Previous Episode Hydrogen Guy Main Page Next Episode


Episode 75

<H1><IMG SRC="title73.PNG" width="312" height="62" ALT="Crossing Over"></H1>

... from the Files of Hydrogen Guy

 

A "Crossing Over" Recap with Ms. Kimmie Parks
Registered President, Official The Grayhound Fan Club

So then in Chapter 74, Chris manages to save Hydrogen Guy and JB... like, did I mention that JB turned into gas and evaporated only to have HG evaporate as well to chase after them while DB busted through the roof of the elevator that they were all stuck in after the most recent unexplained earthquake that had been rocking Boise and then HG and JB had suddenly materialized again just short of the sparking wire that would have ignited JB only to plummet forty or so feet to the hard metal where DB and Chris were standing? No? Geez, I like totally spaced on that didn't I?

Anyway so Chris saves them by flinging out this like super sized version of Leggs pantyhose except they were supposed to be pantyless hose (which is like no where near as oogy as the fact that they were sticky as well) but then Chris and HG climb their way out of the shaft while DB explains to JB (Hey! Like their initials rhyme, that's soo cute!) what a really bad guy this Hans Raoul is and how any elemental wouldn't be safe so long as Hans Raoul thought he was alive, and Chris and HG have another like little fight where Chris gets another whack by the ol' clue-by-four and Hydrogen Guy says that it's not his fault either that he's were he is but then Hydrogen Guy figures that DB can handle Chris better while he and JB figure out how to better use JB's powers, and DB finally talks some sense into Chris' head before they find out that the earthquakes aren't normal (duh) but actually might be the work of the silicon elemental dude and HG and JB head off to do what comes naturally for Canadian Heroes which generally involved trashing a coffee house (Like I've been to Hallowed Grounds and it is so totally a goth place!) but they make this like elemental joy buzzer out of sand and water before they all meet at T.O.I.J's for dinner and Chris calls Hydrogen Guy a fathead.

Ok, then in Chapter 33, Bob finds Mark like totally passed out in the road but doesn't know that Mark is like Mark as in the kid that can do the weird elemental stuff but Bob takes him back to his place to make sure that Mark's like ok and stuff which is kinda nice for a guy who's supposed to be evil and all, and Mark is like "that's soo cool" and even fixes up Bob's computer so it's totally bitchin which makes Bob even more suspicious that Mark might be more than Mark so he fires up his newly fired up computer and like bips out to a few folks, but then we see this like total model like chick who's helping out some big time baddie up in Canada named Robyn, (no the chick, not the dude, because otherwise he'd probably have a buddy named Bruce or something and that would be totally weird) and she's looking for Bob and they meet up on the beach, which would normally be pretty romantic except for the fact that Bob isn't like into her at all because he's more into his own wife which is so like TOTALLY romantic and all but then later they meet up again in a warehouse with Mark hiding behind some crates while Bob and Robyn have like this argument about something but of course Mark is like totally being a pig and it really kind of gross because even I thought those big crystal things shooting up in Boise were mushrooms. I mean, EEEEEWWWWW!!!!


Part VI - "Grime and Pumice-ment"

Oh, man, that was painful...

Any tourist flying in to Boise early that particular evening would have been forgiven had they thought that some kind of international exhibition was currently happening in the city, or something similar that had prompted the, um, erection of several dramatic new architectural marvels. In fact, nobody in particular had planned the recent additions to Boise's skyline, which made the downtown core look like somebody's new-age crystal mushroom garden.

Hydrogen Guy, Deuterium Boy, and Puppy Boy were helping Boise's emergency personnel in evacuating the crystallised buildings. Hydrogen Guy was ushering the last evacuees out of what had once been the Boise First National Pulmonary Bank when the giant crystal began shuddering and growing again. He looked up at it with alarm.

Hydrogen Guy
Okay, lads. It's recap time.

Deuterium Boy
Make it fast, we've got some serious running around and yelling to do.

Hydrogen Guy
We have an immensely powerful - and apparently, rather puerile-minded - silicon Elemental "somewhere" in Boise - we can't figure out where - who's now gotten tired of causing earthquakes and has decided to turn the city into some kind of post-modern quartz sculpture. And we haven't got a frickin' clue what to do about it.

Deuterium Boy
That seems to cover it.

