JUSTICE LEAGUE

16

Keghead
 

"Yuck. Nasty. Is this gravy rotten, Scarlett?" Crystal asked.

"Yeah. Dump it in." Pinzz answered for her. They were making shakes of all the rotten or old food in the refrigerator...

"Ok. Eeeeeew, get that nasty tuna." Twisk said. It was in the back of the fridge.

"Do we want any sour half and half in our shakes?" Crystal asked.

"Of course." Scarlett grabbed it and dumped it in. When it was full, they blended.

"Why are we doing this again?" Twisk asked.

"We don’t want to waste good...food."

"Hey, X-Raytor, Superdude, Omega, Midnight Chatter!" Pinzz yelled, dumping the concoction into cups.

"Yes? We were playing GI Joe." they said, from the living room.

"Drink this...energy drink," she ordered.

They took it obligingly and drank.

"Rancid." Superdude said.

Then they walked away.

"That didn’t go as planned." Twisk said.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

Twisk looked at the other girls and went to answer the door. It was a woman. "Sorry, we don’t want any cookies, and we already donated to the- Hey! Stop!" the woman poked Twisk with a small taser.

"Ow!"

"Hold 'em up, punks." The woman pulled out a huge laser. She walked into the hall and pulled off a mask, revealing...

It was Vin Diesel/Oreo Avenger! S/he laughed. "Man, you guys are so funny when you're freaked out like that."

"Where have you been?"

"I had to run to the grocery store to get the rest of the ingredients for my Oreo Soufflé to turn myself back to normal."

"Come on, guys, let's leave Oreo so she can get to work," Rosma suggested. "Besides, s/he can clean up the mess."

One hour later...

DING DING DING DONG, DING DING DING DONG, DING DING DING DONG, DONG DING! rang the Justice League doorbell, sounding somewhat like the intro to Mission Impossible. X-Raytor looked up from the TV he'd been watching So Weird on (Fi was wearing her hair down today!) and glanced through the door to see who it was.

It was guy roughly 19 or 20 years old, with dark hair and glasses. "I hope it's not another new recruit," X-Raytor moaned.

"Just answer the door," Oreo/Vin Diesel hollered at him from the kitchen. "If that doorbell goes off again my soufflé’s going to fall in, and then SOMEBODY is going to pay. I need this Oreo soufflé to turn myself back to normal."

X-Raytor decided now would probably not be the time to point out that Oreo's yelling would be more likely to make the soufflé fall in. He got up and opened the door after making certain the VCR was recording the breathtaking Fi. "Hello?"

"Is this the Justice League headquarters?" asked the guy.

X-Raytor groaned to himself, then replied "Yes. I'm X-Raytor."

"Pleased to meet you. I'm Eli Woods. I was wondering--" he started to say, but X-Raytor cut him off.

"You want to join the Justice League? Fine, fine, but let me tell you a little bit about us first before you decide to throw your old life away. First, we work for a city that forgets us two minutes after we save it from certain doom. Second, two of our members are off on a wild goose chase that could conceivably end with the destruction of an entire continent. Third, as you can see, the Hall of Justice is in major need of repairs. Fourth, we have a tendency to fall into stupid traps and/or get kidnapped on a pretty regular basis. Fifth, all the girls are really uptight and none of them--" X-Raytor paused for a breath in the middle of his Midnight Chatter-like speech, and Eli interrupted, pulling out a rose.

"Actually, I was just wondering if Lor--I mean, Scarlett Fyre was here? We're supposed to be going on a date." He looked pointedly at the rose.

X-Raytor stared at Eli. "Oh. I'll, uh, go find her." He turned around and yelled, "SCARLETT! SOME GUY IS HERE FOR YOUR DATE!!!"

Scarlett appeared in seconds, dressed and ready to go. Eli gave her the rose, and then they left. Oreo/Vin Diesel came running into the room carrying a whisk.

"MY OREO SOUFFLE IS RUINED!"

***

Some of the girls decided to follow Scarlett for a while. Mostly Pinzz dragged them along, but they were curious. Eventually, though, they got bored.

"Lets go to the movies!" Crystal suggested.

"Lets see....Signs!" Rosma suggested.

Crystal shook her head.

"Fear dot Com?"

”No.”

"The Good Girl!" Crystal said. "Jake Gyllenhaal!"

Everyone else groaned but Pinzz.

"Yeah, let’s see that!" she agreed.

"Five tickets for The Good Girl, please." Crystal said to the girl at the counter.

"That will be 42.50."

"WHAT?! Where is our superhero discount?"

"At some other theater. So fork it over."

The superheroes quickly changed their mind. That, and they didn’t have enough cash on them to pay for their tickets.

***

Scarlett and Eli went on their date and had a wonderful time, oblivious to the rest of the world. Instead of going back to the Justice League as the date drew to a close, they went to Scarlett's cottage to watch a movie.

"Let's see...I've got Moulin Rouge, Life is Beautiful, Cyrano de Bergerac, a bootlegged copy of the Count of Monte Cristo..." Scarlett said, listing the favorites in her immense DVD collection.

"Whatever you want to watch," Eli said.

So Scarlett put Moulin Rouge in, and they snuggled on the couch as they watched and sang together.

Hamlet sat over in the corner of the room, all alone. He wandered back to his computer and decided to post something on his favorite RPG. Then he went to his room and watched Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.

***

It had been a while since Isomorphix had been traveling back towards the Justice League headquarters. All the while, his thoughts became clearer... and even his gut feelings had returned to normal... almost as if a spell had been lifted.

It all started when I went after Studmuffin. And it all started to go wrong when I began following supposed 'leads' towards my old investigation. Isomorphix recapped.

