By Jo Anzalone

"Cort, NO!" Terry screamed, his voice hoarse from having shouted, screamed, and sometimes

even shrieked for the last three weeks.


Cort was no longer listening. He'd gone out, alone, unarmed, practically unhanded since his

right hand had been so smashed in that less-than-fortunate Bugsy incident not so long ago.

Now he stood, looking very small, uber-vulnerable, facing the giant, large-toothed Frontonian

Flareback. What was even worse was the fact the Flareback was in hi-def and he was rather

fuzzy. Indeed, he felt fuzzy. Life had been like that of late...fuzzy, out-of-focus, filled with monster





He was tired, tired of it all, tired especially of the drool that dropped in slimy bucketfuls from

the mouth of one monster or another. He'd developed a rash from it in places he'd really rather

not mention. But he would. If you asked him, he would. That's how horrendous life had become.


Watching, Terry shuddered. Was this how it would end, all of it, everything? Would the world

stop turning, its axis rusted into immobility from caustic drool?  The alien invaders had, at last,

discovered the one fatal vulnerability of planet Earth. The ingenious Brain that was controlling

the take-over had determined that all it merely needed to do was to stop the Earth's rotation,

the laws of gravity would be voided, and the population would simply...fall off.


No. No, no, no! Terry would NOT let that happen! Never! Squatting, he gathered together his




So distracted was he by not only Cort's predicament but that of the entire Earth, that he

neglected the primary rule of the AKA (Alien Killers Anonymous): Never squat with your

back to an approaching lizard monster.


Alas, he was all too soon to discover the folly in such neglectation.



A vast cloud of floating drool particles temporarily blocked out the sun, enabling Terry to

change into his camo and grab an automatic weapon before the beast flipped him onto his back.


He knew Cort was occupied, probably being eaten, and so unable to offer little in the way of

useful assistance, therefore and quite reasonably, he screamed, "MAXIMUS!"


The General of the Armies of the North was unavoidably detained.



When it became obvious to Terry no help would be coming from the Spanish front, he tried,

"BEN!" but, alas and great alack, the reply he received was, "Not NOW! Dammit! I'm BUSY!"



It was true. Benjamin was busy. Being handcuffed didn't make fighting three-headed, bat-

winged monsters any easier, either. But he was managing. Ben always managed.


One was not quite so sure, howsomever, if the good Captain were going to manage. Things

were looking dire as to the possible results of his daily swim. If only he'd let the Surprise

sink this morning and not gone checking for gaping holes under the waterline, his chances

of survival might have been at least...somewhat...greater.




"What eludes me," Jeffrey said, quite sensibly, "is if the plan is for us to fall off Earth, why

are the monsters being so, well, monstrous to us?"  It just didn't make sense to him.



"JEFFREY!" Terry shrieked with what little remained of his voice. "Stop being philosophical about invasion methodology and RUN!"


That did it for his vocal cords. One should never attempt to shriek 'philosophical invasion

methodology' with an already-overtaxed windpipe, especially not over the continuous

rat-a-tat-tat of automatic weaponfire and the enormous plopping sounds of giant drool. It

was very possible the good Mister Thorne might never shriek again, not even if he were being

ground between lizard molars. But, then, do lizards actually HAVE molars? Do they not

simply slash and slice with sharp incisors? Dental questions were not currently uppermost

on Terry's mind.


They were, however, on Bud's mind. Well, more correctly, almost on his hands. He, too, had

had enough, enough and more than enough. His blood was up. Which was much better, of

course, than being down, especially down in some lizard's stomach.



The Wide-mouthed Jawsnapper had gone too far. It had invaded precinct headquarters and

squirted creeping vines all over the walls. Bud hated vines creeping on precinct walls. He

grabbed the Jawsnapper by its collar, lifting it off its seven webbed feet, hoisting it up toward

the hammered tin ceiling that was so in danger of vine creepingness. Without a sound, with

his anger blazing in his seagreen eyes, he threw the Jawsnapper backwards into the coiling,

writhing mass of vines, which instantly enveloped it. Bud stood there a long moment, still

silent, a deep frown line creasing his brow. These invaders had to be stopped, and stopped at

their source.  Turning on his heel, stopping only to pick up and pocket a handful of bullets,

he headed for the desert. Everyone knew alien invasions often started in the desert.


He was right.



Hands in his pockets, nonchalantly jingling his keys, he walked up to the first monster he

saw, tipping his head to one side, studying the weird mouth formation, trying to decide if this

one even HAD teeth. Before he could take any action, he heard a wail from just over a dune,

so walked briskly but not in any untoward hurrying fashion in that direction. Jeffrey was

there and had just poked out one of the eyes that littered the facial features of Smork, the

web-spinning spider monster.



