Stuff That Happened to Thing #5
Part 13: Attack of the Killer Pacifists!

In our last episode, Thing #5 had yet another nervous breakdown. Hwango the Indistinct acquired a balloon. Albatross the One enraged the local townsfolk, who then formed an angry mob and began to chase all three of them. At the edge of town, Hwango was attacked by an expensive special effect.

The blazing ball of flame smashed into Hwango again, and he screamed in agony as its searing heat scorched his flesh. The force of the blow sent him flying into the wall of the nearby supermarket, which crumbled from the force of the impact. Hwango lay sprawled in a heap of rubble, obviously too dazed to defend himself.

"Go mysterious fireball!" Thing cheered.

Thunder rumbled ominously in the background, and suddenly a pelting rain poured from the sky onto them all.

"This isn't like last time is it? I mean, it's really raining hard this time, right?" Thing asked. As if in answer to his question, the rain began to fall harder, and puddles began to form in the parking lot all around them. The angry villagers, who had paused in their rampage at the sight of the raging orb of light, now turned and ran for the shelter of their pitiful village.

The ball of fire, however, seemed unaffected by the pouring rain, and readied itself for another strike. Suddenly, however, someone shouted "Away from him, entity of evil!" and a man dressed in a fluorescent orange uniform came flying out of nowhere and crashed into the ball of fire. It faltered, and the stranger dealt a powerful blow to what almost certainly would have been the chin of the fireball, were it to have such a thing. It wobbled for a moment, and then fell into a puddle, unmoving, where it sizzled quietly. Thing ran to its side and told it not to give up, but it seemed to be unconscious, and did not respond. He kicked it, and then howled in pain and fury when his foot ignited instantly. As he frantically tried to extinguish the flames in one of the larger puddles, Hwango pulled himself out of the ruins of the wall.

"It's the Heroes Who Thwart Evil Bad Guys!" he shouted excitedly, upon spotting the man in orange. Around him had gathered a small group of other strangers. The man in orange, the apparent leader, shook his head.

"Actually, no, we've changed our name to the more politically correct Legion of Thwarting," the newcomer said. "The use of the term "hero" could imply the absence or non-recognition of "heroines" in the team. Also, there is the possibility that we would thwart evil bad women." A nervous-looking teenager hiding partially behind him poked his head out a bit.

"It's actually due to a complicated government conspiracy," he said, looking at them meaningfully.

"Hush now, Paranoid Boy," the man said to the boy, who looked at him suspiciously, but backed down. "I am Captain Obvious. This is my sidekick, Paranoid Boy," he said, gesturing to the nervous teenager, who now seemed to be trying to hide in his trench coat. "This is Thinks Ahead Man," he said, pointing to a man dressed in a warm jacket and rubber boots who was carrying a huge sack over his shoulder. He was holding a large umbrella over his head, shielding him from the rain.

"Hi. I thought it might rain today, so I made sure to dress warm and wear my boots," said Thinks Ahead Man, who then splashed his foot in a nearby puddle for emphasis.

"Good thinking, Thinks Ahead Man!" said Captain Obvious.

Thing had managed to extinguish his foot, and stood in front of Captain Obvious, glaring at him. He was just about to launch into one of his frequent screaming fits, when Captain Obvious cut him off.

"This is the Master of Apathy," Captain Obvious said, pointing to a bored-looking man sitting on a nearby rock. He whispered conspiratorially to Thing, "Sometimes I worry that he's not really that committed to fighting evil." He turned to the Master and shook his fist in the air dramatically. "Ready to fight evil, Master of Apathy?!" he said.

"Whatever," said the Master of Apathy.

"Are you a robot?" Hwango said as he knocked gently on the arm of the huge metal figure standing next to him.

"No. I'm wearing an exoskeleton," said a female voice from within the hulking suit of mechanical armor.

"Oh. Pardon me. What's your name? Exoskeleton Girl?" Hwango guessed.

"That would be childish," the voice replied sternly.

"Um," Hwango thought a moment, and then guessed, "Exoskeleton Woman?"

"My name is Jessica."

"Oh," Hwango said, and thought for a moment. "Don't you have a special hero-type code name like the others?"


"She has nifty armor," said Captain Obvious. Thing just stared at him. Captain Obvious seemed not to notice, but that was pretty unlikely, considering who he was. Nevertheless, he continued with the introductions, pointing to a woman dressed in some sort of padded armor that covered everything but her face.

"This is Token Female Member, our token female member," he said.

"Your what?" asked Hwango, clearly confused.

"Token female member. You know - every superhero team needs at least one token female member," said Captain Obvious.

"But you have Jessica!" said Thing, finally managing to get in a comment.

"That doesn't change the fact that we need a token female member."

"Aren't they usually included for the sole purpose of wearing form-fitting or revealing outfits and" Hwango asked, a bit uncomfortably.

"Usually. But Captain Obvious pointed out that costumes like that tend to afford little protection against the sort of violence heroes such as ourselves usually encounter. He felt that we should pick whatever outfits we wanted," said Token Female Member.

"The Master of Apathy wears jeans and a t-shirt," pointed out Captain Obvious.

"Yes, we can see that," said Thing, irritably. "What the hell do you think you're doing here? Aren't you supposed to be in that other story?" Captain Obvious looked a little uncomfortable.