The grass began to get tall as he sprinted across the open field. The thunderstorm had stopped, but the ground was still wet.

There was the long route through the city or there was the shorter, and more scenic, route - through the undeveloped areas that were still naturally intact. Isomorphix had chosen the latter.

In fact, it is logical to assume that such a timed distraction was meant for me to lose focus on my current and foremost task at the given moment in time - following Studmuffin.

Isomorphix began jumping across logs that lined a narrow river, gracefully moving over the flowing water underneath.

The fact that such a distraction was induced by unknown individual or individuals makes the scenes I supposedly was trying to find my 'lead' in linked in some way shape or remote form to such peoples.

Jumping off the last log and onto dry land, Isomorphix picked up the pace, heading straight for the woodland in front of him.

But who are they? And how could they have had such an adverse affect on me while not knowing? If such a thing happened at all... In either case, Studmuffin is long gone by now... it would be hard to retrace his steps.

Irrelevant, Isomorphix added, Such thoughts need no concern until I have proper means with which to execute them. Rather, what does it all mean?

He was dodging and weaving now, ducking under branches, maneuvering around trees, jumping over dense shrubbery.

Studmuffin suddenly went off without reason. Perhaps he knew something we didn't? But then again, my being lead away from him does represent a want for Studmuffin to be alone by a third party. But the distraction itself was no joke... such things cannot be randomly assembled for mere deceptive purposes. Perhaps there is more to the factories and laboratories than meets the eye... perhaps another angle other than the one about the underground crime ring that kept appealing to me?

The woods opened up into a small meadow, a newly formed rainbow appearing in the open sky above. Isomorphix sprinted across, barely paying it any heed as he approached the opposite end and engulfed himself in the shadows of the trees.

Exothermic reactions and heat induction. What can it mean? They all seemed abandoned and the few papers I did collect did support the idea that they were failed attempts. But if such extreme heat demonstrated in the papers could be failure, what kind of heat was the purpose?

Isomorphix stopped suddenly, frightening a squirrel in front of him who seemed frozen from fear of a black-clad man suddenly running up to it. The squirrel seemed to shake itself out of it's funk and run up the closest tree, making scratching sounds all the way up.

A thought just came to Isomorphix as a memory of the steel-caged restraint.

Radioactive Bubba... that restraining suit was there... but why would it be? Unless... Bubba let off radiation... or heat! Again with the heat! But that means the people that were restraining the Green Penguin must have been somehow linked with those who are trying to keep me away from Studmuffin. But for what purpose?

Isomorphix's eyes suddenly widened with a memory that had awed him not too long ago. And the implications of what it could mean.

No... could it possibly mean...? I must get to the HQ at once! Isomorphix thought and leapt forward, wasting no time as he exploded into a sprint from standstill.

CRAACCK -- BOOM!

The tree in front of him exploded! Gone! Isomorphix jumped back, falling to his knees, his black trench coat billowing around him as splinters of wood slowly fluttered through the air.

THUD- THUD! Two humongous feet dropped to the ground.

"Now, what's all this aboot? Yer all the fuss? I think I'll enjoy this, Eh?" the towering brute in front of Isomorphix said in a distinctly Canadian accent.

Isomorphix had been right after all. His most recent thought just became confirmed. But it didn't matter. It didn't look like he'd make it to JL HQ alive.

There, standing in front of him, was Jar- no- Keghead.

***

Oreo Avenger slowly took the casserole out of the oven. The Neomatrix Lump watched her from the corner, where she'd duct taped him earlier. He just kept getting in the way, floating all over and trying to eat the batter. The Vin Diesel side of her wanted to do more than duct tape, but fortunately for Neomatrix, Oreo Avenger decided not to. Besides, it would be really hard to get Neomatrix fragments off the ceiling.

She set the casserole carefully on the table and then took out a fork. Mmmmm, Oreo casserole. Just like grandma used to make. She closed her eyes and took a big bite.

Yes, it was working! She could feel herself changing. But wait, it didn't feel like she was back to normal. Oreo Avenger slowly opened her eyes and looked down.

"MROOOOOOOOOWRR!" she screamed.

***

The moviegoers arrived home, complete with small spaceship they’d picked up along the way. X-Raytor wandered into the room and found everyone staring at a glass jar. He peeked over Raven's shoulder and saw-

X-Raytor sighed, and turned away. The others watched in confusion as he walked back to his room, shaking his head and muttering something about "motherf***ing Helmacrons..."

It was then that Scholastic's lawyers broke down the door.

X-Raytor looked dully up at them.

"They're over there," he said, pointing at the group huddled around the glass jar. The lawyers grinned like sharks and descended on the other Justice Leaguers. X-Raytor went up to his room, locked the door and flopped down on his bed.

Without crime, everything was so boring. Sure, he had always complained about how the cops never did their share, but now that everything was peaceful... ugh. He severely wanted to punch something. Maybe if the Scholastic lawyers held up one of the Helmacrons for him...

He sighed, rolled over again, turned on the TV. Nickelodeon. WB. Disney! No, not So Weird. Even though it was pretty cool now that the fourth season had started up, using the ideas for the original third season. He had even heard rumors that they were going to air the racially controversial "Rainbow" and that, at some point, they might show the lost episode, "Chrysalis." Cool. Of course, Violet had made him miss the climax of the first fourth season episode, "Doppelganger." Thank God for TiVo.

X-Raytor flipped through few more channels. FOX. FOX Family. ABC. ABC Family. NBC. CBS. MTV. MTV2. ESPN. ESPN2. Playboy.

Playboy!

