"Fortune Quest" Part 2/3
Written by Crazy Ivan
Edited by Tomb Raider
Ted Reilly and John Carter stop at a Circle-Eleven to stock up on supplies for their trip. The fortune cookie message, 'Help! I'm being held captive in a fortune cookie warehouse!' came from a local Wok-N-Garden Chinese fast-food restaurant. After careful investigation (they rummaged through a dumpster behind the building) the duo learned that a warehouse in Springford IL supplies all the fortune cookies in the St. Louisville area.
Ted and John are both on the payroll of the Young Heroes For Hire, as the Scarlet Scarab and Golden Torch. Both men were left behind earlier this evening on monitor duty, and felt that a cross-country road trip would make the time pass faster.
The drive does not go smoothly. No sooner does John pull his El Domino on to I-64 that the driver's side front tire blows out. Coincidentally, this is also the moment it starts raining. Carter slams his fist into the dashboard. "I knew I should have gotten that spare tire fixed!"
Ted rolls his eyes and asks a question he hopes he doesn't know the answer to. "Do you have any money on you?"
"Me? You're the one who hit the ATM machine. I thought you drew out your whole paycheck."
"I did," Ted tells him, "How else do you think we were able to buy 28 cases of Little Hostess snack cakes? And before you ask, it's for my accelerated metabolism."
"That's just great! I have a total of $48.63, which has to cover gas there and back, and you're on a junk food binge! Might as well call Hard Cage and have the YH4H pick us up."
"No wait, I have an idea." The Scarlet Scarab fishes an address book out of the sea of flotsam and jetsam covering the floorboard. "I know these guys who might be willing to help. They know I'm a superhero, so they kind of.. you know, worship me."
"Twenty minutes later the two incognito heroes are rescued from their predicament by a 1969 orange and white VW van. It's drivers; comic shop owners Denny & Donny O'Donald!"
Donny O'Donald sucks down the remainder of his Mountain Surge and compliments his cousin. "Good caption, Denny, but you need to work on your 'narrator' voice. That sounded more like Crank Smiley from Sesame Company than the announcer from the Bat-Spider TV show."
While Denny continues to work on his 'announcer' voice, John turns to Ted in the back seat. "Jeez! You trust THESE guys with your secret identity?"
"They're fan-boys. As soon as I told them I was Spider-Boy they said I could have free comics."
"Spider-Boy!! Didn't they want to see your Web-Shooter?"
"Shhh! Keep it down. I filled a Super-Soaker with Silly-String."
"So," Donny asks John, "Spidey tells us you're really Niles Cable from X-Patrol. You look a lot older in the comics."
"And doesn't Cable have red hair?" asks Denny from the driver's seat.
The nineteen-year old blonde hero scowls at his partner, who is trying desperately to stifle a laughing fit. "Uh, yeah. This is just my 'Generic Kid' disguise. We're on a secret mission. You sure you two want to take us all the way to Springford?"
"No problemo!" Denny answers with a terrible Sylvester Shwartzenegger impression. "We were heading that way anyhow. Business trip. Hey Donny, crank up the tunes so our guests can feel the beat!"
Donny does as his cousin requests and pump up the volume, filling the van with the Men In Batsuits soundtrack featuring the Artist formerly known as Fresh Prince. John Carter decides to sleep through the trip, and kill them both as soon as they arrive.
Eight hours later the van comes to a stop in the parking lot of the Springford Jay Cee's Center. John and Ted both have bloodshot eyes and neither got a moment's rest. Instead they spent the entire drive answering inane questions and trying to ignore the endless barrage of movie show tunes. Denny and Donny jump out of the van as soon as its parked and grab some trunks from the back.
"Now where did they disappear to?" Ted wonders. "This isn't the warehouse!"
"I have a theory." John points to the marquee out front advertising a comic book convention for today and tomorrow.
"Man, we have got to get in there!"
"No way! Eight hours with Kaptain Klueless and Boy Blunder was enough! I'm not wasting my Saturday at Freak Central!"
"But didn't you read the sign?" Ted pleads with him. "There's a Press Conference this afternoon with the JLA!"
John carefully considers this new information. "I'll go get the costumes."
They enter the building as Golden Torch and Scarlet Scarab, and still have to shell out ten dollars to attend the conference. "At least we got in the convention for free," Ted consoles his teammate.
"Everyone gets in for free, idiot! It's a free convention!" Despite his frustration at further depleting his meager funds, John Carter is excited at the prospect of meeting the Justice League of Avengers. He and Ted often talked about how cool it would be to hook up with a dream team like the JLA.