"Well, yes. But it's been about eleven years, and nothing's been added to Episode Two in all of that time. I think that particular project might be defunct," he said, obviously disappointed. His expression brightened suddenly, and he said, "However, this story really seems to be going places. I mean, look at this special effect!" he said, gesturing at the inert ball of flame. Thing seemed about to scream something else, when suddenly Captain Obvious seemed to notice Albat for the first time. "Egads - a pirate!" he shouted, and seemed about to attack Albat, when Hwango interrupted him.

"Wait - that's not a pirate, that's just Albat!" he said. Captain Obvious hesitated, and glanced uncertainly at Hwango.

"But he's dressed as a pirate," he said.

"He is?" Hwango said, turning to look at Albat more closely.

"I knew we should have asked for more details when he showed up," Thing grumbled.

It was true. Albat was indeed dressed as the stereotypical pirate, complete with an eye-patch and three-cornered hat. He lacked a hook in place of a hand, however, and the presence of both of his natural legs meant that he didn't have a peg leg either. In his favor, he did have a green parrot on his shoulder.

"Is this a problem?" said Albat.

"Of course it's a problem!" shouted Captain Obvious. "Pirates are evil, and we are sworn to thwart evil! Prepare yourself to be thwarted, you foul, evil-doing, pirate!" Captain Obvious lunged at Albat, who dodged to one side and ran to hide behind Hwango.

"Wait!" Hwango cried. "Albat's just dressed as a pirate! He's not a real pirate."

"How can you tell?" asked Captain Obvious, pausing.

"For one thing, he doesn't talk like a pirate. Why, he's been hanging around with us for about six episodes now, and I've never once heard him say 'shiver me timbers,' or 'ye scurvy dogs,' or even 'ar' for that matter," Hwango said, rallying to the defense of the member of their trio who didn't constantly beat him and call him an idiot.

"That," Thing added, "and we've never once seen him engage in any actual acts of piracy." Thing saw no particular reason to defend Albat, but had taken an instant dislike to Captain Obvious, and was eager for any opportunity to make a fool of him in public.

"Oh," Captain Obvious said, relaxing a bit. "Well, I guess that's all right then."

"What are you doing here?" Hwango asked him, trying to change the subject.

"I just explained that. You see, the other story -" Captain Obvious began, but Hwango cut him off.

"No, no - I mean geographically here."

"Ah," Captain Obvious said, understanding him, "We have come to the Castle of Infinite Despair to thwart the evil that lies within," he said, gesturing towards the monolithic edifice of darkness standing next to the supermarket, which our intrepid trio had apparently totally failed to notice before now.

"Well, if the narrator would do a better job of describing each scene -" Thing began to complain, but was interrupted when suddenly an enormous squid-like entity flung itself from the towers above them and landed on Hwango.

The beast was at least twenty feet long, and sported at least a dozen sinuously twisting tentacles, many of which were now coiled around Hwango, ensnaring him firmly in their sucker-coated grip. There, is that enough of a description, or would you like to know its weight to three decimal places?

Thing ignored the narrator, however, and simply blinked at the creature, commenting in an offhand way "Now there's something you don't see every day." The Legion of Thwarting were just about to attack this new adversary, when it gave a piercing shriek and leapt forty feet through the air, back over the castle walls, with Hwango still held tightly it its tentacled embrace.

"Oh no!" shouted Captain Obvious, "Hwango has been seized by some sort of monstrous fiend and carried off into the Castle of Infinite Despair!"

"It's all part of a plot!" screamed Paranoid Boy, nervously.

"I thought something like this might happen," said Thinks Ahead Man.

"Whatever," said the Master of Apathy.

"Token comment from a female member," said Token Female Member.

"How awful!" said Jessica.

"By Neptune's flippers! Thar be no beast more foul in all the seven seas!" said Albat, but then he looked around nervously and said, "um, I mean, uh - how unfortunate!"

"Fooey," said Thing. Albat was surprised by this comment, considering Thing's previous cheering for Hwango's demise at the hands of - or, rather, flames of - the special effect that had attacked him before. He raised his eyebrow at Thing and looked at him inquiringly.

"I just wanted to contribute," Thing said, somewhat pitifully.

“We must rescue Hwango from the Castle of Infinite Despair!” said Captain Obvious.

“Must we?” said Thing, clearly surprised by this news.

“Well, obviously we have to rescue Hwango, because Captain Obvious pointed it out,” said Albat.

Thing tried very hard to find a hole in this logic, but eventually had to concede that it stood to reason.

“Okay, we'll rescue him,” he said, sighing in resignation.

“What's our plan?” said Hwango.

“What are you doing here?!” screamed Thing, “You're supposed to be inside awaiting our rescue!”

Everyone turned to look at Hwango, but he was gone.

“It was a continuity error,” said Albat, "He was never here. Now, back to the plan. How should we get inside?”

“There's a door over there,” said Captain Obvious.

“I could easily break it down, but we'd almost certainly trigger an alarm. Maybe we should sneak inside," said Jessica.

“I thought we might have to sneak in, so I brought some disguises," Thinks Ahead Man said, rummaging around in his huge sack.

"Good thinking, Thinks Ahead Man!" said Captain Obvious.

Thing ground his teeth and seethed in rage. He wasn't sure how much more of this he could stand.

Once again, Hwango's balloon is in mortal danger. What will happen to it deep within the dungeons of the Castle of Infinite Despair? Will Thing #5, Albatross the One, and the Legion of Thwarting rescue it (and Hwango) before the end of the episode, or will this ridiculous part of the story bleed over into yet another episode? Why do I keep asking you these questions at the end of the episodes?

Tune in next time for an episode written and directed entirely by my left foot!

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