Hydrogen Guy
I thought so. By the way, DB, try not to inhale too much of the dust, it's aluminum rich.

Deuterium Boy
Thanks, HG.

Puppy Boy
I think Chris has some idea what to do. Or at least, he seems to.

Hydrogen Guy
Ah yes. Boise's favourite projectile. Listen, JB, as much as I respect your brother professionally, I somehow doubt that this time the salvation of the City by the Spud will depend on a few acres latex or a truckload of size C batteries.

Puppy Boy
Well at least he's doing something!

They hear an explosion overhead. Looking up, they see that the crystal "buildings" are now sending out branches, some of which are colliding with one another. The three heroes beat a hasty retreat for a more open space in the centre of the street.

Hydrogen Guy
You're right. And it's time we did, too. DB, can we --

He was interrupted as the Grayhound's Nissan Maxima came flying around a corner and ground to a halt beside the nearest crystal. Chris popped the hood and jumps out of the car bearing a set of jumper cables.

The others ran over to him.

Grayhound
JB, gimme a hand.

Hydrogen Guy
What are you -- Where'd you get a hydrogen fuel cell like that?!

Grayhound
It's an import. JB, take these and try to find someplace on the crystal to hook'em on. I'm gonna show this guy what it's like being a Timex...

He dove under the hood and located the hydrogen collector's power relays. He attached one end of each jumper cable to each polarity. Hydrogen Guy leaned over his shoulder and tried not to sound as annoyed as he felt. He failed.

Hydrogen Guy
Think our boy needs a bit of a jump start, do we?

Grayhound
You're a physicist. You know how a quartz watch works, right? Apply a voltage to the crystal and it starts to vibrate.

Hydrogen Guy
It's called piezoelectricity.

Grayhound
Whatever. Well, that's what I'm trying here. This H-cell is that "horrendously powerful" were talking about a while ago. When I start the engine, pop the clutch and hit the gas, I'll send a good dose of juice into the crystal, and hopefully the feedback will knock the Elemental for a loop.

Hydrogen Guy
Elemental fields don't work that way! It's not like he's plugged into some kind of circuit --

Grayhound
Like I said, you're a physicist, right? A applies a force on B, so B must apply a force on A. Newton's laws.

Hydrogen Guy
You're not an Elemental, you --

Grayhound
You have something better?!

Hydrogen Guy
No.

Grayhound
Thought not. JB, how you making out?

JB and Deuterium Boy were staring at the perfectly smooth face of the crystal.

Puppy Boy
No good, bra, there's nothing to clamp on to.

Deuterium Boy
One sec.

He took a Deuterium-O-Rang from his Useful Things belt and slammed the blade into the crystal. The first blow did nothing. Deuterium Boy grimaced, then wound his arm back and slammed the D into the crystal again. This time the quartz splintered and the blade sunk in. He repeated the performance with a second blade nearby.

Puppy Boy
Thanks!

He attached the jumper cables to the two protruding pieces of metal.

Deuterium Boy
Thank Captain Industry. Man, if my banker was that strong, I would've paid my student loan back on time.

Puppy Boy
All set, Chris!

Chris jumped into the driver's seat.

Grayhound
Everyone stand back!

Hydrogen Guy sighed. He leaned over the engine and placed his hands on the hydrogen collector.

Grayhound
What do you think you're doing?

Hydrogen Guy
If you're going to do something stupid, you may as well do it right. DB, set the Scan-O-Matic on wide scan, all frequencies. If this actually works, we may be able to pick up the "feedback" on the Elemental's end...

Deuterium Boy
Got it. JB, we might want to stand on the other side of the street...

Grayhound
Ready, HG?

Hydrogen Guy
Ready, GH. Give 'er.

As Hydrogen Guy willed the liquid hydrogen in the fuel cell to respond with maximum efficiency, Chris started the motor, popped the clutch, and gave the gas everything it would take.


Mark remained behind the crates, caught between the very real feeling that he should be trying to read what Bob and the Asian mega-babe were saying, and the more illusory but oh-so-pleasant picture of being pool boy at one of her all-female clothing-optional pool parties. As the age-old instincts of self-preservation and unexpressed hormones waged war inside him, Mark was suddenly seized by an entirely new feeling.

The feeling of being electrocuted by high-voltage power lines while being smashed into a brick wall by an out-of-control, fully-loaded cement truck. Only without the power lines, wall, or truck.