X-Raytor sat straight up. Good lord, it was "No Man's Land 2"!!! At last, at last!

Maybe peace time wasn't so bad after all...

***

Xiao shoved the lawyers out of her way ("accidentally" sucking out their souls at the same time. After all, what evil is greater than lawyers? Besides George Lucas, that is), and flopped down on a couch to watch the television.

Reruns. reruns. reruns. re- WAIT! Was it...? YES! IT WAS!

The Nightmare Before Christmas was actually on TV! Glancing around her, Xiao made sure no one was around before she began to watch, hoping no one would notice her obsession....

One couldn't help it that one loved Jack Skellington way more than was naturally healthy, after all.

***

Isomorphix ran. Nevermind that he was running in the opposite direction from the Hall of Justice; he just ran.

His black boots pounded against the moist earth, his left hand gripping the sheath that held his molecule-thin blade - secured in his belt.

Twigs snapped at him, and he ducked under the next upcoming branch, keeping his quick, steady pace.

Although aware of the obstacles in front of him, Isomorphix's gaze and attention were mainly diverted to the side; his head cocked to the right, watching the rows of trees zoom by.

And what was behind those rows...

Keghead easily kept up pace with Isomorphix, his giant Keg of a head almost grinning at him. Keghead's silhouette seemed delayed by constant vertical strips that seemed to cut him into thirds as he passed behind the trees, his path parallel to that of Iso's.

Keghead continued to grin back, running with his head to the left - a mirror image of Isomorphix.

He's toying with me, Isomorphix realized.

Another branch. He leaped over it this time, landing into a run, a vigilant eye always kept on the adversary.

Better to play his game... it's most likely the only way I'm going to get out of this alive.

Run, jump, duck, run. Another set of branches... more twigs and undergrowth. All the while, the constant grin staring him back from the other side.

They had been running for about ten minutes... ten minutes that seemed to be an eternity.

I need to find some other game to play... at this rate, he will tire me out in a matter of time. Perhaps if -

Isomorphix's eyes widened. Keghead leapt!

The brute jumped at him from the distance, his arms outstretched. A few trees blocked his path, but the monstrosity paid them no heed as it tore through them, their existence forgotten.

Crrreeeaak - Bam. BOOM!

The trees fell and Keghead landed, bringing his fist down in the area Isomorphix had been merely seconds ago. Instead, the humongous fist pummeled the fallen tree, sending splinters and dust everywhere. Obliterating it.

Isomorphix landed to Keghead's left, dropping down on one knee, his sight fixated on where he had been not too long ago.

That was far too close. He moves very fast for a creature his size.

That blow would have killed him for sure, and Isomorphix knew it as he kept staring, looking for movement. The cloud of dust and splinters settled slowly, the view slowly becoming clear.

@#%$, he cursed mentally.

Nothing remained but the segmented tree - Keghead was nowhere in sight.

Isomorphix stood absolutely still, his knees bent and his back arched. Keeping his left hand on his sheath and the right on the hilt, he let his eyes slowly survey the scene.

To the left... trees. Over to the center... the broken tidbits of the fallen trees. Over to the right.... movement!

No... no... just a raccoon.

Isomorphix continued focusing, his attention on everything and nothing simultaneously.

He obviously knows where you are and is most likely waiting for the perfect time to strike. There is nothing you can do to change this, Isomorphix seemed to think to himself.

Any movement on your part could obscure the crucial sounds of movement and would most likely get you killed. Keep still. Focus. He is bound to make his move at some moment in time and make a sound. Any sound.

A bird cawed in the distance.

Isomorphix remained deathly still, only his pupils moving back and forth.

Focus. Focus on the sound that will compromise his position.

The bird continued cawing.

The raccoon scrabbled away, its paws rustling the dead leaves that littered the forest floor as it departed.

Silence.

A squirrel scampered along the tree bark.

The wind made a rustling sound in the leaves.

A cricket chirped.

A boot made a- A boot?!!

Isomorphix ducked and rolled, seconds before Keghead's massive arms hugged the life out of the air in front of him.

Isomorphix could feel the breeze from the move. Keghead had missed by a hair. A hair!

There's no way I'm going to survive like this. I'm only tempting fate to have him hit me... and if he does, there's no way I can survive even one of his swings, Isomorphix thought as he rolled past the hulking figure, quickly making his way behind a tree.

It didn't take Keghead long to realize that he had missed. Looking at his arms stupidly for a second, he relaxed from his bear hug.

"Where'd the little man go?" he pondered aloud, the keg on his neck moving from side to side.

Looking down on the monstrosity from the relative safety and seclusion of the tree he had hastily climbed, Isomorphix quickly planned his next move.

I've got to move quickly and quietly while the big idiot is still confused.

"Come oot, come oot wherever ye are!" Keghead bellowed, making quick jerks around trees in an attempt to catch his prey off-guard.

I need to move soon, or else he is bound to notice, despite his stupidity. However, I can't make a move for the next tree without ample distraction, Isomorphix thought as he quietly tore off a small branch from the one he was crouching on.

"You know, this game of Cat and Moose is really getting frusteratin... why don't ye just come oot and we can finish this quickly, Eh?" Keghead bellowed, obviously beginning to lose his temper.

Arcing his arm back, Isomorphix prepared to throw the stick into the trees on the opposite side, hoping to distract Keghead. Just as he was about to let go, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye - a small sliver of light.

What in... Isomorphix began to think as he looked down on the behemoth.

He was standing still. But more importantly, he seemed to clenching his right hand into a fist, his left hand clasping the trembling right forearm.

The light... it was coming from his hand!

