Okay, so that's not really fair. Big deal. BIG FREAKIN' DEAL! I'm in no mood to be "fair" right now.
And besides... as annoying as that phony hipster was back when I was pretending to be a "straight arrow" imaginary twin brother to my legendarily bad-ass self, and he looked on me with total disdain... well, he's only gotten more irritating now that everybody knows who I really am. Because now Phantom Lad is my biggest fan. He's always hanging around my desk, asking me if I need more space-java, or a new pad of holo-notes, or even *shudder* a foot-rub. GAH. Anything I say, he immediately agrees with, aggressively. Even combatively. And I'm pretty sure he's stalking me. He tried to rummage through my garbage the other night, but luckily Storm Boy was already there, searching for used undershirts. And I've tried
So what happened was this:
Phantom Lad, Storm Boy, Posture Queen, and I all had to come into work today, even though it's it's "Co-Dependence Day" on Lallor, and most everything is closed. Except liquor stores, and armories. Over at Eyeful Ethel's Detective Agency (Featuring Blockade Boy) we were the "skeleton crew", I guess. I had to be there because I'm the assistant manager or somethin', and Storm Boy had to be there because Lallor's customary radioactive heat waves tend to cause brown-outs and he's the only guy who can restart the computers. And Phantom Lad and Posture Queen both had to be there even though they're both receptionists, because Eyeful Ethel is making them train as "junior detectives" to increase efficiency. So yeah, the four of us were the only ones in the office, and we were already kind of pissed-off about being there. And I was also pissed off because of some recent personal troubles:
- I tried this new Lallorian tanning method that involves submitting one's body to a barrage of intense cosmic radiation, since that's the only way I can get UV rays to penetrate my dense pelt of sexy, sexy body hair. (And no, I'm not going to shave the hair off and then get a tan and then let the hair grow back! What kind of sick idea is that?!) So anyway, I now have a handsome -- one might even call it "glowing" -- tan, but my DNA has been damaged to the extent that I've lost most of my shape-shifting powers. It's back to just plain ol' steel walls for me! Dang it.
- Meanwhile, my sixteen-legged cat, Cootie, is exhibiting even more powers! This started a few months ago, when she displayed a "paralysis ray" power, kind of like Rainbow Girl has. Now, Cootie has something like sixteen different super-powers. That's one for each leg! And she's gotten hyper as hell, running all over the place, destroying my (manly) knick-knacks with freeze-breath, blobs of inky ectoplasm, and mind-controlled hobos. Also, she's peeing all over everything.
- My press-agent has stopped returning my calls, probably because I've started losing endorsement deals left and right, probably because my signature style has become so popular, a good 70% of all brawny, hairy guys now look just like me. If you refine that sampling to include only the brawny, hairy guys who are my boyfriends, the number jumps to around 92%. Which is at least three-hundred people!
So yeah, I was in a foul mood to begin with, and when I showed up at work, the place was like a dimly-lit oven, because, y'know, no power. And both Phantom Lad and Posture Queen were crammed behind the reception desk, arguing about who cares what, and then Phantom Lad spotted me and about killed himself scrambling over the desk like some kind of broken-legged spider, and one of his big dumb feet knocked the computer terminal flying and it busted into a thousand pieces, and then Posture Queen was pissed at Phantom Lad for breaking it, and Storm Boy was pissed at Phantom Lad because now he had to fix it, and I was pissed at Phantom Lad because... well, because he was goddman Phantom Lad, and that was good enough for me. (Have I mentioned that for all his unwavering devotion, he still won't divulge the nature of this mysterious "extra job" that Frigid Queen once alluded to? He said, "Naw, man, I can't tell you that! You'd lose all respect for me!" And I said, "I assure you, that's impossible." But he still won't breathe a word about it. Which, of course, just makes me want to know about it even more.) So anyway, about an hour passed in total silence, because nobody called, because it's a freakin' holiday, and nobody said a word, because they were all seriously bitter about even being there, and apparently Phantom Lad couldn't stand the tension anymore because he suddenly yelped, "YOU KNOW WHAT WE NEED?! SOME MARCHING!"
