Unfortunately, using compressed time causes a light fluctuation. No faster than I could go without Allen's Tachyon suit, it wasn't that noticeable, but it must've acted like a subliminal neon sign: "Abuse me! I'm a time-shifting practical joker!" In any case, they decided to take out their frustrations on a not-so-innocent bystander, and I prepared to defend myself. Even with time control, that could get tricky. Although I could punch them all over in a fraction of a second, the punches would be my usual pathetic ones. I figured I could dodge really well, though, especially since they put their guns away in favor of their fists. So I turned the controller on and sidestepped what was probably a lightning-fast jab. It was a great time for wisecracks, but whatever I said would emerge from the time field almost simultaneously as a jumble, so I kept my mouth shut.
It took me a while--maybe a couple seconds of regular time--to realize that Allen wanted to join the game. I jacked up my time as high as possible and said hello. "Not bad for an amateur, huh?"
"Not bad for a brainless monkey. In real life, I don't think you can wear a guy out by dodging his punches."
"I'm trying to avoid actual violence."
"I'll be sure to tell Charlie. You need to scare them off or at least discourage them a lot. If that fails, we could take their guns."
"We're trying to duck publicity, remember? What would we do with the guns?"
"Let Rod have 'em. With his Titan suit, he could make them into Art."
"And probably destroy some evidence. I doubt this is their first job."
"You'd rather have me fetch a cop? That's publicity too--especially if you're all dead when we get here. Just let me show you how it's done."
I rechecked the situation: The goons' fists had barely moved. I crouched below them, and the world went back into high gear.
The thugs gasped and almost stumbled over me, and the other two had a similar experience: synchronized wedgies. Allen was back in position, looking almost innocent. Rod roared with laughter. Then he just roared and reached behind him. The next thing I knew, the world had stopped again, and Allen was handing the controller back, a sheepish grin on his face. Oh, sure, so it'll look like my fault.
I was racking my brains for a way to one-up a mass wedgie when the opposition one-upped the whole business by drawing guns. That's when I had a really clever idea and nearly got us in even more trouble. I was just activating the unit when I noticed that Charlie was starting for me--a risky move under the circumstances. I granted him an audience--I was getting used to it, and I was wanting to brag a bit anyway.
"Tom, we need to go beyond wedgies," he said.
"Absolutely correct. And I just figured out how to use this toy as a weapon."
"That sounds drastic."
It is, of course. Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion!
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