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44. Campground

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Davy closed the door of the taxi. “At think at some point, we’re going to need a car or something,” he said.

“But I’m only a hundred points away from my cappuccino machine,” Steve whined.

“How many points do you have so far?” Connie asked.

“Eight,” Steve gloated.

They were in a heavily forested area next to a sizable pond. There was no other person in sight as the taxi drive away.

“Which way do we go now?” Olivia asked. “The Iron League has an appointment with justice.”

Connie looked down at her phone and gestures to a dirt path that followed the edge of the pond. “Looks like this path will take us straight to them,” she replied. “We can probably wrap this up quickly. I know a great barbecue place near here we can stop at for lunch.”

The group began to move down the path, Davy taking the lead. Olivia came up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. “So I might have some latent rage from last night,” she said matter-of-factly. “There’s a chance that I may unleash it indiscriminately on these guys when we find them. But I’ll make sure I hold back enough so that you can give Boss Stag a good, strong thwack on the head. I think that will be good for all of us.”

“Understood,” Davy answered. “You doing okay otherwise? Latent rage notwithstanding?”

“Oh yeah,” Olivia said. “My hang-ups about looking too weird suddenly don’t seem as big now that we’ve met the Iron League of Reference Humor.”

Steve grabbed Olivia and Davy by the shoulder and pushed them down behind a bush. They had arrived at a clearing. Through the bush, Davy saw a silver car about twenty feet in front of them.

Further behind the car, Davy saw an immense tent. Or a house. It looked almost like a three-story Victorian mansion. But it was made of canvas, like a camping tent. Strange colored light shone through the mostly opaque exterior of the tent. Davy saw the front door flap zip open. Boss Stag emerged from the flap, followed by the rest of the Iron League. They were still wearing their animal helmets, only now instead of gangster outfits, they were adorned in matching white track suits.

“Okay, how do we do this?” Davy whispered. “We probably don’t want to charge right at them again.”

“Maybe we can sneak up on them,” Steve answered. “Element of surprise and stuff.”

“Nice thinking, Steve,” Connie added.

Olivia nodded. “Cool, I can get up in the trees and easily get behind them without them seeing me,” she said. She looked at the other three. “How good aware the rest of you at climbing trees?”

“I’m pretty much an expert,” Steve replied.

“Okay, the two of us will climb up here,” Olivia continued, pointing to a nearby tree. “How are you two with approaching them from the front?” she asked Connie and Davy.

“I’m cool with it,” Connie responded. “We can come at them head on. Maybe we can even talk them out of whatever they’re planning.”

“Great,” Davy said. “If we’ve got them flanked, then maybe we can subdue them. Find out where the artifact is.”

“Awesome,” Steve chimed. “Let’s move out!”

Olivia went giddy. “Sneak attack time!” she whispered. She shot her arms into the branches had disappeared in one swift motion.

Steve ran to the trunk of the tree. He gripped it tightly and began to kick at the base of the trunk. Getting nowhere, he looked at Davy and Connie and gave an awkward smile. “Go on ahead. I’ll be right behind you.”

Davy and Connie crouched and made their way through the bushes. The leaned against the car and peered over it at the Iron League at the other side. Boss Wolf was breakdancing as the other three cheered her on.

“Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!”

Davy and Connie lowered their heads. Davy pulled out his golf club. He turned to Connie and asked, “Not like I’m an expert at all, but this could get violent. Do you have any experience in how to handle yourself in a fight?”

Connie smirked as she reached underneath her jacket with her left hand. Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Connie withdrew a gleaming silver katana from inside her jacket. “Yeah man,” she said. “You could say that.”

They were interrupted by Boss Wolf leaping over the good of the car and jutting her head between the two of them. “Here’s Johnny!” she shrieked.

Davy and Connie slowly lifted their heads over the side of the car. Boss Stag was looking at them, stroking an imaginary cat in his arms. Even with the majority of his face covered by the helmet, Davy could still sense the smugness eliminating from the leader of the Iron League.

“Well, well, we’ll,” he leered in a mock nasally voice. “If it isn’t Turd Ferguson from last night.”

“You know my name’s not Turd Ferguson, right?” Davy said back.