The glow surrounding Keghead's fist soon became brilliant strands of light, which in turn became a vibrant ball of energy. Surely the beast couldn't be doing what Isomorphix thought? But the sight was occurring below him just the same.

Isomorphix again remembered the scene of the charred forest behind JL HQ with impeccable clarity... of Studmuffin tearing the scenery apart with spheres of light. He had a theory on that... but it would have to wait.

Shhheeewwwww.... BOOOM! Keghead let the blast go!

The searing ball flew through the air and slammed into a tree, blowing its trunk apart and causing the remainder to fall into the forest. The resulting vibrations seemed to flow through the very earth below Iso and into his tree, causing all in the proximity to rumble. Animals scampered. Birds took flight.

It was all the distraction Isomorphix needed as he dropped the stick and leaped. He was in the next tree, and seconds later, in the next.

The rumble died down as the last of the leaves that had been thrown into the air settled on the ground. Isomorphix looked back, noticing the minimal distance made between himself and the creature looking in circles on the ground.

"Ye want te play it the hard way, Eh? Alright, I'll make ye come oot." Keghead positively roared. "YYYEAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!!"

Both of his hands began to burn with the yellow light - the luminescence growing in diameter, the brightness nearly shrouding Keghead from vision.

Sheeeww! Sheeeww! BOOM! BOOM!

Two more trees had their trunks vaporized as they fell into the thick density of the forest.

Isomorphix leaped two more trees. But Keghead wasn't giving up.

Sheeew! Sheeew! Sheeww! Sheeew! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Creeaaakk... CRASH! CRASH! CRASH!

Sheeew! Sheeeew! Sheeew! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

CRASH! CRASH! CRASH!

Isomorphix leaped, again and again.

I suppose this confirms their lack of intelligence, Isomorphix thought, making additional distance from the beast as another cascade of trees fell to the ground behind him.

Sheeeww! BOOM! CRASH!

Yet, it appears that Keghead cannot generate a blast as big as Studmuffin could. If so, he would have incinerated the forest by now. Unless I'm gravely underestimating his stupidity. Hmm... perhaps that would explain...? No - no need to get sidetracked now. I must keep my concentration here and now if I am to stay alive to contemplate any further.

Focusing on his task at hand, he landed on another branch, his boots slamming into the sturdy wood, stabilizing himself with his hands, and leaping off... almost like a high dive at the pool. He landed on the adjacent tree, his bent legs taking the shock of impact through his boots as his trenchcoat settled around him. Grabbing hold of the bark to keep his balance from the landing, Isomorphix turned around and surveyed the situation amidst the sounds of flying energy and consequent destruction of the forest.

There appears to be a clearing not too far ahead, less than the distance I've made from Keghead. If I keep up the pace, I should be able to make it. Justice League Headquarters should be just over those hills beyond the clearing.

Isomorphix prepared to jump, but suddenly stopped.

The sounds of energy being released could no longer be heard as the last of the dying trees that had crashed into the ground finished their echoes through the woods.

Damn. There must have been a limit to his energy after all.

Silence reclaimed the woods without chatter or disturbance as all the animals that could have fled already did. The foliage settled again... no movement.

Looking back in the direction where Keghead had made his own clearing and ahead to where the grassy field was, Isomorphix held back a sigh.

Decisions, decisions, Isomorphix thought.

Making up his mind, Isomorphix jumped from the branch, hanging in midair just for a moment where the force of his jump was exactly opposite to the -9.8 meters/second pull of gravity.

Then he fell.

Grinding his boots along the body of the tree, Isomorphix used the friction to slow his descent. Reaching the base, he curled himself into a ball and rolled across the ground, the wet leaves and shrubbery prominent across his back. Jumping up after two revolutions, Isomorphix sped into a sprint, the various branches slapping and stinging him as he failed to dodge or duck.

THUD... CRASH! THUD THUD! THUDTHUD! CRASH! THUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUD!

Isomorphix didn't have to look back to know what the sound was. He just kept running.

Almost there... just a little longer.

The sound of huge monsterous feet pounding the woodland came closer and closer...

Fast! Far too fast!, Isomorphix thought.

Keghead was virtually on top of Isomorphix just when he exploded from the woods into the open.

Still at high velocity from his sprint, Isomorphix dropped his posture; his back and knees bent. He threw out his left leg straight and swiveled his hips, causing himself to come about. He looked ahead at the receding forestline, his right knee on the ground with his left leg out behind him, the ball of his left foot on the ground. His left hand firmly clasped his sheath while his right held onto the hilt of his katana.

Standing there, in all his glory, was Keghead. He seemed to loom over the trees from where Isomorphix was crouching, his broad body failing to hide his hideously gigantic muscles. The creature would have looked stout, if he wasn't so big.

Planting his boots firmly in the dewy-wet grass and placing his fists on his hips, Keghead looked down on Iso.

Isomorphix unsheathed his sword and stood on both feet, assuming his defensive posture.

"Bwahahahaha! So, ye finally figured oot that ye can't run, Eh?"

True enough. If I kept running, he would have overtaken me and killed me right there. So close, yet so far... I suppose I'd die either way, Isomorphix thought, regarding himself solemnly. But there's no way I'm going to die running.

Shifting his katana into attack posture, Isomorphix looked at Keghead head on.

"Hahahaha! Let's end this, puny human." Keghead rumbled, with plenty of what seemed to be glee.

The creature flung back his massive arms and let out a tremendous roar - his war cry itself vibrating through Isomorphix. And then, Keghead ran straight for him.

Despite himself and his inevitable death, Isomorphix's lip curled slightly at one end - a faint grin.

Alright, let's dance, he thought.