The tremendous back-surge of power blasted Mark's rigid, unconscious body straight through the empty wooden crates and flying across the empty part of the warehouse. He collided with a wooden support beam, cracking it in two, bounced, and rolled several feet.

The conversation between Bob Malevolent and Robyn Cheung came to a rather dramatic halt.


The surge of current from the Maxima's hydrogen-collectors vaporised the jumper cables in seconds flat, and knocked Hydrogen Guy flying - an amateurish performance compared to Mark's, of course, but taken on its own merits, still a pretty good shot.

The entire crystal - all nine stories of it, not to mention its branches - began to vibrate alarmingly as it absorbed the power surge. The rest of the crystals quickly took up the vibration. By the time Chris killed the engine, the whole block was humming audibly.

Chris launched himself out of the car, nearly colliding with an orange flash that swooped in and collected Hydrogen Guy. Chris had the wind knocked out of him as a second flash grabbed him and whisked him away, a split second before a shower of deadly sharp quartz shards landed where he'd been standing.

The crystals shook more violently. They began splitting apart with thunderous cracks, raining shards and slabs of quartz down on the streets below. Chris was shoved into a bus shelter next to the unconscious Hydrogen Guy. He squeezed his eyes shut in a futile instinctive effort to block out the tremendous noise of the vibrating, disintegrating crystals.

Then suddenly, the noise stopped.

Chris opened his eyes very carefully.

The street was covered in quartz, from fine grains of silica dust to larger shards, to sizeable slabs which stuck straight out of the ground like candles shoved in a birthday cake. There was a fair amount of glass and concrete strewn around, too, from buildings damaged by flying debris and sympathetic vibrations.

Chris looked skyward. Not a single crystalline monolith was left standing. They had destroyed themselves in less than five minutes.

"Holy... cow," he said, almost in a whisper. He stood up, brushing off dust and the bus shelter's shattered glass. Funny, he didn't even notice when it broke.

"You can say that again." Hydrogen Guy was getting to his feet next to him.

"You okay?" they asked simultaneously. Chris grinned. "Yeah, just a ringing in my ears. You?"

Hydrogen Guy held up his hands. His palms were a mass of nasty looking burns and blisters. "Ouch!" said Chris.

"Happens every time I wreck someone else's city," Hydrogen Guy said ruefully. "Actually, it's not as bad as it could've been. I backed off at the last nanosecond. Hurts like a bitch, though. Where's -- "

Two colourful flashes appeared in the quartz-strewn street - JB with his new super-atomic speed, and Deuterium Boy borrowing Captain Industry's own super-speed.

"Chris!" shouted JB, "Will you look at this mess?!"

"Yeah, I --"

"DB! The Scan-O-Matic... ?"

Deuterium Boy held up the instrument. "The resonance explosion almost drowned it out," he said, "but we have a faint peak. And co-ordinates - across town, near the waterfront."

Hydrogen Guy whooped with delight. "Yes! Quick, we have to reach him before he moves!"

He rushed towards his partner, stopped, looked around frantically, then with another excited cry, he spotted the Maxima. It was coated with yet another thick layer of dust, but it was miraculously intact.

"Chris! We're taking the car!"

"What?!"

"Leave it to us! Your city needs you right now! C'mon, DB! You drive, I can't grip the wheel..."

The Diatomic Duo swarmed into the Maxima as Chris stood sputtering. JB stood by with a mischievous grin on his face. The engine roared to life and the car jerked forward.

"Hey! Hey! If you two wing-nuts -- !"

The Maxima took off with a squeal and a cloud of grit.

"Fill it up on the way back," Chris screamed after them, "and BUY SOME WASHER FLUID!!"


Robyn stared open-mouthed; Bob was equally surprised, although he only expressed it by raising his eyebrows.

He reached Mark a split second too late. Robyn moved surprisingly fast considering she was wearing stiletto heels. Mark was still unconscious, but Bob was relieved to see his chest rising and falling. He was far less than pleased to see Robyn cradling his head on her knee and pressing a glass dagger to his throat.

Robyn
You're in luck, Bob. He's alive - for now. So this is Mark, hm? He'll be quite a hunk in a few years...