"You'll be needing to wash that finger," Bud observed, coming up next to Wigand.


Jeffrey turned, spider eye goo dripping from his hand, looking at White. "Perhaps, Officer,"

he remarked, "instead of worrying about my finger, you might spare a glance behind yourself."


It was a wise suggestion, indeed. Whirling, practically yanking his gun from its holster, he

fired at Smork's cousin, Aracneed, who, having managed to elude the simplistic helicopter

chasing it over the barren slopes, was coming to the aid of its relative.



Jeffrey, bored by the whole thing, went home to take a nap.


But what of the most-excellent-in-every-way General? Where was he...now? One had to look

no further than the coastline for the answer. He stood, up past his adorable kneecaps, stuck

in sea-quick, a very rare, seldom-seen form of quicksand that lurked where beach met tide.

His doom was certain. Once sucked by sea-quick, there was no escape.



"Zzxdfreeenbluwpnv?" asked Migh-tor, the only good monster of the whole lot, and even he

was only reasonably good, not completely. He had, after all, destroyed the La Brea Tar Pits.

But, well, even monsters needed lunch.


Maximus was unsure. Migh-tor did have that spear clutched in his right, um, hand-thing. How

could he be sure of his intentions? But when Migh-tor extended his other hand-thing in an

obvious gesture of what one at least hoped was non-violence, the General responded. Thus it

was that the Commander of the Felix Legions was saved from entire ensuckation by sea-quick.

Had the newspaper office not been flattened earlier in the week, one is sure the event would

have made headlines.


Robin, alone of all the cast, had yet to be mentioned. Having sharpened his arrows by vigorously

rubbing their tips back and forth on the sidewalk, he was ready. Boldly he strode down the

street, following Triangulor, who was so intent on eating the large truck stopped in front of him,

he had no idea, none, not one, of the archer creeping up behind him, a sidewalk-sharpened

arrow aimed directly at the back of his pointy head.



The deed accomplished, Robin went in search of the giant chicken monster that had been

plaguing the Pacific Coast Highway.



It didn't take him long to locate it. All he had to do was follow the line of purplish plaid eggs

south out of the city.


Cort, you will probably be glad to know, had not yet been eaten. He had done the dreaded

sleeve-roll, and that alone had frightened the Flareback nearly senseless. Not that it had all

that much sense to begin with or it would have chosen another planet, one not inhabited by

eight such fearless, fearsome character folk.  The Flareback having departed, a giant, fanged

turtle attacked. Cort sighed, unrolled his sleeves, then rolled them up again. It was tiresome,

but it worked.



Jeffrey was resting, Benjamin was resting, though it might have been better if Benjamin had

not. Almost too late he realized he was being sneaked up upon by something large and very

furry that intended to throttle him with a gaily striped cord. Everything being in black and

white, alas, we shall never know just what colors bedecked the attractive cord.



Ben eluded the cord of unknown colors, sliding down the rocky slope on his rear, somewhat

damaging a few of the embroidery threads in his exclusively-designed black pants. That made

him angry. Standing, resolute, he waited for his attacker to appear over the horizon.



When it came, it was not the large furry thing with the cord of unknown colors. No, it was

something else entirely, something not furry at all, something completely cordless like the

latest iPhone.  It waved large, heavy pinchers as it came, its facial area lit by a series of

lights, also in unknown colors due to the nature of the film. The lights flashed in code, an

alien code Ben could not understand, had no wish to understand. Using only six bullets, he

shot out all eighteen or so lights. The man was...good.


Jack had made it out of the sea, dressing in full uniform as he quickly swam the 500 miles

to shore. He had been followed. Now he ran for his life, ran for the sake of everyone who

loved the way he tied back his blond hair with the thong before battle.



But...he was the Captain, dammit, and Captains did not run when pursued. No, they slipped

around the rocks, coming up behind their pursuers, their flintlock pistols loaded and cocked.



Terry had been carried by the bird monster, who appeared without warning in his storyline...



...and had been dropped by it atop the bridge, where he was now busily engaged in avoiding

crushation by giant octopus tentacles. It was not as easy as it looked.



The bird monsters were coming en masse, perching atop buildings hither and yon, mostly yon.



The most-excellent General, now freed from sea-quick bondage, was keeping an eye on them.


Speaking of eyes, one particular monster had one particular character in mind, as clearly

seen by the reflection in a single giant eyeball.



It was the unguardedly-napping Jeffrey it sought, and what it sought, it would find.