***

Oreo Avenger flew out of the kitchen. Somehow, her Oreo backfired and turned her into a cat. A black and white Oreo cat. At least she was female again.

In the living room, most of the superheroes were gathered around a glass jar. She tried to get their attention, scratching at legs and meowing at the top of her lungs, but they just ignored her. Crystal even kicked at her.

They must thing I'm one of Hamlet's friends, she thought. That's it! Hamlet could let the others know what happened to her. Oreo Avenger flew out a convenient open window.

It was only a short flight to Scarlett's cottage. Oreo Avenger let herself enjoy the scenery as she flew. There was the Sculpture Gardens, and the zoo, and an open field over there with Isomorphix. Isomorphix fighting someone. Someone huge. He wouldn't last much longer.

Oreo Avenger quickly flew back to the Hall of Justice, entering through the same open window.

"MROW!" she yowled at Xiao on the couch.

Fred made a rude gesture at her. "Go away, cat," Xiao said, eyes glued to the television.

Oreo Avenger bit her ankle and flew away. She quickly scanned the room. Everyone was doing something, and it didn't look like anyone would listen to her.

She flew upstairs. Rosma knew Cat; maybe she was up here. Oreo Avenger heard the noise of a television coming from one of the rooms. She opened the door and then flew onto the bed.

X-Raytor sat with his eyes locked on the screen. "Meow," she said.

"Hello kitty," he replied without looking from the TV. "Mew, mew, mew!"

"Rwor!" She scratched his leg. Four parallel rips ran through the black Spandex.

"Hey! That was my suit!" He looked about ready to throw her out when the TV made a noise. X-Raytor’s head snapped back to watch.

Oreo Avenger looked at what was so fascinating. There was a hot tub, and some bubbles, and...

She flew in front of the screen and glared at X-Raytor.

"This is the best part! What are you--Oreo? Is that you girl?"

Finally, he recognized her. She gingerly grabbed a fragment out his suit in her teeth and pulled him towards the door.

"What's that? Timmy's caught in the well again?"

Oreo Avenger sighed a cat sigh. Hopefully he'd hurry up and get some of the others to come along too. Isomorphix needed their help.

***

X-Raytor came crashing down the stairs with the black-and-white cat in his arms. Fred made some rude comments, but X-Raytor shushed him.

"Oreo wants us to help her. It seems her Oreos backfired again..." X-Raytor explained to the other JL members, who had managed to beat off the lawyers. They looked at the cat, who was actually Oreo, and looked at the black-spandexed figure that was actually X-Raytor.

The cat on the floor that was Oreo Avenger seemed to nod frantically and move about, hissing and clawing as if to show a scene.

"I dunno what's wrong with her," X-Raytor said. "I think she may have gotten rabies."

Everyone backed away a little.

Oreo Avenger/Cat looked at them and meowed desperately, trying to plead her case. Which, of course, everyone took the wrong way.

Eric quickly brought a bag while the rest circled Oreo/Cat. Taking the bag, Superdude quickly used his inhuman speed to snatch up the feline and quickly dump her in the pet carrier that Pinzz had Crystal go get.

"So... should we take her to the vet?" Violet Princess asked.

"Nah, let's finish watching the movie first," Pinzz decided.

"Okay," Netic agreed.

So they went off to the Main Hall, which was still under construction from the various damage done by both Radioactive Bubba and Jarhead.

Oreo Avenger/Cat looked out from within her carrier, wondering Why me?

***

Raven had gone in for another session with Doctor Lansky.

"Now, Raven, why are you so hostile towards me?"

"Because my parents abandoned me at a young age, I've never been understood, and worst of all, I never learned how to read!" She sobbed.

Doctor Lansky scribbled notes. Raven made a face. This guy really was gullible. That, or he really did think she was illiterate. Well, same difference.

"The Justice League filed a request for you to come due to your addiction problems. How do you feel about that?"

"Umm...unhappy?"

"Is that all?"

"You can't answer a question with another question, can you?"

***

"GWWWAAAAAAARRRRR!"

THUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUD!

The earth seemed to literally compress itself between Isomorphix and Keghead as the distance covered by the galloping behemoth grew in an instant.

Isomorphix stood still, his katana still in an offensive posture. Despite the stunning speed at which Keghead was closing in, everything seemed to be taking an eternity to happen. Isomorphix's vision blurred, the surrounding scenery blending away into white - leaving Keghead's body emphasized against the emptiness. The brute's movements almost seemed slow, as if he were moving his legs stupidly in a dance with his arms stretched behind him. The sounds in Iso's ears had become the stretched beating of a heart - the sound of a single boot making an impact on the ground forever. And within the freezing of time, death reached out for him. The infinity between the sea of seconds seemed to expand... and then, suddenly, it collapsed.

Reality went from slow motion into fast-forward in the blink of an eye.

Isomorphix's eyes dilated as the image of Keghead's massive fist coming down with inconceivable momentum etched into them.

WOOOOOOSSHHH! SHWICK!

...

The breeze that caused Isomorphix's hair to rustle along with the consequent splatter of warm liquid across his cheek galvanized his senses.

He was alive.

No sooner than he had made the realization did Isomorphix notice that he had barely evaded Keghead's blow by ducking underneath it. That, and his katana had pierced straight through the beast's chest.

Keghead howled in pain, but remained standing. He looked down on Isomorphix with a sadistic grin, almost asking Is that all you've got? with his eyes. His body was sweating and he breathed heavily.

All those chi blasts must have temporarily worn him out. They certainly seemed to do that with Studmuffin. I just may survive this after all... The thought quickly passed through Iso's mind, just as he became aware of movement to his right.