She heard the familiar click of a hammer, and found her self looking up at the barrel of Bob's grandfather's service revolver. He spoke with the same pleasant, measured tones, but she could tell from the slight tremor of loose finger that he was very upset.

Bob
Ms. Cheung, I think you want to put the knife down.

She smiled.

Robyn
I don't think so, Bob. That would be throwing away what I can see is a very good bargaining position.

Bob
He's not the one you want, Ms. Cheung. I don't know who he is.

Robyn
You're a terrible liar, Bob. If he's a stranger, why do you care what I do to him?

She pressed the dagger point lightly against Mark's Adam's apple. His eyes fluttered open. He tried to move, but his muscles refused to work.

Bob
He's not the silicon Elemental.

Robyn
Oh, really? Then what's he doing here? And why's he flying through the air like he's been shot out of a cannon?

Keeping her eyes trained on Bob's revolver, and the glass knife at Mark's throat, she slowly rose from her crouch, lifting Mark up with her. Bob followed her with the gun, keeping it trained on her temple.

Robyn
Now, Bob... why don't you talk to me about what it'll take for me to drop this knife... and for you to lower that gun.

Suddenly from outside there came the screech of car brakes, followed by the purposeful slamming of doors. Bob looked away involuntarily...

Quickly, Robyn took the glass dagger from Mark's throat and thrust it into his side. Mark's eyes widened in shock, and a low gurgle came from somewhere in his throat. The mask of calm dropped from Bob's face and gave way to fury.

Bob
You -- !

Robyn lowered Mark to the floor. She looked apologetically at Bob as she pulled the dagger of out Mark's side and wiped it on his jacket.

Robyn
Sorry, Bob. I guess you were right. He's not the Elemental. A silicon Elemental could have deflected that.

The sound of voices carried from outside. She backed away from Bob, slowly and calmly.

Robyn
Tough luck, Bob. Give us a call when you find the real Elemental.

She turned her back on him and quickly strode the few steps to the front door of the warehouse. She spared him a parting glance as she stepped outside. The door banged shut behind her.

Bob hurled the empty gun after her. It clanged off the closed door and clattered to the floor. He dropped to the ground beside Mark. Bob pulled off his jacket and pressed it against the knife wound.

Bob
Mark! Mark, are you alive?

Mark's eyes opened and he focused on Bob. He managed a weak nod.

Mark
Man... whatta... bitch.

Bob smiled.

Bob
Good, hang in there. We better get you to a clinic. Can you walk?

Mark
Dunno... I'll try...

A noise something like a large electrical discharge came from out front. The hairs on the back of Bob's neck rose.

Bob
Come on, I think we better leave through the back...


Hydrogen Guy
This is it!

Deuterium Boy slammed on the Maxima's brakes. They were in front of a warehouse on Boise's waterfront. Hydrogen Guy held Deuterium Boy's Scan-O-Matic, which held the GPS co-ordinates of the quartz crystal's feedback signal, on his lap.

Hydrogen Guy
I think it's in there.

He pointed to the warehouse. A sign proclaimed it as belonging to "Krull-Ex International Shipping".

Deuterium Boy
You feel up to this?

Hydrogen Guy nodded. He clasped his hand on the "pommel" of the Ruler of Elendil and winced involuntarily.

Hydrogen Guy
Yeah. You? ... and the Furlong?

Deuterium Boy tilted his head.

Deuterium Boy
Yeah. They say to be careful, but they've got our backs.

Hydrogen Guy
Good to know. Let's do it.

They unbelted and got out of the car. Hydrogen Guy (gingerly) set the Scan-O-Matic to local scan and waved it around.

Hydrogen Guy
Not picking up any energy readings...

Deuterium Boy
How about your crystal thingy?

Hydrogen Guy shook his head.

Hydrogen Guy
Nothing. It's dehydrogenated...

The door to the warehouse opened and a young Asian woman stepped out. The door banged shut behind her.

Deuterium Boy
Hydrogen Guy!

Hydrogen Guy
I recognise her, DB. This time. Cheung, isn't it?

Robyn smiled sweetly.

Robyn
I'm so flattered you remember, Hydrogen Guy.

She raised the glass dagger.

Robyn
Let's see how just how memorable I can make myself.

