Episode 5

So, he didn’t think it would be too much of a problem.
            This new guy seemed like a cool bro, probably one from a family of smart people who all followed Sloss too, because there was no other way to describe the guy’s awesomeness. Brendan had watched him throw that idiot Dac across the room, and had felt nothing but pure elation.
            This guy is awesome. Like, seriously, bro.
            Wait, what bro am I talking to in here? Is there another bro?
            Or maybe I’m going crazy, bro.
            Who the hell is the bro, bro?
            The team were loading up weaponry, shortly after Dac had recovered from being made an ass out of. He was still rubbing the sore spots on his torso where Trent’s beam had struck him, and was keeping his distance from him and Brendan. He threw the occasional dark looks at the two of them as well as Nick, who was liaising with Trent about where to start the operation.
            All Brendan knew was that he was in heaven; another Sloss follower was on the team. There was no way they could lose.
            “So,” Nick was explaining, “if we’re going to hit the supermarket first then we need a cover operation. We can’t just go in guns blazing.”
            Trent shook his head. “No, and I can’t just use my powers in there all the time. The medallion can’t be overdone like a laser pistol or something.”
            “So why would I not lose my immortality, bro?” Brendan asked. “Mary’s killed me dozens of times and it’s never worn off. Otherwise I’d be in trouble, eh?”
            “Some Sloss-given powers work differently to others,” Trent explained. “I channel my faith through the medallion, but I can only do it so much before the metal starts to burn.”
            “Fair enough, bro,” Brendan replied, laying a soothing hand on Trent’s shoulder. “I know you got tons of faith, eh?”
            Trent gave him a wary look, like a dentist trying to break the news of a child’s tooth decay to a parent, then made an awkward smile. He slowly pushed Brendan’s hand off before returning to the planning. “So, a front. I think I’ve got the perfect one.”
The doors to the supermarket burst open, allowing the rainbow coalition of CRUD agents to step inside stylishly. Dac, Nick, Trent, Brendan, Brandon, Jacob, Mary, Glen and Ash were all decked out in gaudy spandex that Trent had had in his basement for some reason – no-one was keen to investigate that further. Each of them wore a different colour, all forming a rolling mess of colour that utterly stunned all the onlooking shoppers and cashiers.
            Brendan thought the idea was genius.
            One of the cashiers approached them cautiously. “Uhm…can I help you?”
            “YES!” Trent shouted, jumping forward in orange and adopting a superhero pose. “We represent a very important agency.”
            “You do?” the cashier asked quizzically. “Is it the YMCA?”
            Trent made a ‘pffft’ noise and waved his hand dismissively. “No, of course not! We are from the Bicultural Underdog Tough-guys and Tough-girls!”
            The cashier thought for a moment. “The acronym for that is ‘BUTT’.”
            “Silence, fool!” Glen said, striding forward in emerald green. “None shall speak of the BUTT unless they have entered the BUTT!”
            “But I don’t –”
            “Speak not out glorious name!”
            “But –”
            “I SAID SPEAK NOT!” Glen gave a wide-eyed glare to the cashier before continuing. “We are here to carry out an inspection of this faaaabulousshopping centre in preparation for a very special occasion!”
            “That’s right!” added Nick, walking over clad in crimson red. “It’s the annual Bicultural Underdog Tough-guys and Tough-girls Soiree Excluding Xylophones!”
            The cashier looked appalled. “But that acronym spells –”
            “WE KNOW WHAT IT SPELLS!” answered Glen, Nick and Trent in unison.
            Behind them, still in a haphazard line and with plastered-on smiles, Dac leaned over to Brendan and whispered, “This is so unsubtle. It’s so bad I don’t even have a quote to describe it.”
            “Did you bring your book along, bro?” Brendan asked, quietly wondering where he’d hide such a thing in that spandex without looking obvious or pregnant.
            “No, I didn’t.” Dac looked darkly over at Trent. “He convinced us to arrive with no gear; no armour, no weapons, no data devices. I mean, doesn’t that strike you as odd? Why would Nick be so quick to let us follow this guy without gear? And who’s going to believe we’re a flamboyant performance troupe interesting in double-checking the supermarket for xylophones?”
            Brendan shrugged. “I dunno, bro. He’s a Sloss follower, so we do everything he says.”
            “But why?” Dac asked insistently. “He’s given us no real reason to trust him, and yet you and everyone else is blithely following whatever he says. Seriously. What’s up with that?”
            Brendan pondered for a moment before replying. The answer was simple. “He follows Sloss. We follow him.”
            Dac rolled his eyes. “Great. Does that mean we’ll all get superpowers for believing in him too?”
            “Nah, you won’t.” Brendan turned back to look at the horrified shoppers. “Sloss doesn’t appreciate bitching, bro.”
“You have got to be kidding.”
            Doctor Dream observed the CRUD agents as they terrified the inhabitants of the local supermarket. The ten-span colours of spandex looked horrific, a fashion disaster if ever there was one, but it amused Dream to no end. They were being as unsubtle as it was humanly possible to be without utilising a bulldozer and several tons of dynamite.
            “So, they’re going after the generator,” he mused to himself. His minions were elsewhere, the Intern was out of contact, and Agent Driver was within the rainbow-coloured mess on screen. “Predictable. We’ll have them when they get below ground.”
            Who the hell are you talking to?
            Dream turned in the direction of the voice, still finding himself alone. “Who’s there?” he called to the darkness.
            Me, you idiot. I’ve been here all along.
            Still, no-one appeared. “You’re not here,” Dream said. “Have you hacked my Skype or something? You’re not one of those damned Canadian Girl Guides, are you?”
            No. The voice sighed. You know who I am, Doctor. You ate me.
            Dream paled. The voice was starting to sound familiar. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
            Oh come on, Dream. You remember me. I’ve never been far from your thoughts since you ate me whole. You may not remember my real name, but you know the name you gave me. The name the others gave me.
            “STOP!” Dream suddenly screamed, starting to sweat with terror. “No, you’re not real! You’re not goddamn real!”
            I am real. I am still inside you, where you left me, and I always will be.
            The voice paused, and Dream started breathing heavily. “This isn’t happening. I should be focusing on that team. They’ll be encroaching on the generator soon.”
            Ah, yeah. Those guys. I’ve reassumed myself to help them out. Figured they could use a hand.
            “NO!” Dream started hitting himself in the head frenetically. “No, get the hell out! Get out!”
            No, Dream. I will not get out. I’m sticking around to help them. You’ve got yourself the Intern at CRUD? Well, for now you can call me the Patient – until I tell everyone my real name. And on that day, Doctor Dream, you will fall spectacularly.
            Dream stood, still slapping at his head as if bees were attacking it. He bellowed out for one of his minions. “Somebody! Get me the neural probe! My brain needs an enema!”
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