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    The Alpha Trilogy

    THE

    EXCESS MEN

     

    CHAPTER THREE:

     

    Part I - Conundrum

    The Excess Men, powerless with Professor Exhausting being held captive, slowly head to the front of the courthouse to confront the authorities. As they reach the door White Suit calls out to them, “And remember - this is the security surveillance room. There are cameras all over. I’ll be watching. Any false moves…….”

    The Zeroes take note of the resolve in White Suit’s voice, and exit the building.

    White Suit then implements the next step in his plan. He instructs The Access Men to proceed in knocking off the Block Island Bank. “You should now be able to pull off this heist with little difficulty,” he says, as the criminal team heads off on their mission. 

    The Excess Men step outside onto the front deck of the building to find dozens of law enforcement officials, armed with an array of weapons focused on them. When the police see The Zeroes they are momentarily taken aback.

    The Lieutenant addresses the Excess Men. “What is this, Mardi Gras? We haven’t got time for this bullshit. I want you four to get……”

    “FIVE!”

    “…….five - to get out of here, or we’re taking you in.”

    The Lieutenant leans over to one of his men. “Is that guy wearing a belt made out of toilet paper?”

    On the stairs of the courthouse The Excess Men discuss a way out of their dilemma.

    “We need to find The Professor and rescue him,” says Consumption. “Otherwise we’re at White Suit’s mercy.”

    “Well, let’s think about this,” says Methane Man. “The Pisser wasn’t gone five minutes before we saw that video feed, so he’s probably being confined in the courthouse someplace. Double M, go back in with The Captain and see if you can find where they’re holding him. The rest of us will deal with the cops.”

    Maintenance Man hesitates, “But, White Suit is watching. He’ll wonder where we are.”

    “No problem,” says Sarcasm. He pulls a statue of Block Island namesake Andre Block beside the team, and directs Maintenance Man. “Put your hat on this statue. Then take whatever tools you may need, and hang the Belt of Vila off it. That will fool White Suit.” The Handy Hero thinks curiously of the theory as he jams random tools into his fireproof denim overalls.

    “What about The Captain?” says Consumption.

    Sarcasm smirks, and stares at the Human Mass out of the corner of his eye.

    Maintenance Man and Captain Irrelevant fall back from the group. They maneuver around the exterior, and enter via the back of the building in an attempt to find The Professor. The duo searches the courthouse, apart from where White Suit was last seen. They are having no luck, at first, until Maintenance Man detects something. “Do you smell that? It’s grease.”

    “Yeah, so?” responds The Captain.

    “It’s TS-65 M.P. Moly Grease. That’s the lubricant I used when I did a tune up on The Express. It’s a rare, very expensive grease that is a mixture of inedible hog fat and the finest mineral water. It’s made from the darker parts of the hog. That means more durability and greater viscosity in extreme heat. Good grease makes a difference. Why there’s fleshing grease, and bone grease, and hide grease, and garbage grease…………”

    “OKAY! Alright,” pleads an exasperated Captain. “Can you track it?”

    Maintenance Man tunes his keen sense of industrial odors, and leads them to a garage just behind the courthouse. Inside the garage is a large, walk in vault. Maintenance Man turns to Captain Irrelevant, “The Express is in that vault.”

    “If The Professor’s in there he may be suffocating,” says a concerned Captain Irrelevant. “Can you open it?”

    The Tool Titan glares at his fellow Zero for even questioning his abilities. “Hmm, it’s a Benson 400. Shouldn’t be too difficult”

    He pulls out a pair of nuclear pliers and his laser drill, and begins working on the vault. Within seconds he has bypassed the mechanism, and is turning the wheel. The door opens as our Zeroes find The Express, but no Professor Exhausting. The Captain suggests, “Maybe we can track him with The Express’s computer?”

    “You’re right, it’s biologically tuned to The Professor,” says Maintenance Man, who then states directly. “But, it’ll only work if he still has The Excessory on.”

    Captain Irrelevant tunes the tracking system on The Express’s hard drive.

    “The signal is getting through to The Excessory,” he says, noting the reading on The Express. “But, there is no response. They must have taken it. And without it The Professor is fully conscious, but can’t function.”

    Just then they hear a mumbling.

    “It’s coming from the boiler room,” says The Captain, motioning to a metal door off to the side.

    “Step aside,” commands Maintenance Man wielding a series of wrenches at blazing speed, removing the hinges, and prying the door from its frame with his turbo crowbar.

    “You know, it might not have been locked,” suggests Captain Irrelevant. The Handy Hero tries the knob revealing that it was indeed unlocked.

    The Zeroes immediately spot The Professor tied up and looking pale. He is weakened, but manages to speak, “Nice of you to show up, assholes. I got a pee building up in me like Hoover Dam. Well…..don’t just stand there. Bring the fuckin' Express in here so I can hop on.”

    “Where’s The Excessory?” asks The Captain.

    “That team of vermin jizz that White Suit hired took it when they nabbed me at the strip joint by the docks.”

    “What were you doing at a strip joint,” asks Maintenance Man.

    “What are you, my biographer?” snaps Professor Exhausting.

    The duo helps The Professor onto the chaise lounge, and brings him up to date on what transpired with White Suit. They are about to leave the room when they are confronted by The Pisser, and Positive-Negative who is wearing The Excessory. “These are amazing sunglasses, Professor,” notes the evil vixen. “I can sense everything going on…….Hey, it gets Cinemax!” There is a standoff between the two sides. 

    Meanwhile, in front of the courthouse, the other Zeroes are trying to figure out how to combat the police.

    Methane Man turns to Sarcasm. “Do you have anything that can help us?”

    Sarcasm digs through his gag bag, naming each item as he goes.

    “Uh, let’s see – itching powder, book of insults, fake parking ticket, atomic sour warheads, Consumption’s smelly underwear, gross out gum…..”

    Methane Man is perplexed. “That’s all you got?”

    “What the fuck - I’m Sarcasm. What do you think - I’m packing a fuckin’ pistol in here?”

    “You know,” says Methane Man in an illuminating moment. “You really don’t bring much to the table, do you?”

    Sarcasm takes a deep, thoughtful breath and replies bluntly, “No, not really.”

    “I think I can muster up a substantial belch,” says Consumption to Methane Man. “Can you pass some serious gas?”

    “Hmm, that might be tough. I haven’t eaten anything in a while. I’m going to need to load up.” The Man of Odor scoffs down a handful of Slim Jims, and a half-dozen hardboiled eggs from his protein supply pouch. Sufficiently energized, he informs Consumption, “I’m ready now.”

    The two Zeroes unload on the police and SWAT units, while Sarcasm flips them the bird and yells at them, “Go fuck yourself…Shit for brains!”

    Though Sarcasms efforts have no affect on the police, they all crumble to the ground from Consumption and Methane Man’s powerful expulsions.

    “Oh my God, are they’re dead?” Sarcasm wonders aloud.

    “No, they’re not dead,” says Methane Man. “They wish they were dead.”

    The Flatulent One was indeed correct, as every law enforcement agent was writhing on the ground gasping for air.

    “Oh dear God, take me now,” mumbles one of the officers. “It smells like the breath of someone who ate the landfill.” Consumption smiles.

    Sarcasm suggests, “Let’s go back to White Suit, and see if we can keep him distracted.”

    The three Zeroes head back into the courthouse carrying the statue of Andre Block.

     

    Back at the garage, The Professor, Maintenance Man and Captain Irrelevant are face to face with The Pisser and Positive-Negative. It is a relatively even match up, until The Access Men, fresh from robbing the bank, arrive to join the sinister duo. They have in tow bags of loot from their theft.