She threw the dagger at Hydrogen Guy's head. Completely drained from acting as a human flux capacitor, he barely had time to register the dagger's existence before Deuterium Boy had flung himself in front of him. Deuterium Boy caught the dagger by the hilt, inches from Hydrogen Guy's face, and then in one fluid motion hurled it back at its owner.

Robyn dived out of the way with no time to spare. The dagger bounced off the side of the warehouse and shattered on the ground. Robyn looked up at Deuterium Boy, furious.

He clucked his tongue disparagingly, and spoke with a Texas drawl.

Deuterium Boy
Now, sugah, that ain't no way for a lady to behave.

Robyn got to her feet and stumbled. She looked down briefly, and when she looked back at the Covalent Crusaders, her eyes were coal black orbs. She spoke with a strange inflection to her voice.

Robyn
Now look... you've made me break a HEEL!

She raised her hands and bolts of bright red electrical energy shot from her fingertips, enveloping the two heroes. Deuterium Boy jerked like a Marionette. Hydrogen Guy managed to hold his ground, the Ruler of Elendil absorbing the majority of the energy in a bright blue nimbus.

As she continued the onslaught, Hydrogen Guy tried to move towards his partner, to get in a position to take the brunt of both streams. Robyn grimaced, and increased the power on Hydrogen Guy's side, forcing him back.

Suddenly, Deuterium Boy began to scream. Robyn - or whatever the she-demon actually was - laughed with pleasure at the sound. However, there were those nearby who understood the sounds were not those of a human soul in torment, but a seagull in distress.

When the screams seemed to multiply, Robyn first thought that Hydrogen Guy had succumbed as well, until a motion near the top of her field of view caused her to look up. In a moment, a hexadecimal dozen of seagulls were swooping at her, snapping and pecking with their beaks, beating with their wings, and tangling themselves in her hair. She dropped her lightning attack and tried to beat the birds off. The gulls drove her back against the side of the building, then with a shriek of fury almost as loud and piercing as theirs, she enveloped herself in a red burst of energy and vanished.

Hydrogen Guy struggled to his feet. He stared in amazement at the flock of seagulls, who were now clustering around the prone Deuterium Boy and making concerned noises. Hydrogen Guy peeled the Ruler of Elendil out of his hand, and walked unsteadily towards his partner. The birds scattered, but not far. Some stayed on the ground, watching HG warily, while others circled the immediate vicinity overhead.

Hydrogen Guy
Dave? DB, are you okay?

Deuterium Boy was crouched in a ball on the ground. He moaned softly.

Hydrogen Guy
Can I take that as a "no"?

Deuterium Boy raised his head.

Deuterium Boy
Uhhh... yeah. I'm alive, sort of. What in the name of Tiamat was THAT?!

Hydrogen Guy bent down and started helping him to his feet.

Hydrogen Guy
Damned if I know... but I suspect somebody got out of Aybabtu with a bit more than a lousy T-shirt... You sure you're okay?

Deuterium Boy
Yeah, yeah... I just feel a bit like the guy who cut Emperor Palpatine off in traffic... hang on a sec, Roger needs to say thank you...

He craned his neck upwards and belted out a few caustic squawks. The remaining gulls took to the air and squawked back. The conversation continued for a few more seconds, and then the birds started wheeling away.

Hydrogen Guy clapped Deuterium Boy on the shoulder and nearly bit his tongue. He waited for the stars to clear from his vision.

Hydrogen Guy
Faunaman... thanks. We owe you, big time.

Deuterium Boy grinned sheepishly; then his smile widened, and the real David was back at the wheel.

Deuterium Boy
Thanks, HG. He really appreciates that... Aw, man...

Hydrogen Guy turned to follow his gaze. He blanched at the sight of the Maxima, which the seagulls had taken the liberty to decorate, with gusto.

Hydrogen Guy
Aw man is right... If we don't come back with an Elemental, Chris is gonna kill us. Come on, let's check that warehouse...


Robyn was awoken by the telephone's ring. Reluctantly, she forced her eyes open, then cursed as she groped for the phone in the darkened room.

Robyn
... yes?...

Hans-Raoul
Robyn, it's me.

Robyn
wha?

Hans-Raoul
Hans-Raoul. Listen, did you meet Malevolent? What's happening?

Robyn tried to sit up, which set her head to spinning. She lay back down. Damn, she didn't remember drinking that much... hell, she didn't remember drinking at all... She glanced at the clock. How did it get to be nine PM already...