At 5:30 the conference begins, and although a few people give them quirky looks, the Scarlet Scarab and Golden Torch are barely noticed by anyone. Super-Soldier answers questions for about ten minutes, then flies off ("Probably on some faked emergency," Ted whispers), leaving the mike to Iron-Lantern and Hawkeye. Once the big blue 'S' leaves the questions die down some, and by 7:00 the crowd disburses.
John shoves Ted to get him to approach Iron-Lantern. "Hi there, fellow super-hero types!" It feels as awkward to say as it is to hear, but Reilly is too flustered to compose himself. "Golden Torch and I were just wondering if you have any openings left, maybe a reserve line-up we could be on or something."
If the Emerald Avenger has any opinion of them, it cannot be read by facial expression (Duh!). "Why don't you two stop by the Ramada-Hilton tonight? We reserved the penthouse floor, and will be staying in town a while before heading back to the moon."
Dizzy with anticipation Ted and John hang around the convention until 8:30 p.m. and then head over to the hotel. Although they have both worn their costumes in public many times, somehow Ted Reilly's red spandex uniform with blue trim and a large beetle across the chest and John Carter's Golden Torch costume with yellow tights and blue gloves and boots feel a little more foolish than normal walking across the street in the small city.
The front desk is expecting them, and sends them up to the 7th Floor.
The entire level is comprised of only rooms 701 and 702. Ted knocks on the door to room 701 and they are invited inside. Already sitting in the luxurious accommodations are Thunder Woman, Silicon Man, Hawkeye, and Captain Marvel. "Where's Iron Lantern? He said he would consider us for League membership."
Captain Marvel looks at the Scarab with disdain. "What, the rest of us aren't good enough for you?"
Thunder Woman steps forward to take charge and prevent any macho blustering from erupting. "Iron Lantern couldn't be here, but he told us you were coming. I'll be conducting the interview, then we'll submit your packets to the rest of the team for a vote. If you'll be seated we can begin. First item is to establish identity. Personally I've never heard of either of you."
"Never heard..? I'm the Scarlet Scarab! Agility and strength of the extinct Egyptian insect? I used to be with the Teen Warriors in New York for a while, before joining the Judgment League: Work Force in LA. When they went belly-up I hooked up with the Young Heroes For Hire in St. Louisville. Oh, I was also a member of the Challengers of the Fantastic. For a day."
"Any particular reason you've moved around so much?"
"Well, you know how it is. I get fidgety if I stay in one place for too long."
"And you, Mr. Torch?"
"Hey, that's GOLDEN Torch. I came all the way from the year 2099 to find a cure for a suicide gene implanted in me by the Legionnaire Morituri project that gave me my fire-based powers. I can ignite my own body and use the thermal energy to fly and project heat shields around myself. I'm also signed up with the YH4H right now, but that's just a temporary gig."
Captain Marvel snorts a little. He may only be a child underneath all that muscle, but these guys are too minor league for his taste. If they were Avengers material, why weren't they invited to join when the team reformed weeks ago?
Conner Hawk tries to be objective in his analysis. "So what you're saying is that you're a couple of heroes with nowhere to go who..."
Eel interrupts to give his own interpretations. "A guy with the powers of a dead bug, and a human rocket booster dying from Legionnaires Disease. Oh yeah, you two just REEK of JLA-ness! Anyone good enough for the Judgment League: Work Force is okay in my book!"
Ted chuckles a little, even though the jabs were aimed at him. Then he realizes; they already HAVE their 'comic relief' man!
John notices it too. "Well, thanks. Bug-Boy and I can find our own way out."
"But we're not finished!" Thunder Woman tells them. "That was only the first question. "
"You may not be finished," John replies, "but I can tell we are. Hawkeye got it right; we're just a couple of NoWhere-Men." He turns and grabs the door, slamming it behind him as he exits.
Ted stands there another moment or two, wondering if there's anything that he can do to save face. "I have a Super-Soaker filled with Silly String." No response. "Um, I think my scarab-sense is tingling. I'll just go catch up with Goldie. Catch you later!"
They return to the van and change into their civvies. "THAT was a real ego-booster. Rejected by a team that took Silicon Man!" Ted tosses his mask onto his seat. "Why did I let you talk me into this?"
"Me?? This was all your idea! 'Ooh, lookey! The JLA are here! Let's see if they'll play with us!'"
"Alright! Let's just forget it. We're on a mission, remember? How do we locate a fortune cookie warehouse?"