“Whatever you say, Turd Ferguson,” Boss Stag answered. He began pacing back and forth. “Are you out here scouting possible locations for the Turd Ferguson Center for Kids Who Can’t Stop the Iron League Good and Wanna Learn Other Stuff Good Too? Because that sounds like something you would do.”

Boss Wolf laughed from the top of the car. She jumped off and planted herself next to Boss Stag. Davy stood up and cautiously made his way around the car. Connie slowly followed.

Boss Stag saw Connie’s katana and began to laugh. “Oh sorry, it’s not Turd Ferguson we’re dealing with here.” He looked to the rest of the Iron League. “Hey look guys,” he sneered. “It’s Lone Wolf and Butthead!”

Davy ignored him. “What’s in the tent?” he asked.

“What’s in the box!” Boss Lion yelled obnoxiously.

Boss Stag chuckled under his breath. “Nice,” he whispered to Boss Lion. He looked back at Davy and Connie. “There’s a time and place for everything,” he said. “But not now.”

“Didn’t you do that one already?” Connie asked. “At the bank?”

Boss Stag didn’t follow. “So what?”

“I mean, don’t you like to keep it fresh?” Connie continued. “Like, you don’t want to just endlessly repeat quotes that you’ve already used hundreds of times already, right?”

Boss Stag looked back at Connie blankly. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

Davy held the golf club up to his chest. “Look, you guys are unarmed,” he said. “We don’t want a fight. We just want to know where the artifact is. If you return the money you stole, then we don’t can avoid this becoming a big problem.”

Boss Stag melodramatically held his hand in front of his chest. “Clutch the pearls!” he exclaimed with overt sarcasm. “I can’t believe I’ve seen the light! He began walking towards Davy. “Perhaps if we give these fine people what they want then perhaps we can avoid further bloodshed.” He stopped right in front of Davy as Boss Squid, Boss Lion, and Boss Wolf laughed together.

“Come on man,” Davy said, getting exasperated. “We don’t have to do this.”

Boss Stag nodded. “Sure,” he said. “Maybe instead, we can—SHORYUKEN!”

Boss Stag spun around and landed a powerful uppercut under Davy’s chin, launching him straight up in the air.

Connie instinctively extended her left arm, pointing her katana in Boss Stag’s direction. “You really shouldn’t have done that,” she said.

“Oh yeah?” Boss Stage leered. “And are you and those turd sandwiches you call friends going to do something about it?” He snapped his fingers at Boss Squid and Boss Wolf. “Come on folks,” he said to them. “Let’s put on a show.”

The two of them nodded and slammed their fists together. “Iron League powers, activate!” they exclaimed.

Boss Squid turned towards the nearest tree and charged towards it. He kicked his feet in front of him as his body became surrounded by flames. “FALCON KICK!” he screamed.

The tree violently reverberated upon impact with Boss Squid’s feet. A stunned Olivia tumbled onto the ground from the branches above.

Meanwhile, Boss Wolf extended her arm and a metal chain shot or from her sleeve into the bushes where Davy had been hiding moments before. After a second, she tugged on the chain and yanked Steve—tied up in the chain—into plain view. “GET OVER HERE!” she shrieked.

Steve was panicking. “They have reference-based powers guys! Reference based powers!”

Boss Stag gleefully cracked his knuckles as Connie looked around at her incapacitated teammates. “Now we don’t take kindly to trespassers out near our headquarters,” he said in a mock Southern accent. He looked towards his comrades. “Folks, let’s show ‘me what we do with trespassers.”

“You got it, Boss,” Boss Lion replied. “P.S. I love you,” she added under her breath.

“What?” Boss Stag snapped back, confused.

“Uh, nothing,” Boss Lion stammered. She turned to Connie and raised her fists in a boxing pose. “You’re about to get a pummeling,” she raised her fist in the air. “Cause I’m the champ, baby!”

Olivia saw Boss Squid standing a few feet in front of him. He raised his hands in a disrespectful salute. “Show me your moves!” he yelled.

“Uh, no,” Olivia answered. “Unless you mean this.” Her mouth opened wide and several tongue-like tendrils shot out of her mouth. Boss Squid rolled to the side at the last second and moved into a charge uppercut that caused flames to erupt around him again. He struck Olivia in the face, rocketing her upwards.