Hans-Raoul
Robyn, are you there?

Robyn
Yes, yes, I'm here... shut up for a moment, will you?

Hans-Raoul
Excu--

She dropped the receiver on the table. Slowly this time, she sat up, and swung her feet over the side of the bed. She tried standing, and slipped. Dammit! When did she break that heel?

Kicking her shoes off, she stood up. Going to the window, she pulled open the curtains. The last traces of sunset still clung to the horizon. She tried to remember what had happened after she'd left Bob and the kid, and how she'd gotten back to her room. Had he drugged her somehow... ?

She remembered Hans-Raoul, and went back to pick up the phone.

Robyn
'Kay, talk. But softly, I've got a killer headache.

Hans-Raoul
Robyn, are you okay?

Robyn
Yeah, I'm fine... I had a few drinks with Malevolent, I'm just feeling a bit rough.

Hans-Raoul
I thought you held your liquor better than that... So, what's going on? Any business?

Robyn
Sorry, sweetie. He doesn't have the guy we want. He tried to act like he did, but I cut through that quick enough. Frankly, I think I'm on a wild goose chase.

Hans-Raoul was silent for several breaths. When he spoke, it was with a calm in his voice that would have made Bob Malevolent green with envy.

Hans-Raoul
Robyn. Have you turned on your TV the last two hours? The radio? Been outside?

She hesitated.

Robyn
No... why?

Hans-Raoul
Boise is all over the news. I've been watching scenes of the downtown covered in silica. Apparently six office buildings turned into some kind of crystal and then exploded.

Robyn
What?

Hans-Raoul
In the last hour, I've seen this "Grayhound" interviewed by CNN, ABC and CBS. Each time he's made the same bland comments about an ongoing USHA investigation. The US Geological Survey's trying to pass it off as an extremely rare but natural geological event. Right now I'm listening to some idiot named Sullivan blithering about "upwelling magma". Robyn, tell me something!

Robyn
Ah... I don't know... that's the first I've heard of it...

Hans-Raoul
I can tell.

Robyn
Hans-Raoul, I'm sorry, I'll call Malevolent back --

Hans-Raoul sighed.

Hans-Raoul
No, forget it. I've booked you on NorthAir, the flight leaves at 7:45 AM. Get a good night's sleep, stay away from the bar, and get out of there. The whole thing's too high profile all of a sudden, the only thing we can do is lay low and see what develops over the next few weeks.

Robyn
I'm sorry...

Hans-Raoul
Yeah, me too... I'll pick you up at the airport. Sleep well.

He cut the connection. Robyn put the phone down and sank back on the bed. A feeling of dread she hadn't felt in ages started working its way up from her stomach.


Mark walked stiffly into the clinic's waiting room, looking pale but well. Bob brightened up with relief. He exchanged a few words with the doctor and some plastic with the receptionist, and a few minutes later he was driving Mark home in the old truck.

"Thanks, Bob," said Mark. "Really. You've been the nicest guy, ever."

Bob smiled. "Thanks. I'm just sorry all this had to happen the way it did."

"Yeah." Mark breathed an exaggerated sigh. "Man, what a day."

Bob nodded. "I'll say. You were incredibly lucky. I'll bet you you'll only be able to skip gym for a week."

"Sure, dwell on the negative already... Dr. Fingold's a pretty nice guy."

"He is. He's very discreet, too. I've used him before, he has a kind of arrangement with my college."

"Good. Mom and Dad would freak if they found out about this..."

"I'll bet...," Bob drove in silence for several blocks. When he finally spoke, it was in an extra serious tone.

"Mark, it's time I told you the truth about all of this."

"Like why that woman was after me?"

"Among other things... Mark, I'm what's called a 'chaos advocate'. What some people call a 'supervillain'."

Mark laughed. "You?" He stopped laughing when he saw Bob was still completely serious.

"Yes. We don't all wear capes and metal helmets. At least not until graduation... That woman Robyn Cheung worked for an organisation that's been involved -- well, that's been trying to kill people like you, with powers over chemical elements."

"What do you mean, chemical elements?"

"Think, Mark. You can manipulate glass and computer chips, right?"

"Uh huh..."

"Those are both made of silicon. Remember your periodic table, from chemistry?"

"Yeah... I guess so."