John pulls a torn piece of paper from his pocket. "You could look it up in the phone book like I did. I called while you were hovering over the ten-cent back issues. There's nobody there on the weekends but a security guard, but he told me all shipments come from the factory in Los Angeles."
"LA, that's great! They love me there! Let's go!"
"I don't think the wonder-twins will be too keen on chauffeuring us all the way to the West Coast."
Ted dismisses John's negativity. "We'll just leave a note explaining we needed the van to continue our secret mission. They'll understand."
Moments later they are on the road again. Fortunately for them Denny O'Donald makes a habit of leaving his Exxaco credit card in the ashtray, so fuel won't be much of a problem. The note they leave behind apologizes for stealing the van, but they had to go save the world. Ted adhered it to a pillar next to the parking spot by using Silly String.
Next Issue -- The NoWhere-Men arrive in California!!
The best thing about writing for Untold Tales Of Amalgam is finding out just how many stories there are still to be told. When I began last year with the Big Picture, I never thought this fan fiction thing would become an all-consuming obsession for me! Now one full year later I have two on-going series, and a grab bag full of one-shots behind me. And I'm still deluding myself into thinking I have a life! There's just so much that hasn't already been written in the Amalgam genre that I can't stop dreaming up more stories to tell!
Too bad there's only so much time in one month that one can devote to writing before starvation begins to set in and my sweat pants begin to get stiff. That's when I have to step back a moment and say, "Honey, will you bring me another Mountain Surge?" Of course, she doesn't answer me anymore. In fact, I think my wife and kids moved out three weeks ago. But the cats are still here, so I know I don't smell THAT bad yet!
The downside of all this (yes, there IS a downside!) is that I keep slipping farther and farther behind my self-imposed deadlines! If I'm REALLY lucky, this will make it out by April 30th. If not, I doubt anyone will be surprised. At this point I have to admit that my workload is become tedious. When finishing a story feels more like a chore than an adventure, then something is wrong. That's why I've decided to let the readers decide which comics I will write. The current storyline in Alpha Guard will end this month, and Fortune Quest only has one more issue to go. If everyone would like to see me continue with these titles, no problem. But if there are requests for other works, I'll have to consider dropping one. Do you really want to read more ALPHA GUARD and NOWHERE-MEN every month, or is it time for a change? Let me know what you think.
Till next time, Always Ask About Amalgam!
COMICS SHIPPING THIS WEEK:
AMALGAM TAILS #38
Quackback faces the menace of Solomon Gumby in ERASE AGAINST TIME! Spider-Monkey and Captain Ham team up in New Goshawk City to battle Drakeula and his undead minions in NOCTURNAL MISSIONS! And Yankee Polecat takes on her opposite in NAGNETO SUNRISE!
CRAZY IVAN'S FOURTH HOST #2
The Forever Warrior journey to Apokolips to free Thanoseid from his granite tomb! Will the Asgod of Death help them stop Thorion's mission to judge planets? And speaking of Thorion, Thunder Woman and Thunder Man must decide between the Thor Corps and the Earth! FREEDOM CRUSADERS #2 Where are Europe's art treasures disappearing to? Ensign Jack joins the Freedom Brigade on operations deep in Fascist Italy to find out! But when they uncover Mussolini's secret connections, the face of World War II will change forever!
NIGHT THRUSH #2
Mysterious mutilations are keeping people away from the Belfry Wax Museum! Night Thrush stakes out the museum and discovers that the Wax-Man is alive, over 50 years after his hideous transformation. Does he just want to be left alone? Or has the Molten Maniac resumed his grisly artistic trends?
Ted Reilly and John Carter catch a ride to a comics convention in Springford, and the guests of honor are the Justice League: Avengers! Can the Scarlet Scarab and Golden Torch convince the World's Greatest Heroes to accept them? And what does any of this have to do with FORTUNE QUEST?
THE BOOKS OF DARKHOLD #2
On May 1st the Beast of Beltane will be unleashed after thousands of years of banishment! And it's all because of a young teenager and a walking voodoo doll! Eternity Kid and Brother Power the Voodoo Geek uncover the secret of the CTHONIC VERSES!
Disclaimer: The NoWhere-Men were created by "Donovan" Scott Dempley and myself, but the Scarlet Scarab and Golden Torch are based on the concept of Amalgam Comics. Several characters in this story belong solely to DC & Marvel. I created the rest. The characterization of the Justice League: Avengers is based on the fan fiction of Tomb Raider, who created the 'Conner Hawk' Hawkeye. Amalgam and related names are used without permission. No money was harmed in the making of this story.
Dedicated to Scott Dempley (1969 - 1996)
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