    “Well,” says The Pisser, “you appear to be outnumbered.”

    Positive-Negative walks seductively towards Professor Exhausting and coos, “You’re a man of power. I like that.”

    “Get away from me, you fleabag,” barks The Professor, scrunching his face in disgust. “For all I know, you’re rabid.”

    She whispers to him, “I could make your dreams come true.”

    The Professor is thoroughly repulsed, “My dreams don’t involve a tetanus shot, and a de-con scrub down with wire brushes.”

    The moll looks disdainfully upon The Professor as she backs up. “Let’s kill them,” she says.

    A battle ensues between the two groups. Maintenance Man grabs his Mayhew Anniversary Punch and Chisel Set, and rapidly pounds Binary Code and The Tumbler in the head. He turns to attack Ignition, but realizes the chisel set is gone, as are the rest of his tools. They are in the hands of Louie the Lift. Maintenance Man is stunned. The Access Men jump on The Tool Titan and start beating him with his own tools.

    “No, not the Kensaw Ratchet!! I just replaced the ball-bearings……”

    The Professor is ramming The Pisser and Positive-Negative with the Express, until The Pisser urinates on the motor, burning it out. With The Professor immobilized, and already in a deteriorated state, they proceed to pummel the leader of the Excess Men.

     

    Unaware of the ensuing battle, the rest of the Excess Men return to distract White Suit. However, the malevolent genius is conscious of all that’s happened.

    “You tried to trick me. And now your friends will pay the price. Look…”

    He points to the video screen projecting the ongoing fight, which The Professor and Maintenance Man are losing.

    “Holy shit,” exclaims Sarcasm peering at the video feed. “The Pisser is holding The Professor while Positive-Negative….ewwwwwww!”

    Consumption moves in and scans the screen, “Hey, where’s The Captain? Oh, there he is – no……..wait, I think that’s him over – no………”

    “Enough of this bullshit!” yells Methane Man. “We gotta help them. Consumption – eat him. We’ll go find the others.”

    Consumption starts walking towards the evil master. White Suit turns white. “What? Now, wait…..”

    Methane Man and Sarcasm race through the courthouse, finally locating the scene of the fight when they hear a commotion from the garage.

    As they enter, Binary Code is beating Maintenance Man on the head with a computer keyboard, as Ignition hooks him up to a car battery. “Yeeeeoooow!!”

    Sarcasm grabs the Access Men and the mole, and shoves them one at a time towards Methane Man. One by one the Toxic Titan immobilizes each of them with a puff, then tossing the villains to the floor with a thud. The Pisser, knowing he’s lost, pees himself and drops to his knees, begging for mercy.

    “Have you considered Depends?” says Sarcasm.

    Maintenance Man starts tying up the evil crew with duct tape. While he is securing them Positive-Negative, still barely conscious, crawls over to Professor Exhausting, and pulls herself up onto The Express.

    The Professor, drained from being held in captivity, and damaged from the beating he sustained, is about to be kissed by Positive-Negative. Consumption spots her movement.

    “Noooooo!” he screams. But it is too late – she lays one on him. The Professors face turns pale as he slumps over into unconsciousness.

    “She poisoned him,” yells Maintenance Man. “Her kiss must be toxic.”

    “No surprise there,” notes a wincing Sarcasm.

    “We have to get him to a hospital fast,” says Methane Man.

    Maintenance Man thinking quickly grabs Ignition’s car battery, and adapts it to The Express. “I’ll get him to the hospital,” yells the Tool Titan. “You guys hand over the thugs to the cops, and bring the stolen money in to police headquarters.”

    Sarcasm inquires, somewhat emphatically, “All of it?”

    “Yes, all of it,” replies Maintenance Man, in a tone that questions his sanity.

    The Zeroes round up their prisoners. Methane Man rips The Excessory off of Positive Negative, and hooks it to his belt. “I’ll boot up The Excessory so it’ll record everything that happens. This way The Professor can download it all when he’s feeling better.”

    “Good thinking,” says Maintenance Man as he tosses The Professor over the back of the chaise lounge. He engages The Express, and drives off to Ocean State General Hospital in the Capital City.  

    Consumption shows up to join the team. He is wiping his mouth with a napkin, and picking his teeth with his Cartier personalized gold tooth pick.

    Methane Man looks cautiously at the Human Mass. “You do know I was kidding, right?”

    Consumption looks confused.

    “Yeah…sure,” he says in a most uncertain manner.

    Part II - The Misdirection

    The front door to the courthouse opens as The Excess Men escort the goons outside. The police are just coming to, as The Zeroes hand the villains over to them. Lieutenant Tenant approaches the team.

    “Well, I have to give it to you guys. Despite the weird outfits you really know how to handle yourselves. You took down all the bad guys and the good guys. That’s pretty impressive….Hey, you’re the team that works for that professor guy, aren’t you?”

    “Professor Exhausting,” confirms Methane Man. “You know him?”

    “Yes,” says the Lieutenant cautiously. “He seems…very nice.”

    The Zeroes look quizzical.

    “The man on the chaise lounge?” questions Consumption, then gesturing to his eyes. “Sunglasses?”

    “Yes, that’s him,” says Tenant. “I was the one who tipped him off about The Pisser. So how is he? One of the men said he was kissed by Positive-Negative. Her kiss is deadly poisonous, you know?”

    “That’s convenient,” says Sarcasm. “After kissing her you’d want to die anyway.”

    “The Professor is en route to the hospital,” says Methane Man. “We’re heading there ourselves after we bring the money White Suit stole in for evidence.”

    “Well, you did good work boys,” says Tenant. “We appreciate your help.”

    The Excess Men head off to the Capital City to secure the stolen cash.

     

    A short time later The Zeroes drop off the money at police headquarters, and head over to Ocean State General. In the waiting room, The Excess Men are solemn in their concern for Professor Exhausting. The doctor emerges from the operating room to update the Zeroes.

    “Gentlemen, I’m Doctor Dathe.”

    “Doctor Death?!” says a shocked Sarcasm.

    “It’s a matter of pronunciation,” says the doctor. “The Professor is in grave condition. We managed to extract the poison from his system with no problems. But it seems some cheap wine and cheese he ingested is destroying his insides. Apparently he has a very discernible physical system. I developed an antidote working in conjunction with his DNA to take care of the effects of the wine and some Kraft cheese.  But, he had a second kind of cheese, and I can’t determine what it is. Unless I find out, I can’t treat it. He basically has seventy-two hours.”

    “We’ll find out what kind of cheese it was,” assures Methane Man, pausing momentarily, and then exclaiming, “The Pisser!! He fed him the cheese.”

    “He’s in the OSP,” says Consumption. Maintenance Man glares with a determined look.

    “Let’s go pay the little douche bag a visit,” insists Sarcasm.

     

    In the hospital lobby the Excess Men encounter Lieutenant Tenant accompanied by an officer in standard police uniform.

    “Excess Men,” greets Tenant, slightly surprised. “I’d like you to meet my assistant, Patrolman Patrick Trollman.”

    “I see a pattern developing here,” remarks Sarcasm.

    “How’s Professor Exhausting?” the Lieutenant asks.

    “Not good,” responds Methane Man. “Are you here to see how he’s doing?”

    “No,” says Tenant. “I was in the research lab. They do some testing here for us”

    “Lieutenant, we need to see The Pisser,” says Methane Man. “Can you arrange that?”