The beast brought his second fist to bear and swung. Releasing his grip around the hilt of his sword, Isomorphix rolled out of the way and back flipped behind his opponent.

"AAGGHHH! Where are ye? Ye little gnat!" Keghead bellowed, irrationally looking from side to side for his prey as if dazed, the blade still stuck inside him.

Isomorphix decided not to let the opportunity pass. Noticing Keghead's wide stance, Iso dropped and rolled in between the brute's legs, thrusting his hand up to grab his katana. He felt the familiar wrapped grip of the hilt and pulled, jumping away. Keghead bellowed as blood splattered across the ground, his hand gripping his chest.

Isomorphix looked at Keghead from a distance. The monster was panting, his heavy shoulders heaving up and down. A line of blood seemed to be coming from his mouth along with the frothing saliva. Keghead's frankfurter-thick fingers were gripping at the wound in his chest, the blood flowing between them.

I need to do something and I need to do something quick. He's currently worn out from his exhaustion of his chi. Plus, that wound might slow him down some. However, I'm not Studmuffin... the only thing that can do whatever little damage to him is my katana. However, he is likely to reheal, if Jarhead was any lesson. Plus, I can't evade him forever... and just one hit from him...

Isomorphix let the thought hang.

What did Studmuffin miss? Despite all his efforts, his amazing strength, Jarhead nearly killed him... He just kept regenerating his body.

Isomorphix kept a careful eye on Keghead, who had begun to focus for some reason, his eyes glazing over. The cut began to heal almost immediately.

Overhead, the sky darkened as the rain clouds gathered once more. They twisted ominously, little bits of the dying afternoon peeking through.

Isomorphix knew he should do something... run or act, whichever, just not stand there. But he just stood there, as if something was missing from his thought.

A sound of thunder could be heard rumbling slowly, shortly after a spike of light had gone through the sky.

He's regenerating his body, don't just stand here, Isomorphix thought.

Then it clicked. His body...

Quickly, Isomorphix shook his sword clean of blood with a stroke and resheathed it, keeping his grip on the hilt. Then he ran. He ran straight at the behemoth, not wasting any time for Keghead to catch his breath or finish regenerating. He approached the creature, who seemed to grow in the horizon as the distance shrank. Almost in range, the beast was positively hulking over him.

Isomorphix knew the risk of running directly at Keghead, but if he was right, he couldn't pass up the opportunity. Besides, he cheated death once... might as well try again now rather than later when it would surely take him.

Suddenly, Isomorphix was right next to Keghead. The titan took a swing at Isomorphix, but he was still regenerating from his weariness and wound, and the blow missed by a narrow margin. Quickly ducking under Keghead's arm, Isomorphix ran past and leaped towards one of the trees at the edge of the field. Both of his feet landed firmly against the hard bark and he launched himself off, his body hurling in midair for Keghead.

"UUUUAAAGGGHHHH!!" Isomorphix growled as he pulled his katana from its sheath, sending it flying into an arc of amazing speed.

Keghead had turned around to see where the sound was coming from, but it was too late...

Isomorphix felt his katana pierce flesh. The resistance against the blade was heavy, but the force of Isomorphix's jump coupled with the force of gravity helped drive it forward. Isomorphix reinforced the back of his sword with his left hand anyway, causing the movement to go even faster. Suddenly, the weapon was free and Isomorphix jolted forward from the sudden surge.

He landed on the moist grass, the tip of his katana embedded in the ground. Isomorphix breathed heavily and held onto the hilt for support as he tried to catch his breath.

SLAAAAM!

Not two seconds after, the sound of a massive object impacting the ground sent mild tremors through the earth. Out of the corner of his eye, Isomorphix noticed a large keg roll along the ground and finally come to a stop.

*Gasp... gasp... gasp...*

Isomorphix slowly stood up, his chest still heaving up and down. He felt worn out all over, his muscles aching from the long encounter.

A flash of light ebbed within the clouds and another sound of slow rumbling followed. Isomorphix suddenly felt a wet, prickling feeling on the back of his neck. Soon, another on his hand. He looked up and another droplet of rain fell on his cheek, mingling with the blood that had stained itself there. A few moments later, a steady shower fell from the sky.

Isomorphix stood in the rain, regarding himself and the fallen beast. His gaze was fixated on Keghead's headless corpse, daring it to regenerate the head. He stood there for what seemed to be an eternity, but could have only been a few minutes as the rain cleansed his blade and himself. All the while, he looked down on the motionless corpse.

It didn't so much as budge. Isomorphix finally let out a bit of breath he had been holding back.

I suppose beheading the beast was the key after all, Isomorphix reasoned.

As he was about to turn away, a flash of lightning lit up the darkness and Isomorphix seemed to catch a glimpse of something not too far away. He stopped. Despite the emotionless demeanor on his face, Isomorphix's eyes were wide with what he may or may not have seen. Another flash of lightning put to rest any doubt in his mind.

Impossible... Isomorphix thought. The grip on his katana seemed to loosen as he absorbed the shock of what he was seeing. Not too far away from the corpse of Keghead was...

His head... Isomorphix seemed to curse mentally.

Undoubtedly, Keghead's head lay there in a puddle as rain fell over it. And attached to his head was a very large, pulsating mass. A growing mass.

Isomorphix stared in horror as another flash of lightning illuminated the grotesque scene. A sadistic grin was plastered across Keghead's keg head, and his eyes looked directly into Isomorphix's with knowledge of the inevitable as the sharp thunder cracked.

Isomorphix took a step backward, his eyes still wide from the shock. A few more steps backward disturbed the forming puddles.

What... What IS he??