"You can control the states of silicon atoms. That's how you can fix circuits, even though you may not realise it. You're what some people have started calling a silicon 'Elemental'."

Mark listened silently. He felt... he didn't know what he felt. He knew that he should tell Bob that what he was saying was crazy, but he knew instinctively that he was right. He felt something like relief, finally being able to put a name to these tricks he could do, and something like fear. The fear of standing at the edge of something he might not be able to back away from.

Bob continued. "Remember you told me about that 'pole' in the alien's ship that zapped you? I've seen something like it before, I think... I think it boosted your power, dramatically, so much so that you've been doing some really big stuff without realising it."

"What do you mean?" Mark felt something like a skipping CD.

"You know those weird crystals downtown? I think that was you."

"What?! How could that be me? That was when I was spying on you and that woman, I wasn't thinking about making giant perverted crystals, I was thinking about -- oh."

"Don't be embarrassed. It happens to all guys your age, just not on that scale."

"But... then why did I get... blasted like that?"

"I think that's when our friend the Grayhound sent some kind of power surge into the crystal. It destroyed the crystals in the city and knocked you flying. At least, that's what I think happened. They didn't say what he actually did on the radio, but I probably would've tried something like that in his place."

"Dammit! I HATE that guy!"

"Get over it."

Mark looked at Bob in disbelief. "Why?! You're a 'chaos advocate', right? Doesn't that make you the Gayhound's enemy?"

"That's business." Bob sighed. "Mark... when I first figured out what you could do, I thought I might be able to take you under my wing, so to speak. Give you a hand with your powers in a way that would help both of us, and keep you out of the way of people like Ms. Cheung. But this afternoon proved I can't. Yet."

"You think she'll be back?"

"Maybe. Maybe other people. Mark, I think there's only one person who can help you, and it's not me. With your permission, I'd like to help you get in touch with him."


A sombre mood pervaded the Grayhound loft. Chris sat channel surfing on the couch. Deuterium Boy was re-bandaging Hydrogen Guy's hands, while JB sat at the kitchen table staring at a glass of milk, trying to duplicate Hydrogen Guy's phase separation trick. So far he had mastered forming bubbles, boiling it, and even setting it on fire. The second time this happened, Chris got up from his seat, took the glass, and dumped its contents down the sink.

Puppy Boy
Sorry.

Chris grunted.

Hydrogen Guy
A little less back-spin, I think JB.

Grayhound
This is getting us nowhere.

Puppy Boy
We can't do it all in one night, Chris.

Grayhound
We have to do something. Hydrogen Guy and the Detective both agree that somebody matching Bob's description had been in that warehouse and carried someone who was bleeding out the back. That can only mean he's got the Elemental. So Bob's already got a kid who can turn buildings into crystal and a she-demon who spits fire. I don't want to wait and find out what happens if that Hanson-Julius guy shows up.

Hydrogen Guy
Hans-Raoul; and, at this point, I don't think he will. Cheung's probably gone by now, too. HR's obsessive about keeping out of the spotlight, and with all the publicity this afternoon's fun's been getting, he'll probably back off for a while. See, grabbing headlines is a good thing sometimes...

The Grayhound scowled.

Grayhound
Still, that leaves Bob with the Elemental.

Hydrogen Guy
Right. Our only choice now is to set up a couple more silicic acid detectors and start a street by street search.

Deuterium Boy
At least you won't have to buy sand this time...

Chris wandered disconsolately back towards the entertainment centre.

Grayhound
We should've started that this afternoon, instead of trying to think up some smart way...

He trailed off. He was staring at his pile of Dreamcast games, next to the empty spot formerly occupied by his console.

Puppy Boy
Chris? What's wrong?

Grayhound
Oh my God... I'm an idiot!

Hydrogen Guy
I couOWW!

Deuterium Boy jabbed him in the palm.

Grayhound
I had him! I had the silicon Elemental in my hands this afternoon! Cripes!

Deuterium Boy
What? When?!

Grayhound
At the gaming store in the mall. This kid hacked my Dreamcast to play X-Box games without cracking the case!

Hydrogen Guy
He manipulated the silicon chip...

Grayhound
I had him banned from the store. He whined that he had a bunch of stuff on pre-order. They must still have his address!

JB's eyes widened.