    “Sure, I can get you clearance. But before you go, I want to talk with you. If you have the time, we’ve been working on a couple of cases that have troubled us. Maybe you could look into it, help us out.”

    “What seems to be the problem,” inquires Consumption.

    “There are two critical situations going on as we speak. We have a madman in East Westerly that is creating a bomb. And there’s a business down in Wickedford that has been taken over by three master criminals. They’re hauling in money through some crooked gambling scheme. They’re too much for us, but maybe you guys could handle them.”

    “Well, we usually don’t take on any cases without The Professor instructing us,” says Methane Man. “But considering the circumstances, we’ll check them out for you.”

    “Great,” says the Lieutenant, scribbling quickly on a piece of paper that he then hands to Methane Man. “Here’s the address to their lairs. But I warn you, be cautious, especially with the villains in Wickedford. They are evil, and merciless. They are without souls, and will make you tremble with fear.”

    “Lieutenant,” declares Methane Man, “we’re not smart enough to know the meaning of fear.”

    “Yeah!” barks Sarcasm, who then pauses and ponders.

     

    The Excess Men arrive at the OSP, having been granted entrance through their newfound connection with Lieutenant Tenant. The team heads for the solitary confinement section, where only the most hardened criminals are incarcerated. They walk past the cells of villains that they have captured in the past – Mr. Potato Head Clone, The Ghost of Roger Williams, Pete the Weird Guy who liked to touch himself with plumbing fixtures, Cannabis, and of course, The Inventor.

    Halfway down the team comes upon the holding pen for the master criminal they came to see.

    “Alright Pisser, we need some info,” says Methane Man.

    “I told that Lieutenant guy everything,” responds The Pisser in a defiant manner.

    “Not everything,” growls Sarcasm, as he pins the pudgy crook against the wall. “Look, Sterling, you fed The Professor two kinds of cheese. One was Kraft. We need to know what the other was. The Professor’s life depends on it!”

     “Well it seems my stock has risen. What do I get for my cooperation?”

    “You get to be pain free when we leave here,” says Methane Man ominously.

    “Pain doesn’t bother me.”

    “How about existing? Does that have some sway with you?” threatens Sarcasm, jamming his forearm under the weasel’s throat. “Consumption – how long would it take for you to remove and ingest a vital organ from this bed-wetter?”

    “You wouldn’t have time to pour a coffee,” says The Human Mass. Maintenance Man stares with intensity.

    The Pisser grows concerned and stutters, “I-I didn’t f-feed him any other cheese. I swear!”

    “Listen up sphincter, we mean business,” says Methane Man sternly. “You want to give us crap? Consumption…”

    “No, wait,” says Sarcasm, pulling his forearm back from the villains throat. “He’s telling the truth.”

    “How do you know?” asks Consumption.

    “I can tell when someone’s busting balls.”

    “You can?” says Methane Man. “Is that your power?”

    “Yeah,” says Sarcasm, giving it some thought, “I think it is.”

    “Wow, you really do have a special ability,” notes the Flatulent One, who then blandly acknowledges. “...it’s not much.”

    Sarcasm shakes his head in agreement.

    Stifled by the enlightening, but ultimately unhelpful information they received from The Pisser, The Excess Men start heading out of solitary. As they pass down the hall, they hear a familiar voice call out to them from one of the cells, “Hey guys, you came to get me!”

    “Captain Irrelevant?” gasps a stunned Sarcasm.

    “Wow, this really means a lot,” says The Captain. “I knew you guys wouldn’t forget about me.”

    “Uhhh, no….no,” says Methane Man somewhat coyly, “of course not. We’re just….sorry it took us so long to get here. Right guys?”

    The other Zeroes confirm in a series of nods, and brief verbal acknowledgement.

    “I hope you gave them hell for accidentally arresting me,” says Captain Irrelevant.

    “Oh…….yeah,” ensures Consumption. “Hoo-boy, they won’t make that mistake again.”

    The Excess Men proceed down the corridor to exit the OSP. But a few yards away they are again surprised by what they find in one of the small jails.

    “Maintenance Man?” says Sarcasm. “What…..I mean – how can you be in there? You’re out here with us.”

    The Tool Titan, seated on a cot, looks up with an angry smirk on his face. “That’s the freakin’ statue, you idiots. You’ve been carrying it around all day.”

    The Zeroes are confused.

    “But, he’s wearing the Belt of Vila,” insists Consumption.

    “THAT DOESN’T MAKE HIM ME!!”

    The rest of The Chumpions are surprised as they realize the mistake. They unlock the cell releasing the Handy Hero, who slowly exits.

    “Didn’t you notice I wasn’t talking?” says Maintenance Man as he transfers the hardhat and Belt of Vila from the statue to himself. “Didn’t you notice you had to carry me around wherever you went?”

    As the others Zeroes display blank faces in response to the questions, Methane Man says, “No, uh, not really… (shrugging) We just thought you were tired. Hey, how did you wind up in here anyway?”

    “Ahhhh, I parked the Express in a loading zone.”

    Sarcasm looks perplexed and comments, “They can’t arrest you for that.”

    “Well, they were writing out a ticket,” recalls Maintenance Man, “and I was in the process of repairing a leaky fire hydrant. Next thing you know, they’re putting cuffs on me and saying I was tampering with city property.”

    Sarcasm rubs his forehead in frustration, “You can’t just start working on city fixtures without permission.”

    “I followed standard procedure and took every precaution!” fumes Maintenance Man. “I positioned orange cones and a plastic flag person…!! You wanna know how long it would take the city to repair that? I’ll tell you how long. They wouldn’t have used the right bushings. They would have stripped the hex with their Gator Ratchet that they purchased from the ‘As Seen On TV’ section at K-Mart……”

    “Okay. It’s over,” yells Methane Man, squeezing his head with his hands.

    The team updates The Captain and Maintenance Man on the Professor, and their missions in East Westerly and Wickedford.

     

    At the time the Zeroes exit the OSP, over at the Great Hall of Excess a shadowy figure slips in through a side door. The mystery person walks over to Professor Exhausting's super computer - The Excalibro.

    He types away at the keyboard as data flashes through various screens on the monitor, until suddenly he stops to read intently. “Ah-ha, now I’ve got them.”

     

    The Excess Men return to the hospital to inform Dr Dathe of their impasse with The Pisser, and to check in on The Professor.

    “His condition is worsening,” says Dathe. “I’ll keep trying to find a cure, but it would really help if I knew what kind of cheese it was. You can see him for a few minutes if you want. He’s semi-conscious, but very weak and only somewhat aware. Don’t stay long.”

    The team walks in The Professor’s room, and are troubled to see their leader in such grave condition.

    As the doctor heads off Consumption turns to his fellow Zeroes. “What do we do now?”

    “We have those two cases from Tenant,” says Maintenance Man. “We’ll go fight crime and corruption. Remember, above all else, we are dedicated to preserving and protecting…..We really gotta make a point of finishing that.”

    “You know I jotted down some ideas,” notes Consumption reaching into his pocket for a crumbled up piece of paper.

    “Not now guys,” says Methane Man, slightly agitated. “Let’s go check out those criminals.”

    The Zeroes surround the bed of their leader before they depart.

    “Professor,” Maintenance Man solemnly speaks, “I don’t know if you can understand, but we’ll find the cheese that poisoned you. Right now we have some criminals to track down. We have to go – but, we’ll be back”

    The Professor laboring to talk mumbles, “Don’t…leave.”

    “Wow,” says Consumption. “He must really be worried. He doesn’t want us to go.”

    “We have to take out some bad guys,” explains Sarcasm. “You hang in there.”