Jeffrey awoke, peering, still grogged by deep sleep, trying to determine the source of the

rancid smell coming from his yard.



He breathed a sigh of relief. He had, at first, thought the odor had been nicotine but it was only

a seventy-foot tall, sharp-toothed monster squashing his zinnias and much less deadly, as he

all too well knew.


Cort had faced off with more monsters than he cared to count.



Now, as he watched Terry run past, chased by the fanged turtle, he called out, "Roll up your

sleeves!" but he was not at all sure Thorne heard him.



Cort was distracted from the turtle by the all-too-familiar sound of railway cars being dropped

from a great height.



Turning, he looked up as the second car from the end was being devoured. He was disgusted.

There was no mustard involved. Repulsed by it all, he went in search of Bud.


Bud had had the luck to find the communications headquarters where the monster invasion

was being cleverly coordinated.



This was obviously the most intelligent, horrific, and well-constructed monster of them all!

Quickly he yanked the wires connecting the back of the coordinator to the control box. There!

Let them deal with THAT!


Now he needed to gather the characters together for a final assault and the invasion would

be repulsed, and repulsed invasions were his favorite kind.


He found Robin in the city, his eyes wide with the horror of the most recent sort of monster

to join the fray. "HOW," he cried, "how can we ever defeat such as THIS???"



"I have an idea," Bud replied, his voice quiet, steady. Bud was much, much smarter than anyone

gave him credit for. "Where is Maximus?"


"In there." Robin pointed to the county museum.


Yes, the General was there.



"General," Bud said, when Maximus had finished wiping the green gore from his blade, "I

have an idea."


Interested, Maximus went with Bud and Robin to a nearby Starbucks. Soon they were joined

by Ben, Jeffrey, Terry, Cort, and Jack. "This is what I have in mind," Bud explained and all

eyes turned toward the General. Yes, this should work.


"But," Bud continued, "I need the rest of you to distract the other monsters until Maximus

gets in position."


Ben grinned, picking up a Starbucks fork, bits of cinnamon bun stickiness still clinging to

its two tines. Switching the fork into attack position, his eyes fairly glowed as Boosra came

up just outside the plate-glass window of the coffee shop. "I'll handle this one."



Robin changed into Crusader garb for his mission, which was to present a poisoned crown to

Destructabus. In humble posture he carried the large golden piece of deadly headgear toward

Destructabus, all the while keeping his sword under his cape, except for the tippy tip which

just DID insist on poking out in the rear. Destructabus fell for the ruse, staring greedily down

at the crown, instantly lusting after its shining goldiness. As soon as he placed it on his scaly

head, he fell dead, taking down the remains of the building with him.



Destructabus' twin brother, Electrocity, was busily wrecking transformer towers. "No," Jack

said, placing his hand atop a reaching claw, "thus far shall you come and no further!"



All this activity gave Maximus the chance he needed to confront The Brain. It was something

only he of all the characters could do. He, in the mind and heart of the author, was and would

always remain the most-excellent-of-all. Quietly he knelt, sifting building debris through his

hands, watching it fall into the spreading pools of blood throughout the city. Just as quietly

he wiped his palms together, lifted his chin in that absolutely unparalleled noble manner of his,

and began to glow with that inner and pure steadfast heart and character only he possessed.

Standing, drawing his gladius, he went out to face The Brain.


Smiling, Bud watched the General walk, murmuring, "Maximus, Maximus, Maximus," in

a barely audible whisper. Yes, this would work.


The Brain, drawn from its lair by the onrush of goodness, glared at the glowing General.



Maximus spread his marvelously-formed legs, getting into striking position. Pulling back his

gladius, he gave a single thrust right between The Brain's glowing evil eyes. There was a snap,

a crackle, even a bit of a pop...and everything changed.


Cort ran out of Starbucks, out into the city streets, chortling, "He's DONE it!"  All the

monsters had been transmogrified instantly into marshmallows.



Ben, heading back to the coffee shop, his fork dripping lavender slime, grinned. "Look at

them there marshymallows, fellers. Anybody 'sides me feel like some hot chocolate?"








A tale of infestation, murder, revenge, and attempted escape.





Picture Sagas:


Mixed Up Maximus (a picture saga with all Russ' characters of the time as the General)


Aubrey's Parallel Attack (the Captain cleverly responds to the French, um, threat)



CORT DISTORT: giving, um, new meaning to certain events in

  The Quick and the Dead...25 pictures


OREGANO: a very mangled Maximus tale...20 pictures


HATNAPPERS: a tortured Terry tale...46 pictures


BUD ARRESTS HANDO: self-explanatory...ack!...38 pictures