Storm Boy and Posture Queen looked at him like he had lost his space-marbles, but I was intrigued. I mean, you all know how much I love marching! And Phantom Lad started doing this crazy high-stepping march, with his gangly, withered limbs flying all over the place. "C'MON, PEOPLE!" he barked, with forced gaiety. "LET'S HAVE OURSELVES A GOOD OL' AMADAN-STYLE MARCH, LIKE BRIGADIER BLOCKADE DID ON THE DECK OF THE H.M.S. EXQUISITE!" He started humming "Cum On Feel the Noize" -- which is my homeworld's planetary anthem -- and maybe it was my patriotism, or maybe I was just moved by the sight of Phantom Lad's flop-sweat, but I hopped up from my desk and started marching around, behind Phantom Lad! He beamed grungily at me and said, "Oh, no, after you! Of course!" And I grinned and said, "Don't mind if I do!" and I took my place at the head of the parade. The two of us did a couple of turns around the office. On our second pass, I heard Storm Boy mutter, "That does kinda look like fun," and then he inserted himself in line between Phantom Lad and me. Posture Queen gaped at us as we marched past the reception desk, and I didn't think she was going to join in. But I guess she gets turned on by the sight of erect spines, because she wound up shoving Phantom Lad out of the way and getting in line behind Storm Boy. I could feel myself really getting into it -- being a natural leader, I guess -- and after a final circle of the office, I booted the door open and led everyone down the frozen escalator and out into the streets!
"Wait, where are we even going?" laughed Storm Boy.
Without even a trace of mirth in my voice, I bellowed, "TO THE MUSIC STORE!"
When we got close to the local music shop, I used my force gauntlets to pry the door open, so we could march inside without even pausing. Stomping about the empty store, we grabbed instruments off the shelves. I nabbed a bass guitar, Storm Boy took the most phallic clarinet he could lay his mouth on, Posture Queen grandly commandeered a "marching harp" (which is like a regular harp but with wheels on it), and Phantom "Maynard G. Krebs" Lad helped himself to a set of bongos. I slapped a big wedge of space-cheddah on the counter, pinwheeled my arm to strum the first chord of "Ace of Spades", and led my impromptu band out the door.
YEAH, boy-ee, it was one kick-ass parade! I could tell that Lallor's usual milling half-wits and vagrants had never seen such a sight before. I marched us to the center of town and right down Beast Boy Memorial Boulevard. People were practically tumbling out of their hovels (or maybe they were pushed) to join us! Storm Boy, Posture Queen, and Phantom Lad wordlessly formed themselves into a single rank, three people across, and the newcomers followed suit. I was still in front, moving with the measured, unstoppable ferocity of a Khundian mail carrier. I entered a kind of fugue state, where my only thought was "MARCH MARCH MARCH" and from what the other three have told me, they were kind of swept up into my mania, as well. I pushed us relentlessly onward, never looking back. I could hear the swelling sounds of the parade as it developed behind us. People sang along with us as we performed numerous inspirational marches, like "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Back in Black" and "Tush." After a while, there were so many voices that it all blended into an articulate roar. The road ahead reflected brilliant flashes of colored light, and the scent of gunpowder teased my nostrils. My mind dimly registered this as "fireworks."
And then the blazing husk of a hover-bike whizzed over my head and slammed into the pavement, not eight feet away from me.
I looked back.
And so, presumably for the first time, did Storm Boy, Posture Queen, and Phantom Lad.
We were speechless. Well, except for Storm Boy, who made a pathetic little gurgling sound.
What we had thought was a harmless (if lively) parade, was -- in reality -- a full-scale riot. It turned out that the native marchers were all drunk off their asses and armed to the teeth, and quite disgruntled. They looted luxury boutiques, overturned hover-cars (which takes a lot of work, believe me, on account of the internal gyroscopes) and generally set fire to everything they could. In the distance, Lallor's brutish police force was tussling with a group of people who were hollering "Revolution! Revolution!" Another, smaller group shouted "Anarchy! Anarchy!" and toddled about in random patterns.
Simultaneously, all four of our Omnicoms buzzed.
It was Eyeful Ethel.
"Congratulations, numb-nuts," she said. "You're all fired."