    The Professor is agitated, but can’t communicate his feelings. “Don’t leave….”

    Methane Man places a hand on his shoulder and says consolingly, “It’s okay. We’ll be back soon. Get some rest.”

    The Zeroes walk out the door as The Professor struggles to raise his arm to get their attention.

    “Don’t…leave….the Ocean State.”

    He moans in disgust, as he slumps back onto his bed, “Dumb…fucks.”

     

    The Excess Men riding in the Expired, arrive in East Westerly at the location for the bomb maker – it is a small shop named Phil’s Fudge Factory.

    “Alright!!” yells Consumption. Methane Man stares him down. The team enters the establishment where a man behind the counters stirs a bowl of fudge mix. His Jack Russell Terrier lies on the floor at the small opening that leads to behind the counter. The man, stirring intently addresses the Zeroes as he slowly looks up from his work, “Good afternoon. Can I……help you….gentlemen?”

    “What are you up to in here?” asks Methane Man.

    The man, somewhat taken aback by The Excess Men, furrows his eyes, “I, uh, you know, make fudge. Who….are you supposed to be?”

    “We are Superzeroes,” announces Consumption, “and we’re here looking for you. Do you have an arch criminal nickname?”

    “Yeah,” says the man glibly, “Venereal Disease. This is my dog Leghump.”

    Maintenance Man leans over the counter, “Look here VD, we hear you’re making a bomb here.”

    “What? Uh, well, yeah…the fudge bomb,” the man says, pulling a huge piece of carved fudge in the shape of a missile from under the counter. “It’s….the bomb. It usually goes for twenty-five dollars, but…since you guys seem so excited about it – twenty.”

    Maintenance Man looks at the explosive confection curiously.

    “Are you guys going to a masquerade party or something? I sort of recognize the construction worker…” observes the candy maker, who then turns to Methane Man. “And you’re supposed to be what? Like a sewage treatment plant employee, or something?”

    “So what’s in this bomb?” interrogates Sarcasm. “Explosives? Detonators?”

    “No. Powdered sugar, cocoa, milk...”

    The Zeroes are growing confused.

    “Consumption,” says Methane Man. “Can you confirm?”

    The Human Mass nods with a mouth full of fudge, candy covered hands and ring of chocolate around his mouth.

    “Let’s get out of here,” says Sarcasm. “This is a waste.”

    The Zeroes head for the exit, as the man yells to them. “Hey! Wait! Barney the Dinosaur ate all my stock……….where’s my dog?!”

     

    The Zeroes drive to Wickedford to face the team of criminals Tenant had warned them about. They arrive at the address only to find an assisted living facility for retired citizens.

    “This wasn’t quite what I expected when he said ‘lair’,” remarks Sarcasm.

    The team enters the building in hope of finding some answers. They approach the main desk in the lobby, staffed by a woman of advanced years. She peers over her glasses to see The Excess Men. “Oh my,” she says, “is it Halloween again already? Let me get some candy for you boys.”

    “No, ma’am,” says Methane Man. “We are…,” The team proclaims in unison “The Excess Men – Men Who Do Something to Excess!”

    ”Isn’t that cute,” she says, clasping her hands in excitement. “You have a little club.”

    The team is dumbfounded.

    Maintenance Man tries to explain. “Ma’am, we’re Superzeroes, and we came here looking for three master criminals that are supposedly terrorizing this place. Do you know anything about that?”

    “Ohhh, my,” she says, suddenly nervous and frightened. “You came for them? Well, bless you. They have been making life miserable for everyone here. We have no freedom. They confine us to our rooms. They rigged the bingo game, and took all the party fund money.  They reduced the cable package so we only get fifty-six channels now – except in their rooms, of course. They took our Dulcolax!!”

    “Lady!” interrupts Sarcasm. “Do you know where we can find these motherfuckers?”

    “YOU watch your tongue young man,” scolds the woman, as Sarcasm apologizes with a nervous head nod. She composes herself, “You can find them in the Intensive Care Unit.”

    “They’re in intensive care?” asks Methane Man.

    “No, that’s what they call their hangout. It’s actually the recreation room, down the hall there, through the big double doors.”

    The Excess Men start to run to the doors when the woman yells, “Walk!”

    They skid to a halt, clearly intimidated and quickly march their way down the hall. Maintenance Man uses his Armstrong Dead Blow sledgehammer to tear through the doors as The Excess Men charge in. A few feet into the room the Zeroes stop in their tracks. Before them stand three elderly men in pajamas. They are frail and stooped, each assisted by some manner of mobility device.

    “Uh, I’m sorry,” says Methane Man tentatively. “We must have the wrong room.”

    “Who are you looking for?” asks one of the men, leaning on his cane.

    “Well, we are The Excess Men,” explains Consumption. “We’re looking for a trio of super villains.”

    “You found them,” acknowledges the old man.

    The Chumpions are most notably surprised. However, they have indeed found the master criminals Tenant spoke of.

    “We are The Octogenarians. I am the leader – Geriatric.”

    The Zeroes glance amusingly at each other.

    Geriatric introduces his partners, “This is Medicare.”

    The old gentleman nods, steadying himself on a wheel chair, and hooked up to a small oxygen tank.

    Geriatric dodders over to the third senior citizen, “This is Early Bird Special.”

    He is the largest of the three, weighing in at five-foot six, one hundred and sixty pounds. Almost by default, he is the “muscle” of the group. Leaning on his walker, in an effort to display intimidation, he growls subtly, but it morphs into a cough.

    “You’re the evil-merciless that’s going to make us tremble?” mocks Sarcasm. He turns to the other Zeroes, “This is ridiculous. Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

    “Not so fast,” barks Early Bird, followed by a quick gasp to catch his breath. “You came here looking for a fight….and now you’re going to get one.”

    “What?” exclaims a stunned Sarcasm.

    “You broke into The Intensive Care Unit. And now you young shitheads will pay for your impunity.”

    “Look,” says Consumption consolingly, “This is all very entertaining, and we’d love to pal around with you guys, but we got…”

    Swiftly and without warning, Geriatric rears back his cane, and swings baseball style into the left ear of the Human Mass. He falls to the ground holding his head in pain, as the old man wheels a heart monitor sharply into Consumptions shins. He then proceeds to beat him about the head and body with the cane. The other Zeroes are shocked.

    “Are you out of your mind?” yells Maintenance Man. Medicare grabs a bedpan and whacks The Tool Titan dead in the face. He reels backwards into a wall, and slumps down. The sinister senior then flings the bedpan Frisbee style at Maintenance Man. The disc whizzes across the room, hitting him hard in the forehead, and dropping him to the floor in a heap.

    Sarcasm and Methane Man, side by side, step forward to confront the old men. Early Bird whips his walker up and forward, driving each of the front legs into their balls. Both Zeroes bend straight over in agony as Early Bird swings the walker windmill style behind him, bringing it up under the bent over heads of Sarcasm and Methane Man. As the legs of the walker smash into their faces, the Zeroes, lifted off the ground momentarily from the force of the blow, fly backwards onto the floor moaning in the fetal position.

    “Gas these old bastards,” groans Sarcasm desperately. Methane Man is barely conscious, but manages to let fly a brown cloud.

    Geriatric walks over to the fallen Zeroes and says pointedly, “We’re in our eighties, you stupid pricks. We have no sense of smell.” He stomps Sarcasm in the head with his orthopedic shoe, knocking him unconscious.

    Maintenance Man, now coming to, staggers towards Geriatric, but Medicare wallops him over the head with his oxygen tank. The Tool Titan crumbles to the ground.

