtrace gathered in the
air around them.
Molly: What are you doing here?
Mr. Banal: I keep a safe house here. It’s quiet, out of the way. I
come here to be left alone. It seems you can’t even do me that courtesy.
Slotter: Kriegmeister was going to destroy this entire archipelago!
Mr. Banal: And we all see how effective YOUR methods were at stopping him,
as opposed to how MY methods failed cataclysmically.
Jimmy: Okay, Mr. B., you win. You’re holding all the cards. What do
Mr. Banal: Finally, a voice of reason! What I WANT, Kovacs, is for you and
your little band to vacate the premises. I personally plan to go back to my
safe house and destroy it; now I’ll need to find a new one.
Keane: Wait, you don’t want to fight us?
Mr. Banal: Here? Now? It’s 9 AM local time, for fuck’s sake!
I haven’t even had my first cup of tea for the day! Why would I want
to fight you?
Slotter: It’s just, well, we’ve had a lot of old villains coming
back to haunt us lately, so we figured…well, you know.
Mr. Banal: Old villains? Really? Maybe somebody’s got it in for you.
Furtrace: Oh, like you don’t?
Mr. Banal: Trust me, you obsequious little felinoid, when I come to destroy
you, I won’t wait for everyone else to jump on the bandwagon. Now get
the hell off my property.
Narrator: Back at Flashpoint, Max lay in the infirmary recovering while the
other members of the Flashpack nursed various wounds occurred in battle. Besides
Max’s, the most grievous of these was felt in an uncluttered room on
the fourth floor whose walls were littered with degrees and awards for Sara
Keane, Doctor of Brilliantology. She sat on her bed, her head in her hands,
Keane: (sobbing, sniffing, the works) Too scared…he could have died…I
let him down…I let them all down! I wasn’t strong enough, just
like… (sniffs) just like with Julie…
Narrator: Without thinking, Keane found her hands reaching toward a small
metallic circlet on the headboard of her bed. When she realized what she was
doing, she jerked them away.
Keane: No! Not again! I can’t run from these feelings! (beat,
with minimal sniffling. Then, resigned) Still…I can’t help anyone like
this. I need to give more. I can’t let them down again.
Narrator: Keane took up the circlet, adjusted some dials, and set it on her
head. There was a glow and a low buzzing as the device seared away portions
of her nervous system, releasing inhibitors for her emotional centers and
turning the world from a tearful haze into a sharp and rational clarity.
Keane: (now the cold monster we all know and love) Much better. Now, the
Narrator: Hours later, Jimmy convened the rested and refreshed Flashpack
in a classic Kovacs Jam Session to try and figure out what could be causing
this recent spate of activity on the villain front.
Max: These attacks seem to be following very close one after the other. What
does that mean?
Keane: A controlled stream.
Slotter: Look, I told you, I think my aim is improving –
Keane: (barreling on) The villains arrive at a pace guaranteed to push us
to our limits and weaken our reserves. The entire effort is very well timed.
All evidence points to a single insidious mastermind.
Molly: Are you okay, Sara?
Keane: I am functional. Now, as masterminds go, our list is very extensive,
but this particular mastermind seems to know the schedules of our lives, interrupting
us at seemingly the worst moments.
Slotter: Who knows us that well?
Keane: Mr. Banal, though I calculate an eighty-three percent chance he wasn’t
involved. More likely, the facts of the matter point to Dr. Von Wicked.
Max: One of our oldest and most prolific villains. Good job, Keane.
Keane: My study is exhaustive.
Max: (awkwardly, confused) I figured…I mean…
Narrator: Max’s apology was cut short by a flash of light and the appearance
of a group of older people dressed in leather, a crabby-looking teenager,
and a clown.
Jimmy: What the –
F-Max: Don’t worry, guys. It’s us. I mean you. I mean… Let
Narrator: Are these newcomers the Flashpack of the future? Will the Flashpack
of the Present stop Dr. Von Wicked in time? Sit in rapt attention next week
as Epic Echoes continues with “Old and Wise”.