Still looking at the monstrosity, Isomorphix quickly surveyed his options.

If I get back to the Justice League headquarters; I still may be able to enlist the others' help. Hopefully, I'll be able to get there before he regenerates completely.

Shaking off the sense that he was only delaying the inevitable, Isomorphix ran through the rain for JL HQ that was behind the hills.

***

Scarlett glanced around the newly-renovated Justice League living room. It had been redone with the help of Feng Shui guru Ramen Nuudull.

Of course, some of the furniture looked a little out of place. Scarlett had a feeling maybe Ramen had been a little out of it when he made them put two of the beds into the kitchen, and suspended the dining room table and chairs from the living room ceiling with dental floss.

But the leopard statue standing guard outside the entrance looked nice. And there was new furniture and carpet and paint and stuff. So all in all, the changes had been for the better.

The phone rang, and she picked it up. "Hello? Justice League Headquarters, Scarlett Fyre speaking."

"Would you light my candulllll?" a voice on the other end sang.

"What?"

"Would you light my candulllll?"

"Excuse me?"

"Do you wanna dance?"

"With you?"

"No. With my father."

"Who are you?"

"They call me, they call me--" the phone line went dead before the mysterious caller could finish. The lights flickered and went off. Scarlett looked around nervously. The kitchen was empty; she went to the living room, but no one was there, either.

"Hmm. Well, I guess I should go light some candles," Scarlett said to herself, and she went back to the kitchen to find some. After pulling open the cabinets, she finally found some candles and a couple of matches hidden behind a bill labeled, "Rent." Scarlett lit the candles and put the rent bill in the pile of mail labeled "Important Stuff No One Cares About."

Outside, a thunderstorm had started; thunder boomed and Scarlett went into the living room to discover no one had thought to put glass in the skylights--rain was pouring into the living room, falling onto the dining table and running down onto X-Raytor's expensive stereo equipment.

"Gah, idiots! I told them we should have let Hamlet handle the finishing touches--Twisk and Pinzz don't know squat about renovating buildings!" She ran to find a piece of tarp to cover the skylights, then morphed into an elephant and put the tarp in place, stopping the deluge.

She demorphed, and looked at the damage. X-Raytor's stereo equipment was now worthless, as was Raven's computer. Oreo's Oreo satchel was also soaked, but the water was receding from the living room, slowly but surely. It was probably running into the room below, Scarlett noted to herself. That would mean...

"OH CRAP!!!" she screamed, and tore downstairs to the Justice League Walk-In Closet.

Sure enough, the Walk-In Closet was positioned right underneath the living room, and the rainwater had drizzled onto nearly 2/3 of the dresses she'd been storing there.

She barely had time to go into shock when she heard a door open upstairs. The others were back from wherever the heck it was they had gone. She ran upstairs, ready to chew someone out.

"My stereo! My taped episodes of So Weird! My TiVo!" X-Raytor was shrieking hysterically. Oreo was searching through her satchel frantically, making sure none of her supplies had been damaged.

"What happened?" asked Eric. Scarlett explained, ending with a long soliloquy about the loss of several of her dry-clean only dresses. She pointed an accusing finger toward Pinzz and Twisk.

"It's all their fault! Those idiots didn't finish the skylights! And I've got weird people calling me, too! Singing songs about lighting candles and stuff!" Scarlett broke down, sobbing, and ran back to the Justice League Walk-In Closet to mourn her loss.

***

X-Raytor hit rewind search, let it go for a few seconds, and then pressed the play button on his CD player.

In his headphones he heard:

"Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
That nothing really matters
Nothing really matters
To me..."

He was about to listen to the line again when Rosma kicked him, and Oreo Avenger yanked the headphones off of his head.

"Hey! Give that back!"

"No!" Rosma said. "Get over it! We all feel bad, but you don't see the rest of us slouching on the floor, listening to the end of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' over and over again!"

"Yeah, seriously," Xiao said. "You don't see me getting upset, and I should be suing for a hate crime! Feng-shui- making the Hall demon free- puh! What about Fred, huh? Did anyone ever think of THAT?! But don't worry, even though you insulted us both and hurt our feelings, we're not going t-" She paused. Blinked. "Oh, um, Fred says it would benefit you all to lock your doors tonight..."

"I didn't even want my room Feng-Shuieieided!" X-Raytor cried. "Okay, well, maybe I did, but still!"

"Your room isn't Feng-Shuied," Twisk said. "Scarlett just took your TiVo down so she could tape the Emmys."

X-Raytor blinked.

"Wait, so my room isn't a no demon zone?"

"Not that I know of."

X-Raytor leapt up. "Excuse me for a second!"

A few moments later, in his locked room, X-Raytor used chalk to sketch a pentagram on the floor. He began, as the ancient rituals prescribed:

"Dark Father, hear me for m-" He paused, considered. "Hear me for Scarlett's soul's sake. I am one who promises sacrifice. I am one who begs a dark boon for sacrifice. I am one who seeks vengeance of the left hand. I bring blood in promises of sacrifice."

He lay down a small bottle of blood. Actually, it was strawberry jam, but he didn't think it mattered. Demons needed to put something on their toast, just like everyone else.

Something happened in the room; the air seemed to become heavier.

Suddenly, a voice came from the darkness. It was cold, reptilian, but also wet with mocking laughter.

"What do you require?"

"I want my recorded So Weird, fourth season!, episodes back. All of them. On TiVo."

"It is a small boon," The voice said. "What do you offer?"

"Neomatrix/Llama Boy/whatever-he's-turning-into's hair. From his legs."

"All of it." The voice said. "Agreed?"

"Yes."

"Then give me what is mine."