    Early Bird turns and stares down Captain Irrelevant. The Zero is surprised. “You know I’m here?”

    “You move as slow as we do,” says the old man. The sinister senior citizens all turn and stare at Captain Irrelevant.

    “What are you going to do to me?” asks the nervous Captain.

    The Octogenarians glance at each other for a moment; then break out in laughter.

    “You?” snickers Geriatric. “Nothing. You come near us and we’ll bounce you around this room like flubber.”

    The senior villains meander out of the room taunting Captain Irrelevant, who tries to preserve his honor, “Hey, I’m one of The Excess Men………I’m a Superzero.”

    The trio’s laughter grows, mixed with coughing and hacking, as they exit the room.

    The Captain’s demeanor gets more determined, “I caught The Inventor, you know. Yeah - me. That’s right!”

    Just outside the door, in the hallway, an elderly woman walks by The Octogenarians. They all stop and check her out. Early Bird whistles, as Medicare savagely grabs her by the hair, and pulls her in for a kiss. She does not resist him. When he is done he whirls her away, smacking her hard on the ass, and shoving her down the hall in the direction of her previous heading. Medicare looks at The Captain and sneers, “That’s the way Bogey would’ve done it.”

    The trio hoots and hollers, heading off, as Geriatric grabs his crotch in a gesture to an extremely perplexed Captain Irrelevant.

    A few minutes later the other Zeroes start coming to.

    “What happened to the Octogenarians?” asks Consumption, from his knees, holding his head.

    “I, uh…I chased them off,” says Captain Irrelevant.

    The rest of the team is duly impressed, then mildly suspicious.

    “Man, those old fucks are dangerous,” says Sarcasm moving gingerly to his hands and knees. Maintenance Man manages to get to his feet, only to fall back down again.

    “That’s the worst beating we’ve ever taken,” groans Methane Man, slowly standing up. “Maybe….we shouldn’t tell The Professor about this one.”

    In an animated fashion, the other Zeroes agree immediately.

    “You know what I’d like to know,” says Maintenance Man, rubbing his sore neck. “Why are we even here? Three old guys skimming nickels from a bingo game?”

    Sarcasm remarks, “I’ll say this much. Police intelligence lacks a lot to be desired.”

    “They were tough,” notes Consumption.

    “Granted,” agrees Methane Man. “But Double M is right. This is penny-ante crime, with no consequences. Couldn’t the police handle them?”

    “I’m not sure anyone could handle them,” says Sarcasm.

    “Hey!” yells Maintenance Man defensively, “they surprised us.”

    “Surprised?” questions Consumption directly.

    “Were you surprised?” asks the Handy Hero.

    The Human Mass gives it some thought, and then concedes. “Kinda, yeah.”

    “Look,” says Methane Man, redirecting the group’s focus, “the bottom line is we can’t ever take any action without The Professors confirmation.”

    “So what do we do now?” asks Consumption.

    Part III - Cyber XS

    At that precise moment, almost as if answering a call for help, the teams ExPhones all start to play Tequila! It is the emergency signal used by Professor Exhausting to summon The Excess Men back to The Great Hall of Excess. The team is cautious. 

     “It can’t be Professor Exhausting. Someone’s in the Great Hall! We have to get back there!”

    “Who…..said that?” asks Methane Man, looking around the room.

    “That’s irrelevant,” says Maintenance Man with urgency. “Let’s go Zeroes!!”

    The Chumpions race outside to find The Expired completely stripped, and the words “You’ve been Octo-fucked” spray-painted on the side.

    Maintenance Man is furious, “Those old gangsters destroyed our vehicle!” He starts to head back towards the elder-hostel.

    Methane Man stops him, “Really? You want to go back in there? Focus. We have to get to the Great Hall.”

    The Zeroes spot an available, on duty cab across the street. They run over and climb in. The cab driver looks at the Excess Men and says, “Let me guess. RISD?”

    The taxi takes them back to The Great Hall. Upon entering they initially find nothing out of place. As they check the rooms, Consumption notices a red indicator light on the Excalibro. It is the signal button that summoned them back. He presses the button intending to turn it off, but instead it engages the 64 gigabit computer. The main viewer comes on, and a cyber image of Professor Exhausting appears on the screen. The image blinks a couple of times, as if it is just awakening. It peers across The Excess Men and speaks in a very digital impersonation of The Professor.

    “I am Cyber XS. I am a cybernetic version of Professor Exhausting, created by Professor Exhausting – a great man, to guide you in The Professor’s absence. And by the way – you’re all morons.”

    “Sure seems real,” moans Sarcasm under his breath.

    “You signaled us to return here?” infers Methane Man.

    “Yes. My program engages during emergency situations. The Professor didn’t respond to my signal. However, my system picked up the transmission from The Excessory when you engaged it. My next course of action was to contact all of you. An incident has taken place. The Great Hall of Excess has been penetrated, and the Excalibro was accessed.”

    “Someone hacked The Excalibro?” exclaims Maintenance Man.

    “Do you know what information they cracked?” asks Consumption. “Did you get an image?”

    “I have no information on the incident other than it happened.”

    “But you were here,” yells Sarcasm. “You’re part of the same computer system, and you don’t know what data they accessed? Couldn’t you have at least stopped it?”

    “I am an image created for you assholes,” notes Cyber XS. “I’m not a fucking centurion.”

    “This could be trouble,” says Methane Man. “For someone to have access to the Excalibro? Only The Professor has knowledge of the information in there.”

    “Well, it wouldn’t have happened if you losers were here to protect it,” scolds Cyber XS. “But no, you run off after a fudge packer, and a group of cremation-bound bad asses. What was the first thing you were taught to do if something happened to Professor Exhausting? Get back here and protect the Great Hall. What a bunch of useless….”

    Maintenance Man interrupts, “What can you tell us about the Professor’s illness?”

    “Not much,” says the cyber image. “I only know what happens in this room.”

    “What the fuck,” yells Sarcasm. “You don’t know shit. How are you going to guide us?”

    “The Professor assumed that you would need answers in a situation such as this. I am programmed to direct you to those who can help you. They are The Elders - the men who anointed The Professor. They made him into a great, great man…”

    Sarcasm shakes his head, and groans as he slumps over.

    “The Elders?” asks Methane Man curiously.

    “Yes,” answers Cyber XS. “You must go to Woodmar Kette in the town of Fedgewood.”

    “Woodmar Kette?” inquires Consumption. “That’s an above ground bomb shelter, isn’t it?”

    “Yes,” explains the cyber image. “There you will find The Elders – The Savage Aegean brothers. They are in their majestic chamber they call The Edge.”

    “So let me get this straight,” says Methane Man. “We need to find the Savage Aegean brothers in the Edge at Woodmar Kette?”

    “That is correct,” says Cyber XS. “…there is one more thing – don’t fuck it up.”

     

    The Zeroes arrive at Woodmar Kette, a bomb shelter built as a safe house during the savings and loan crisis of the nineties. Inside they find a smoke filled passageway, with “The Edge” carved into the wooden floor that precedes it. They advance through the narrow pathway to find a small room equipped with a full culinary operation for a deli. It is complete with stainless steel tables, ovens, a walk in cooler and a long, glass display case filled with meats and various salads. Two bald men in white robes stand behind the counter.

    “There has to be some mistake here,” begs Sarcasm.

    Methane Man steps forward and speaks hesitantly, “You guys aren’t The Elders, are you?”