“Hyess!” Boss Squid chanted triumphantly.

Steve panicked as he fumbled through the pockets of his leather jacket. “Ember Sack of Unrelenting Sorrow, Ember Sack of Unrelenting Sorrow,” he mumbled as he searched his pockets. He failed to notice Boss Wolf charge towards him. She slid onto the ground into a splits and threw an upward punch into Steve’s groin. Steve buckled in pain and collapsed on the ground.

Boss Wolf looked to Boss Stag for guidance. Boss Stag looked back at her and gave a subtle nod. “Finish him,” he growled.

Having received her leader’s approval, Boss Wolf stepped back and shot out the chain from her sleeve again. It encircled and bound a whimpering Steve. She held the chain in both hands and began to spin. The centrifugal force threw Steve in the air. After several rotations, Boss Wolf finally let go of the chain. Steve was hurled at rapid speed away from the campground, becoming a speck in the sky falling towards the horizon.

Davy had managed to get to his feet. He saw Boss Stag staring him down. “Who are you guys?” he asked incredulously.

Boss Stag extended his arms straight in front of him, wrists touching and palms facing outward.

“Just a group of friends who are way, way cooler than you.” Light seemed to be gathering in front of Boss Stag’s hands. “HADOUKEN!” He shrieked as a burst of light exploded from his hands, colliding with Davy and knocking him back to the ground.

Connie was artfully dodging Boss Lion’s punches, but she was much more agile than Connie ever would have expected. “What’s your favorite flavor milkshake!?” Boss Lion yelled at her.

“Huh?” Connie uttered.

Her momentary confusion was just what Boss Lion needed. Connie felt a fist strike her hand, and they next thing she knew her katana was in the air, striking the dirt behind Boss Lion. “Mine’s chocolate,” Boss Lion exclaimed.

Olivia, crumpled on the ground, looked up. Boss Squid was standing right in front of her. He grabbed the cuff of her sweater and held her in the air. He pulled back his fist and Olivia groaned as flames once again began to surround him.


“Oh come on,” Olivia grunted. “Doesn’t this get tired after a while?”

Boss Squid ignored her. After a second, he thrust his flaming fist forward directly at Olivia’s gut.


And with that, just like Steve, Olivia was gone. A speck in the sky descending towards the horizon.

Connie tried sidestepping to either side to get around Boss Lion and back to her katana. It seemed like Boss Lion was able to predict her every move, however. As soon as Connie shifted her weight, Boss Lion was already moving in the same direction.

Suddenly, Boss Lion charged at Connie. She grabbed Connie in the collar in big hands and threw her up in the air. Looking down, Connie saw Boss Lion leap up straight towards her, her fist extended. Before the punch landed, Connie heard Boss Lion whisper in a gravelly voice, “Join the Iron League fan club today!”

“What does that even mean?” Connie stammered, but in another moment, Connie was another speck on the horizon.

Davy groaned as he laid on his back in the dirt. He tried to move as he saw Boss Stag stand over him.

Boss Stag sneered over him. In a gravelly voice, he said, “Go home and be a family man.”

Boss Stag picked up Davy by the back of his sweater. Davy assumed he was about to get super punched into the sky like his friends, but it seemed Boss Stag had a different idea, when he began to drag Davy towards the car.

“Don’t worry, I’m definitely going to sky punch you in a second,” Boss Stag said. He snapped his fingers and Boss Squid opened the front door of his car and pulled out a camera.

Boss Stag plopped Davy on the hood of the car and in leaned next to him. “Before you go, I thought it would be nice to commentate the moment,” Boss Stag continued. “You know, the moment you lost, because you suck and we’re cool.” Boss Squid came to the front of the car and held up the camera, pointing it at Davy and Boss Stag. Boss Lion and Boss Wolf huddled up next to Davy on the hood of the car and presumably smiled.

“You guys are so lame,” Davy stuttered.

“I know you are, but what am I,” Boss Stag snapped back, completely confident that he had just delivered the ultimate comeback.

He looked at the camera and held up two of his fingers in a peace sign. “Okay guys?” he said.

“Everybody say Fuzzy Pickles.”


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