Nodrog hurried into the pay phone in front of the local Circle K, ignoring two distraught looking young men. He hurridly fed thirty-five cents into the slot and, with shaking fingers, dialed in a memorized number.
"Hello? This is Agent Nodrog, LIE observation post... YES, I know this isn't a secure phone line... look, this is important! ... Yes, I know we have phone safety regulations for a reason ... THIS IS IMPORTANT! You know how we haven't seen the Fans recently? ... Yeah, the Sci-Fi club. I think they've been captured by FIB. ... Whatya meen so what? We got to rescue them! ... Yes, I'm serious ... WHY? Well, for one thing, they've got Agent Alisin! ... Agent Alisin isn't a LIE agent? But Miller knew she knew he couldn't... he made a mistake? But ... So, that's it? No LIE to the rescue? What if I call our rival orginization, TRUTH, with this information? ... *I* can't handle the TRUTH? Couldn't you think of anything less cliche to say?"
Nodrog hung up the phone, grumbling. He looked around, dug some more change from his pocket and a dirty piece of paper. He fed the coins into the pay phone and typed in the phone number on the scrap of paper.
"Hello?... This is Nodrog. I think something happened to the Sci-Fi club. Call the other Sci-Fi club auxillary/probationary members and meet at the back-up club meeting spot."
Nodrog hung up and walked out of the payphone, various theories concerning the possible location of FIB headquarters running through his head. So engrossed was Nodrog that he didn't see a nervous looking Pinkerton following Nodrog.
The "rival organization" to LIE is actually The Radical Underground 'Thusiast Haven, whose location is even more obscure than FiB's Headquarters. TRUTH has been the core of a vocal pro-fan movement for decades, and it is rumored that Jean Rodden Burry and George Lookus were both members in their youth.
* * *
FPilot had been watching the area around the Circle K with his binocs when he saw Pinkerton conferring with two youths standing beside a familiar '89 Camaro.
"This can't possibly be good."
The impromptu meet between Pinky and his boys wonder broke and FPilot saw the boys drive the Camaro following Nodrog's car. FPilot got out his cel phone and dialed the number for Nodrog's car--
"--We're sorry. The call can't be completed as dialed." FPilot put away the phone and slid down the ladder from the hangar roof to the tarmac of the airport ramp, where his trusty old cropduster awaited. He mused, "If you have to do something right..."
Tom the Fanboy
Tom reached out of his covers and flipped open his pac-man phone, before he could say anything the voice on the other end shouted at him,
"Hello? who is this?" Grumbled Tom, just now noticeing that it was 11:00 and he'd lost all rights to be indignant about being woken up.
"This is Nodrog. I think something happened to the Sci-Fi club. Call the other Sci-Fi club auxillary/probationary members and meet at the back-up club meeting spot."
"Um, OK. Why didn't you call The secretary about this? I'm the club scribe, I just keep the records not....hello? hello?" Tom realized that Nodrog had hung up on him and flipped the phone closed.
Tom pulled on his clothes and moved across his studio apartment to his computer. After clicking past his "Goat Belch" screensaver he pulled up his list of members.
"Let's see, he said to call up probationary and Auxiliary members.......it's to early for this. egghhh..." Looking at the list Tom considerred who to call first. "Moved, moved, in jail, moved, graduated, married a travelling salesman, hasn't been seen since SeattleCon 99..........geeze, I guess this isn't going to take as long as I thought. I'll start with the secretary, it's not MY job to call people." As he dialed the phone to the talk to one of the few "auxilary members" to hold an actual position, he thought to himself Pass the buck Tom, pass the buck.
"Hello...yeah, it is. Listen we gotta get everybody together over at the theater.......yeah I know that's only for emergencies but Nodrog called me.........No, it sounded like something serious......OK, I'll take half the list and you take the others........FINE, I'll call the first half. See you in an hour."
OK, that's that. Who is the secretary? That's up to you the participant! If you want to recieve a phone call from the club record keeper (me) just go ahead and talk, don't worry about hat I say. Now I'm off to change my dossier and the website!