    A sly smile comes to the faces of the two men, as they look at each other. Simultaneously they turn to the Zeroes, and speak in unison with a pseudo Brooklyn accent, “Welcome ‘Men Who Do Something to Excess’. We are the Savage Aegean brothers. You have found the origin of your destiny. Ya wanna sandwich?”

    Consumption yells, “Yeah!” as he makes his way towards The Elders. Methane Man sticks out his arm, and blocks the route of The Human Mass.                 

    “What do you mean our ‘origin’?” asks Maintenance Man. “What is your connection to The Professor?”

    “That explanation will have to wait for another time,” The Brothers say. “Right now we must save Professor Exhausting. Just know this - The Professor is our voice, our eyes, our canary in a coalmine. He has been chosen, he has been deified, and his mission is our mission…How ‘bout a calzone?”

    Maintenance Man is perplexed, as The Elders toss a basket of various stuffed dough’s to Consumption. In seconds all that can be seen is the handle of the basket being sucked in by the Hungry Hero.

    Sarcasm inquires, “So, do you Savages know how we can save The Professor? Can you tell us about the cheese?”

    “Ahhh, yes, cheese. We know all about cheese. Ya want a piece of nice, sharp provolone?”

    “What…? No!” yells a frustrated Sarcasm. “The cheese that poisoned The Professor - just tell us about that fuckin’ cheese.”

    “The poison cheese. Yes! We will summon the powers of the Oven of Fate.”

    “Excuse me?” queries Sarcasm.

    The Savage Aegean Brothers walk over to a large pizza oven and open the door. They raise their hands to the heat from the oven, and chant the sacred word twice. “Boffa! Boffa!”

    As they stare into the mystical appliance they start to see a vision. They turn to each other and nod, as sweat drips off their melon-like heads.

    “We have an answer,” they announce, addressing the Zeroes. “The cheese came from Ocean State General.”

    “It came from the hospital he’s in?” construes a surprised Methane Man.

    “There is more,” say The Brothers. “Turn on the TV.”

    Consumption crosses the room, and turns on a black and white set with aluminum foil antenna. The network is in the middle of a newsflash, anchored by the Ocean States most adored news personality Chancy Cheevers.

    “To repeat our breaking story, the money recovered from the Block Island Bank heist has been stolen from police headquarters. Police believe the culprits are a group that disguised themselves as vigilante crime fighters. There is a warrant out for their arrest.”

    Chancy briefly puts a finger to her ear, and listens to a message from her producer.

    “Wait. This just in. We have an exclusive photo of the faux crime fighters captured by police surveillance cameras. Let’s put that up on the screen.”

    An image appears on the TV of The Excess Men with the money from the heist, walking through police headquarters. Chancy starts to laugh.

    “Oh my God. Are you joking? Look at these losers. Gotta give them credit though – funny costumes. Well, if anyone out there sees these clowns please contact the police….Hey wait, are they carrying a statue?”

    The Zeroes glance at each other, insulted and dismayed.

    “That’s bullshit,” yells Sarcasm. “That picture was from when we were taking the money in. We’re being framed.”

    “We need to get a hold of Tenant and find out what’s going on,” says Methane Man, who turns to The Elders. “Do you know where we can find him?”

    “For that we will have to check the Sauce Pan of Life’s Path.”

    Sarcasm looks at Methane Man, and mouths “What?”

    The Savage Aegean Brothers remove the cover to a simmering pot of pork shanks, raise their hands and chant “Boffa! Boffa!” After a brief moment they look up, “He is in police headquarters. Before you go, take some delicious pizza.”

    Methane Man states sternly, “We don’t want any piz…” But before he can finish Consumption grabs a stack, and rushes out the passageway.

    “We’ve got to talk to the Lieutenant. Let’s go Zeroes!” yells Maintenance Man.

    As they exit the bomb shelter Methane Man brings the team to a halt. “Wait, we can’t go to headquarters. We’re wanted.”

    “Good point,” says Maintenance Man. “Let’s call him then.”

    Sarcasm dials up Tenants number on his Exphone. He confronts the Lieutenant about the false accusations, “What’s all this about us being wanted for stealing the money? We’re the ones who recovered it.”

    Tenant is apologetic. “I know. I just heard about that. There’s been a mistake. Look, don’t worry. I’ll clear the whole thing up.”

    “We’re heading to the hospital,” informs Sarcasm. “Call us if you hear anything.”

    The Zeroes return to Ocean State General, and head for the cafeteria.

    “Why are we here?” asks Consumption excitedly. “Are we going to eat?”

    “No,” says Methane Man. “The only place in here with cheese has to be the cafeteria.”

    The team approaches a food service worker, and interrogates him as to what kind of cheese they have on hand.

    “Uhhh, Kraft cheese,” says the worker, slightly befuddled at the appearance of our Zeroes. “Were you guys visiting the children’s ward?”

    “The children’s war…? No,” says Methane Man, who composes himself to refocus. “Just Kraft?”

    “It’s a hospital cafeteria,” explains the man. “What were you expecting? Robusto?”

    “That can’t be right,” argues Methane Man. “There must be another type of cheese in this facility.”

    “Well…yeah,” the man acknowledges. “They use cheese for experiments in R&D.”

    The Excess Men rush to the testing labs. Inside an incubator-like contraption is a rancid, decaying cheese that nearby documents reveal is being tested on lab monkeys.

    “This must be the stuff,” notes Maintenance Man. “Let’s get it to Doctor Dathe.”

    Consumption grabs a hunk of the disgusting cheese, and raises it to his mouth before Sarcasm stops him, “What the fuck! Haven’t you been paying attention to anything that’s been happening here?”

    “I didn’t think it would harm me,” says the Human Mass.

    “And this is a chance you feel comfortable taking?” inquires Sarcasm. Consumption looks bewildered.

    The Excess Men bring the cheese to Doctor Dathe who tests it immediately.

    “This is the poison cheese. Good work boys,” says the doctor. “I’ll prepare the antidote. It will be a short while before The Professor is feeling better though.”

    As the Zeroes thank the doctor, the Exphone rings. It is Lieutenant Tenant.

    “I just got report that the guys who really stole the money have been tracked. They’re near the hospital in a parking lot on Entire Street. They’re supposedly loading the money in a green jeep for a getaway. Problem is I don’t have any officers near the vicinity.”

    “We’re right near there,” says Maintenance Man. “Tell you what - we’ll get the crooks and the money. You make sure to clear our names. Deal?”

    The Lieutenant agrees.

    When The Zeroes arrive at the scene, two men in ski masks are standing next to a green jeep, seemingly surveying the area.

    “That must be them,” says Maintenance Man.

    Upon spotting The Excess Men the duo hops into their vehicle. The thieves take off through the main streets of The Capital City.

    “We can’t let them get away,” declares The Consumption. “We have to find a means of transportation.” They survey the area, but only one vehicle is there.

    “Quick,” says Maintenance Man, “get in that ice cream truck!”

    “You’re fuckin’ kiddin’, right?” bellows Sarcasm.

    “We have no choice,” urges Methane Man. “They’re escaping. Let’s move!”

    “Alright!!” says Consumption, pumping his fist in the air.

    The Excess Men climb into the ice cream truck, and begin pursuit of the villain. Unfortunately, the truck can only do thirty miles per hour at best. The team rides the vehicle through the streets of the Ocean State capital while a jack-in-the-box version of Pop Goes the Weasel plays on a loud speaker.

    “This is humiliating,” groans Sarcasm.