Puppy Boy
Great Mario's Hammer! Chris, that's brilliant!

He looked at his brother in admiration. Deuterium Boy simply looked confused.

Deuterium Boy
Great who the what now?

Chris leapt for the phone.

Grayhound
I'm gonna call Tommy, he can look it up on his computer and tell us where the punk lives right now!

Puppy Boy
Chris, it's 9:30 at night!

Grayhound
It's okay, I'll call him at home.

Deuterium Boy
You have the gaming shop owner's home phone number?

Chris hit number six on the speed dial.

Grayhound
I take my hobby seriously... Hey, Tommy? Chris Reid. Listen --

Just then, another phone rang. Hydrogen Guy realised to his surprise that it was his. He looked at his gauze-swaddled hands in consternation.

Hydrogen Guy
DB, could you ... ?

Deuterium Boy
Sure.

He took the phone from HG's Useful Things belt (thankfully, it was in an easily reached an non-embarrassing spot), pressed talk and held it up to HG's ear.

Hydrogen Guy
Hello?

Bob
Hydrogen Guy? Hi, it's Bob Malevolent.

Hydrogen Guy
B--

Bob
Please don't say my name out loud. I know you're at the Grayhound's and I don't want them to know it's me you're talking to.

Hydrogen Guy
How did you get this number?

Bob sighed.

Bob
Let's just say that I now owe someone about a half a ton of premium North Atlantic brine shrimp. Hydrogen Guy, I want to be quick. I have something you're looking for and I'm willing to let you have it, no strings attached. All I ask is a little discretion.

Hydrogen Guy
I'm listening.

He listened. JB sat in the middle of the two conversations - on his left, Chris was cajoling the owner of the gaming store to go in and find the name on his computer. On his right, Hydrogen Guy sat in stony silence. After a few minutes he gestured to Deuterium Boy to take a message. A second later he was quietly relaying a house address to his partner.

Chris and Hydrogen Guy hung up simultaneously. Chris was grinning triumphantly, while Hydrogen Guy looked thoughtful. He and Deuterium Boy were both staring at the scrap of paper in front of them.

Grayhound
Bingo! I played the superhero card, and even then I had to agree to let him wipe out my credit for that Final Fantasy III trade-in, but he'll do it. He should be faxing us the kid's address in about twenty minutes.

Hydrogen Guy grinned.

Hydrogen Guy
Sorry, Chris, I don't mean to upstage you, but... I've got the address right here.

He fumbled with the slip of paper. Deuterium Boy took it from him, moistened the back slightly, and then stuck it to Hydrogen Guy's forehead.

Hydrogen Guy
Thanks, DB.

Deuterium Boy
Don't mention it.

Chris's face had fallen several stories to the pavement below, and was waiting for the paramedics.

Grayhound
Where'd you get that?

Hydrogen Guy
An anonymous source.

Puppy Boy
Anonymous?

Hydrogen Guy
One of many I employ throughout the continent... I think we can trust him.

Chris ground his teeth.

Grayhound
We'll just see about that...

Twenty minutes later, a paper scrolled off the fax machine, bearing five lines of co-ordinates and a receipt for fifty dollars cancelled in-store credit. Chris checked it against the address Deuterium Boy had taken down.

JB hardly suspected his brother even knew those expressions.


Mark was relieved when he got home and found his parents were out. There are some things, he felt, that even they wouldn't be able to ignore. And Mark wasn't prepared to explain, not yet.

Heck, he could hardly explain it to himself.

About a quarter after ten, the doorbell rang. He didn't move to answer it right away. It's not that he was scared, it's just... well, all right, he was a little nervous. When the doorbell rang a second time, he slowly pulled himself off the couch and headed for the door. He looked through the peep-hole first, just to be sure it wasn't Robyn Cheung, tracking him down. He saw a fish-eyed view of the Grayhound scowling back at him, standing next to a slightly taller man dressed mostly in blue. He a shimmery cape, and was wearing a red tie monogrammed in yellow, with a yellow feather stuck in what looked like a helmet or skull cap of some kind.

Aw, jeez, if he ever started dressing like that, he'd turn himself into a rock and roll off a bridge.

Mark grinned at the mental image and opened the door.

 

Next: The Grayhound Chronicles, Chapter 34!

 


Previous Episode Hydrogen Guy Main Page Next Episode