X-Raytor shoveled course, gray llama hair out of a jar. It fell into the pentagram and there was a flash, like the flash bulb on an old camera. The hair was gone.

"So will you do it now?"

"Actually... no."

Just then, the demon stepped into existence. It was the size of a man, with grayish-green scales, yellow, intelligent snake eyes, and cloven hooves for feet. There were two black horns growing from its bald head.

"I'm actually here to see Fred. He may have mentioned me- does the name Sadiss ring a bell?"

X-Raytor shook his head.

The demon shrugged. "Oh well. I got a call from him. Something about feng-shui removal..."

"Oh, yeah. He's down in the common room. Hey! Wait a second! Why am I telling you this? You won't give me my dark boon!"

Sadiss rolled his eyes. "They're doing a marathon over the weekend. Just buy a new TiVo at Best Buy and record them then."

"Oh... uh, okay. So, um, are you going to give Neo's hair back?"

"Once again, no." Sadiss sneered. "Llama hair is precious. Very, very precious. Especially when it is tinted by the power of Oreos." X-Raytor shivered at the cold, unearthly greed in the demon's voice. "In exchange, I'll give you something much better."

X-Raytor liked that. "OOOOOOOH! A PRESENT!!!!!! WHATISITWHATISITWHATISIT?!?!?!!"

"You'll have to wait and see-e!" The demon said in a sing-song voice, and opened the door. "Oh, also, before I go and help with the re-renovations- when Neomatrix finishes his transformation, I don't think he'll be happy about being shorn. I'd be sure to be on that trip to Best Buy then, if I were you."

X-Raytor nodded. "Yeah, thanks." And started the scrub the pentagram off the floor as Sadiss left. It wasn't until a few minutes later that he realized that the demon had stolen his strawberry jam.

That present had better be something good...

***

Doctor Lansky looked out the window. "Well, will you look at that, Raven. It's a storm, and so late at night. Time flies, doesn't it?"

She scowled. Time flies. And it wasn't that late.

"Well, you better stay here for tonight, Raven. There's room." He didn't notice the scowl as he led her down a hallway, to a room. Room 101.

"This is Holden, Liesa, and Yago. This is Raven, you three. I'm sure you'll all get along famously." Doctor Lansky smiled sadistically, and left.

***

Xiao, Oreo, and Violet Princess were playing a game of Chinese checkers (well, trying to, Oreo kept staring at the television and had to be shaken back to reality), when a hole in the fabric of time/space opened, and out popped...

"Mr. Wizard?" Oreo said, as she popped back to the real world after gazing at the television show for a few minutes. "Oh, it's just some demon."

"I'm Sadiss. Now...which one of you is occupied with Fred?"

Xiao meekly raised her arm. Sadiss snapped his fingers, and Xiao braced for something yucky to happen, like her hair turn to worms, or something weird like that, since demons always seem to enjoy evil tricks. Or something.

But nothing happened. She opened one eye, and saw Sadiss standing there with a small smirk on his reptilian-like face.

Fred suddenly appeared. "Thanks a lot, Sadiss. It's been a long time, and I wasn't sure if you had changed your address since the last time."

Sadiss nodded sympathetically. "Humans have no respect for supernatural beings in their presence. Why, I remember, in the old days-"

And thus Fred and Sadiss talked for hours, while Xiao stood near, smiling every now and then when Sadiss or Fred noticed her. They talked about pillaging and plundering, and how peoples of the old age may have been superstitious, but at least THEY knew to grovel in a powerful creature's presence. Sadiss shook his head again, and asked if Fred would like to join him as he terrorized another plane of existence, but Fred politely declined. He had his hands full here, thank you very much. Xiao noticed that Sadiss had strawberry jam on his hands....

Finally, Sadiss disappeared into whatever plane he had come from.

"Can we do something else now?" Xiao whispered to Fred, not wanting to offend Sadiss, if he could still hear her.

"Eh, why not." Fred slid behind her, not taking on her shadow's full form. The shape of his hair gave her shadow horns.

***

Later, almost everyone gathered around the television to watch the news. There was a disturbing lack of crime-everywhere!

"Hello. I'm Lisa Porter, of CNN. Today, another unexpected no-crime wave strikes the world. In fact, the President has named this day 'National Fluffy Puppies and Daffy Duck Day', in honor of this new predicament. Meanwhile, hundreds of police forces everywhere are being laid off, as everyone believes crime has forever ended, and the Age of Aquarius has indeed begun."

The television clicked off as Pinzz pressed the power button.

"Hey, I was watching that." Eric said, staring intently at the blank screen. "This is even better though. Thanks for changing the channel."

Everyone who was assembled rolled their eyes, except the llama blob, who didn't have eyes to roll. Just flesh.

"Something weird is going on," Pinzz began.

"Yeah! We're watching CNN!" Midnight Chatter said.

"What I meant was-" Pinzz sighed. "Oh, nevermind. Let's take this time to do something fun. Something like-"

"Like, we keep doing what we've been doing for the past week or so?"

"EXACTLY!"

***

"Isn't there anything to DO here?" asked Raven.

"Nope." said Holden glumly. "Nothing. Actually, it's lucky he didn't make us do some sort of introductory game." Holden seemed to speak for the whole group, being that Liesa usually was sleeping or mumbling, though occasionally she asked questions about what happened to the Project, and where the Voice came from, or, at times, when dinner was.

Yago, on the other hand, didn't seem to even get tired. He kept pacing around, looking around paranoidly.

"Aren't there cards?" Raven persisted.

"Someone might gamble, or swallow, or stab."

"Stab?! With cards?!"

"They seem to think so."