    Though the jeep is much faster, it is keeping a slower pace allowing the Zeroes to keep it in sight. The Excess Men pursue the villains across the city, to the outskirts, and then through miles of back roads. The chase takes them into a wooded area, and a secluded meadow.  At that point the jeep navigates a huge semi-circle in the open field, and stops fifty yards away facing the Zeroes. The Excess Men stop the truck and exit cautiously.

    “You surrender?” calls out Maintenance Man.

    “Not quite,” says one of the masked men. “You want us? Come and get us.”

    “Cocky, aren’t they?” notes Sarcasm.

    “Let’s get these shitheads,” snarls Methane Man.

    The Excess Men begin to start walking towards the jeep, when suddenly their feet seem to come out from under them. They fall thirty feet into a huge hole in the ground.

    “What happened?” yells Maintenance Man.

    “We were duped,” says Methane Man. “They lured us over some covering disguising this hole.”

    “Right you are,” says one of the masked men, as they both peer over the edge, and down upon the Zeroes. “I had this crater dug just for you. This should keep you for a while. By the way, you might be interested to know exactly where you are.”

    Sarcasm looks around. “A hole in the middle of nowhere would be my first guess,” says the Offensive Defender.

    The masked criminal remarks, “Yes, a hole in the middle of nowhere…in THE BAY STATE.”

    “The Bay State,” says Methane Man. “You mean we’re no longer in the Ocean State?”

    “I’m afraid not. The state line was some ways back,” informs the villain.

    “So what?” states Sarcasm. “What’s the difference anyway?”

    “The difference,” explains the criminal, “is that you change when you leave the Ocean State. Your powers are not the same.”

    “You mean we lose our powers?” asks Maintenance Man.

    “Not exactly,” says the masked man. “They reverse. Consumption can barely eat a regular meal, and it will give him heartburn. Maintenance Man still has his tools, but no longer knows how to use them.”

    The Tool Titan is in disbelief, until he reaches for his saw and cuts himself.

    The thief continues, “Methane Man’s gas is now a pleasant fragrance.”

    “You do smell nice,” observes Consumption to the former Man of Odor.

    “What about me?” inquires Sarcasm.

    “You? You’re still an asshole,” informs the villain. “It’s not a power. It’s a personality flaw.”

    Sarcasm gives a sly, contented smile.

    “Yeah, well what about…” Consumption stops in mid-sentence, and inventories the team. “Hey, where’s The Captain?”

    “You lost him at the state line,” says the masked man. “When you were chasing us he inexplicably jumped off the truck.”

    “You lured us here,” Maintenance Man notes. “How did you know our powers would alter if we left The Ocean State?”

    “Wait a minute,” realizes Methane Man. “You’re the one who broke into the Great Hall of Excess. You tapped into the Excalibro”

    “Ahhh, you’re aware of that. Well, that’s harmless…But, unfortunately we must be going. You men have fun in your……well, if no one comes to help you I guess it would be your grave.”

    The villains walk off leaving the Excess Men stranded in the deep cavity.

    Moments after the criminals leave, The Excess Men discuss how to climb out of the ditch.

    ”Without our powers we’re helpless to find a way out of here,” says Consumption.

    Methane Man turns to Maintenance Man. “Can’t you use any of your tools?”

    “No,” says the Handy Hero, pulling one of the tools from his belt. “They all look so complicated to me. I don’t even know what this thing is.”

    “It’s a screwdriver,” moans Sarcasm.

    “I wonder why our powers only work in the Ocean State?” ponders Methane Man.

    Sarcasm hears a rustling and looks up. “Hey, Captain Irrelevant!”

    As the Zeroes all turn their attention to the top of the hole, The Captain is there peering over the edge. “Hang on guys. I’ll have you out of there in a minute” He ties a rope to the back bumper of the ice cream truck, and tosses the length down the hole to the other Zeroes.

    “Grab onto that and I’ll pull you all out,” instructs Captain Irrelevant, who then starts the truck and engages it into drive. The other Excess Men hold on to the rope as the truck pulls them from the pit.

    “Good work CI,” says Methane Man.

    “Thanks, but we have no time to waste. I checked with the hospital. The Professor is recovering. We need to get back there, and put The Excessory on him. I made some adjustments to the engine on the ice cream truck so it should have some balls now. Before the criminals left I jotted down their plate number, and called it in to the police for an APB.  And I had a caterer deliver. There are some sandwiches in the back of the truck if you guys are hungry.”

    “Not me,” says Consumption.

    The other Excess Men are stunned at The Captain’s efficiency. Sarcasm turns to Methane Man for an explanation.

    “He’s relevant now,” states the Toxic Titan.

    As they speed off in the ice cream truck Sarcasm yells sarcastically, “Hey Captain Relevant, why didn’t you disconnect the jack in-the-box music?”

    The truck races out of the Bay State and into the Ocean State, en route to the hospital.

    “Hey, I wonder if we have our powers back now?” asks Methane Man.

    “You do,” says Sarcasm disgustedly.

    Part IV - The Professor Leads

    The team returns to The Professor’s room to find their leader alert and sitting up on The Express.

    “You look great Professor,” says Maintenance Man.

    “Eat shit.”

    The Zeroes all smile knowing that their leader is back to normal. With The Professor revived and coherent, The Excess Men outline all that has happened, as Methane Man hands him The Excessory. The Excess Men stand by as he puts it on, and downloads the information, allowing him to sense all that has happened while he was incapacitated. As he reviews the past events through his sunglasses, he suddenly breaks out in laughter, “AHHH HA HA HA!! Oh, that’s great!”

    “What are you laughing at?” asks Consumption.

    “You guys getting the shit beat out of you by the Octogenarians. Hilarious. Hang on, I gotta save this….”

    Methane Man smirks, and the other Zeroes are disgraced.  

    “Well, you’ve had quite the adventure, haven’t you?” says their leader. “But, let’s stop fuckin’ around. I’ll tune in the Excessory, you can go out and find this cocksucker, and bring his ass to me.”

    “Find who?” inquires Consumption. “We don’t know who took the money.”

    The Professor looks curiously upon his team, and motions with his hands out, “Well, of course we do. Isn’t it obvious? The money was stolen while you were in Wickedford.”

    The Excess Men stand unemotional before Professor Exhausting.

    “You were down there on a wild goose chase….after some old guys running a bingo scam?” continues The Professor, looking over the Zeroes who are staring blankly.

    He tries to awaken them with suggestive wording. “The money was stolen by someone who had access to police holdings, and the power to finger you for stealing it.”

    The Zeroes are still confused. The Professor rolls his eyes, and then refocuses on his team. He asks in a leading manner, “Who was at the hospital to feed me the bad cheese? Who sent you on a chase out of the Ocean State that neutralized your powers?”

    The Zeroes all appear to be thinking hard, but no one is catching on.

    “What the fuck! It was Tenant!” yells an exasperated Professor. “Lieutenant Tenant! You stupid bastards. I was unconscious through it all and I could piece it together.”

    The Excess Men begin to understand.

    “Ohhh, Tenant,” says Maintenance Man.

    “Yeah that makes sense,” says Sarcasm. Consumption and Methane Man nod in unison.

    The Professor, slumped over, head in hands, starts to look up and addresses the team. “Look, we don’t have much time, and we gotta round up this turkey baster. My readings tell me he is in a barnhouse on the far west side of Capital City. And he’s not alone. Here are the coordinates. Go get this scrotum fungus.”

     

    The Excess Men arrive at the barn where Lieutenant Tenant is holed up. They take cover behind a stone wall located across a short field from the barn. As the team begins to discuss how they will set about apprehending the thieves, a loud shot rings out. The Zeroes drop to the ground in cover.

