JS and the gang arrived at their original destination to meet Bog-Gob's guy.
To Sigma-Max's shock, it was Lovely's VHS Video.
JS was equally shocked.
The van pulled into the parking lot of a complex with a strip mall on either side.
To their left, Hannalee's (a grocery store), Bradford (a department store), and a donut place.
To their right, Lovely's, a hair salon, and a small bank.
JS was surprised, because Hannalee's was where he first saw the green mask that inspired the Jade-Shade mask, and the parking lot that joined the two strips was where he ran into Brad and Chad and their pals on his very first patrol.
JS, Sigma, Boggy, and Boggy's guy shared stomping grounds, and none of them had even known it.
They parked, piled out of the van, and Boggy lead the way into Lovely's.
Sigma's co-worker, Steve Ellicott, let them in without the slightest bit of surprise.
He almost seemed to JS like he was expecting this meeting.
Steve was a big guy, both in height and belly.
No health nut was he.
He looked to be in his early 60's, with a full head of grey hair, and a grey mustache with a brown stripe on one side where the color hadn't given up yet.
He wore a t-shirt with the store logo, jeans, and sneakers.
He put up the "closed", sign, and showed them to a back room where they could talk without prying eyes and ears.
Sigma unmasked, and once again, Steve wasn't surprised.
Ditto when Boggy unmasked.
"Okay, so how do you know this guy?", Sigma/Chuck asked Steve of Boggy.
"He's my son".
Sigma/Chuck looked shocked, then hurt that he'd kept such big secrets.
"Captain Descrambler? You have kids? We've worked together for years, and this is the first I heard of any of it!", again with the pained look.
Steve pulled out a homemade tape from a locked drawer on his desk, and slid it into a nearby VCR.
On an old CRT TV, static-y video of a young Steve Ellicott in his 30's in the 1980's played.
He wore a silver spandex outfit with purple boxer shorts and a chest symbol of a snake coiled around an old 80's style giant satellite dish.
A fake domino mask was painted around his eyes in blue greasepaint.
This was obviously Captain Descrambler.
In the video, he ranted about the cable companies and their unfair dirty business practices, and it became quickly clear that this was a pirate video that he had hacked onto the primitive cable system of the day.
The tape played multiple variations of this spiel, and then slightly cleaner looking clips of a legitimate movie hosting show on cable access.
Steve explained that his fame from the prior incidents had gotten the people behind him, and to sort of buy him off, he was given the show to shut him up.
It lasted 10 episodes before the anti cable company rants leaked back in, and he was fired, and sued.
He'd avoided fines and jail time by the skin of his teeth, and then went under the radar for the next thirty years.
He stayed a pirate though.
Hacking satellites, trading tapes, right on up to the modern online piracy era.
Along the way, he survived, and buried enemies, like Bunker-Buster, and Firebox.
Through it all, he kept the store afloat.
But now, it looked like the streaming sites like Cinnygrid were going to finally get him.
JS held his tongue about Chokie's involvement with Firebox.
But Steve had one last defiant spit in the eye for Cinnygrid.
He showed them the Sigmamax mark 1 player rigged up as a piracy server hidden under his desk.
He was the Steve in Stevetorrents, the world's biggest file-sharing site.
Had been all along.
The Sigmamax player/server was simply the crown jewel.
All of this Boggy knew.
And Sigma knew about Stevetorrents.
But now, he told them about the bits none of them knew.
He had been one of the original Elisa Jack kids in the 50's.
And her school had indeed been a superhero recruitment school.
She had to be sneaky and covert about it, but it was no mistake or coincidence that so many superheroes had been popping up lately, and that they were all having this conversation now.
She was molding young minds to bring about the next Freed Radicals.
Steve's daughter, Edna, was carrying on the tradition at Elisa Jack as a teacher.
JS knew her well.
But, and he said this with a note of shame, the baby-boomer generation blew it.
Drugs, bullshit snake charmer songs by political hustlers, and idiot junkie novelists, being spoiled by their mommy's and daddy's lifestyles, a false sense of victory after Watergate, and the allure of money made their revolution decay and crumble.
"It was all supposed to happen then", he said "no more business criminals, no more religion, we were supposed to bring that garbage all down, and birth the new world. And it all fell to shit over stupid meaningless bullshit. I'm sorry kids, we blew it for you, we really did".
JS spoke up at last "it's never too late, my generation will try again. We're your second chance. Help us".
Steve thought about it for an awkwardly long time.
Finally, he said "fuck it, yeah, what the hell else am I doing? Waiting for cholesterol to put my fat ass in a coffin? Yeah, I'll come with you boys. Lemme go get the old suit on".
He pulled a taped up cardboard box out of a broom closet, and took it to the men's room, and locked the door.
45 minutes later, he was Captain Descrambler again.
Except graying, and with his pot belly hanging out.
He didn't seem to mind.
And him not minding made no one else mind.
As he had changed, the guys had killed time in the store looking at old tapes.
Avian Louse played an old 80's cabinet arcade game in the store called "Deadly Fire Ants", with giant ants that literally breathed fire.
He fantasized that they were burning down Hannalees and Bradford.
They'd turned down his application multiple times when he was a teenager.
Boggy was laughing at the box art to a flick called "Nostrilocalypse: Dawn of the Demonic Booger Eaters".
Commander Continuum was considering renting some sci-fi thing about three eyed critters from Epsilon Iotia Gamma or some such.
JS had hopped into the van, changed out of his duster, mask, and gloves, and gone incognito to Hannalees to pick up bread, milk, and Zam Bonies, Eidolon's favorite gothic skeleton cereal.
Chokie had given him a grocery list when he borrowed the van.
He came back, turned back into JS, and met Captain Descrambler.
Avian and Boggy rented their selected tapes from him.
Sigma locked up the store, they all got in the van, and Descrambler said "are you still recruiting? Cuz, I know a guy".
What I am Reading: - I’m almost always reading (at least) two books at once and working on comic books in between. Should you be reading what I am reading? I don’t know, but he...
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