    “What the fuck was that!” shrieks Sarcasm. “Was that a gunshot?”

    From that moment a mass of gunfire whizzes above the heads of our Zeroes.

    “Holy shit, they’re firing on us,” says Methane Man, “…with automatic weapons!”

    As bullets fly, ricocheting off the wall and surrounding area, The Excess Men are panicked. Consumption yells, “What should we do?”

    “I have an idea,” says Maintenance Man. “Let’s have The Captain sneak in there unnoticed.”

    “Yeah, if he gets in maybe he can give us an idea of how to move on them,” says Consumption.

    Methane Man turns to his right, “You think you can infiltrate the barn, Captain?”

    “I’m over here!”

    Methane Man focuses his eyes, and then does an about face. “Oh sorry…..so, you think you can get in there?”

    “They’re spraying the area with bullets,” notes Captain Irrelevant. “Even if they don’t see me, I could be hit by a stray shot.”

    “Yeah, it’s the perfect plan,” remarks Sarcasm sharply.

    The Captain reluctantly agrees, with the insistence that the other Zeroes create a distraction to turn the villain’s attention, and fire, from where he is crossing. Consumption unveils a plan. “We could shove the statue out there on the north side. That would draw their fire so he can cross on the south end.”

    “Why are we still dragging that around with us?” asks Maintenance Man.

    “We just wanted to be prepared,” says Sarcasm hesitantly. “You know, in case anything happened to you.”

    The Tool Titan is disturbed.

    The Excess Men push the statue out into the open, and the bullets riddle it in seconds. Simultaneously Captain Irrelevant makes his way across the short field on the south side, and enters the building. The rest of the Zeroes continue to take shelter behind the wall. Sarcasm’s Exphone rings as he announces, “I got a text from the Captain. He’s in.”

    Follow up texts come through. The Terse Titan reads them to the team.

    “There are just two of them – Lieutenant Tenant and Patrolman Trollman. They are in the front of the building shooting at you. I am standing next to Trollman.”

    Sarcasm and Methane Man look curiously at each.

    Sarcasm continues to read - “They have an AK-47 each, but little ammo left. And a small arsenal of assorted special weapons. There is some water. I’m thirsty – getting a drink. Looking at a picture on the wall.”

    Sarcasm rolls his eyes, and then buries his head in his hand. He looks up realizing the gunfire has ceased.

    “They stopped firing. They are wondering what you’re up to. We are now discussing a plan to take you all down.”

    “We?!” yells a stunned Sarcasm.

    “Tenant wants to throw a hand grenade he has, but isn’t sure he can reach. I am suggesting that we shoot a flamethrower when Methane Man releases the next brown cloud. That will burn you all to a crisp in one shot. Hey wait, I probably shouldn’t be saying that, should I? This might be a good time for you guys to run.”

    “Holy shit,” screams Sarcasm, his eyes widening in terror. “Let’s get the fuck out of here!”

    The Zeroes retreat just prior to a fireball from the flamethrower igniting the lingering gas, and scorching the area in which they were hidden. Sarcasm receives another text from Captain Irrelevant.

    “They think they got you. They’ve put their weapons down and now we are packing up so we can escape with the cash. I gotta go. They want me to gather up the weapons and start the jeep.”

    “Will you tell him to stop helping them!” Methane Man yells to Sarcasm.

    “No, let him go,” says Maintenance Man. “When he has all their weapons, we’ll rush the building and catch them off guard.”

    Sarcasm relays the message. The Captain acknowledges that the weapons are all secured. The Excess Men charge the building, smashing in through the barn doors lead by the Tool Titans sledgehammer. Tenant and Trollman are shocked to see the Zeroes.

    “Impressive – first you disarm an entire standoff. Then you escaped my hole in the ground. And now you survived a massive fireball,” says a mildly impressed Tenant. “You keep surprising me. We thought you were dead.”

    “Excess Men never die,” says Consumption.

    “Well, you’re going to die today,” says the evil cop pulling a hand grenade from his pocket. “I still have this. And I know I can reach you from here.”

    “That was quite a plan, luring us out of the Ocean State,” says Maintenance Man, trying to buy time.

    “Yes it was. You see, when I interrogated The Pisser he told me you never leave the Ocean State. I had to find out why. Up to that point only The Professor knew. However, I also found out The Pisser had downloaded an address for The Great Hall from The Express when he captured Exhausting.”

    “So while you were hacking The Excalibro,” deduces Methane Man, “we were on that wild goose chase to find The Octogenarians.”

    “Tough old geezers aren’t they?” laughs Tenant raising his grenade to the Zeroes. “In my position I could steal the money without raising any suspicion on me. I mean, after all – I’m a Lieutenant. I just had to get rid of you. That proved to be more difficult than I had planned. Once I knew about your weakness, I thought it was just a matter of leading you out of the state and into my trap.”

    “Didn’t work, did it,” scoffs Sarcasm.

    “That’s unimportant now,” the Lieutenant declares. “Your time has run out.”

    Just as he starts to reach for the pin in the grenade a roar comes up from behind him. He turns to see The Express helmed by Professor Exhausting come smashing through the wall of the building. The Professor screeches the chaise lounge to a halt a short distance from Tenant and Trollman.

    “Enough!” yells The Professor. “It’s over. You’re done Tenant.”

    “You,” snarls the Lieutenant. “My head still hurts from you running me over. Well, I’m glad you’re here, you sick bastard. Now I can take you all out at once.”

    “Not so fast pig bait. Here’s a little news for you. When I ran you over I couldn’t chance you retaliating. As a precaution I took your grenade, and replaced it with a fake one.  So go ahead colon breath - pull the pin. Unlike you, that sucker won’t blow.”

    Tenant is frozen, staring in disbelief at the grenade. He becomes furious with anger, as The Professor taunts the corrupt officer. “You don’t scare me you human bile. You’re a pussy’s pussy, and I wouldn’t give a second thought to reversing your eyes and your nuts.”  

    “That’s my hero,” says Sarcasm proudly.

    Tenant can take no more, and suddenly charges. Professor Exhausting engages The Express at full speed towards the Lieutenant, who growls in a rage as he lunges ahead on a collision course with the chaise lounge. In a split second, with just a few feet left between them, The Professor brakes and cuts The Express, sending it in a spin. The back of the lounge revolves to come across Tenants face as he runs forward. The Lieutenant is thrown to the side with a thud.

    Trollman tries to move toward the weapons, but Methane Man gases him into unconsciousness.

    “That was great Professor,” says Maintenance Man. “You saved the day.”

    “I knew that cocksucker was dirty the second I met him. More importantly I knew you assholes would get yourselves in a tight spot,” says The Professor, maneuvering The Express next to Tenant, and tossing his cigar butt on him. “I should do wheelies on his face…Tie them up. I called the department of Internal Affairs. They’re on their way to pick up this excrement.”

    “Pretty sharp switching the grenade on Tenant,” observes Consumption, who tosses the hand bomb out the window. As the grenade hits the grounds it explodes with a force that sends the Excess Men diving to the floor for cover. In horror they look over to Professor Exhausting, who sits unflinched on The Express.

    “I was bluffing,” informs their leader bluntly.

    “What!” yells Sarcasm. “You crazy motherfucker!”

    “We could have been killed!” exclaims Methane Man.

    “Come on,” says the Professor in an assured, calming manner as he heads for the door. “Let’s go have some ice cream.”

    The Excess Men all glance at each other in confusion, and then slowly smile. They stand up and follow their leader out to the ice cream truck.

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