After climbing his plane out of the traffic pattern, FPilot made a circuit of downtown...and spotted Nodrog's car, still being trailed by the car belonging to Pi Rho and NonMugle. He picked up a squash ball to which he had rubber banded a note, and chucked it out the window. Half-playfully, FPilot noted the ball's progress:
"Off the railroad overpass, across the roof of the Pancake House, over Highway 9, off the telephone pole, down the drain culvert, off the curb, over the townhouse, bounce twice down the alley, nuthin' but Nodrog!"
The ball bounded into Nodrog's car through the open sunroof and wedged itself into the cupholder. Nodrog could read the note attached: You're being tailed by a primer gray Camaro driven by two FiB agents. Your call, use em or lose em. FPilot
Nodrog looked up, glancing at the rear-view mirror. The camero was still managing to keep up with Nodrog's mini-van, the only vehicle Nodrog had been able to find at the lot with enough headroom for him. He reached down to the cup-holder and picked up the large drink he had gotten at Circle K and took a sip.
Nodrog acked and dropped the cup, the ice and Mountain Dew spilling all over the passenger foot well and the various McDonalds wrappers discarded their. Glaring, he spat a squash ball, rubber band, and note into his hand. "Yuck" he muttered as he unfolded the note with his right hand, his left hand holding on to the stearing wheel. He scanned the note. "You're being tailed by a primer gray Camaro driven by two FiB agents. Your call, use em or lose em. FPilot"
"Duh." muttered Nodrog, tossing the squash ball and rubber band onto the passenger seat. He looked around, noting that he was next to a currently un-built lot.
Nodrog drove by a large sign reading Future sight of Con-Gyp-So West America Head Quarters. Current structure to be demolished by Ivanava Demolitions. 'No boom today. Boom tommorow. There's ALWAYS a boom tommorow'.
Nodrog parked his minivan next to a large metalic structure that looked vaguely like half of a dogbone shoved roughly into the ground. Nodrog managed to wriggle through one of the larger cracks in the base of the structure.
Inside the crashed Sattelite of Faans, the artificial gravity and lights still functioned, so that Nodrog was able to walk upright despite the fact that the floor was about a 80 degree angle to the ground. Nodrog pressed a button on the console running through the lobby, and then hid behind the remains of a large robotic arm, a gun clutched ready in his hand. Well, a super-soaker painted black, but still vaguely gun like.
"All right..." muttered Nodrog. "Remember, confidence... And hope F remembers Emergancy We're-being-Boarded Plan Alpha 3..."
No sooner did FPilot land, park, and tie down his airplane than Mr. Pinkerton approached him--tranq pistol drawn.
Pinkerton: We really need to talk.
Pinkerton faced FPilot calmly, his hands high to reveal the fact that he held a weapon. "I've left FIB, Mr. Pilot. I want to join you. I, and the organization I represent. The Solitary Hand Based Chemical Projectile Weapon People."
Inside the Sattelite of Fans, Pi Rho and NonMugle stepped into the bridge. Confident (well, hoping) that FPilot was watching his back, Nodrog stepped forward, his weapon pointed at Pi Rho. "Drop your weapons" said Nodrog, his two thick hands firmly holding onto his weapon.
"That's a water pistol." said Pi Rho. "What, got some battery acid in there?"
"Not exactly." said Nodrog. "Have you ever heard of Biomolecular acid? It eats through virtually any organic material. Only things that can contain it are plastic and glass."
Pi Rho frowned. "And where did you get this Bio molar acid?"
"BioMOLECULAR acid" said Nodrog. "What, doesn't my FIB file mention I'm a chemical genius."
Pi Rho and NonMugle exchanged glances. "No..."
NonMugle stepped forward. "He's bluffing... I'll bet all he's got is water."
Nodrog twisted and fired a stream right into NonMugle's eyes. A mixture of vineger, baking soda, and tobasco sauce hit, temporarily blinding NonMugle.
"I hate having my bluff called." muttered Nodrog as he fired at Pi Rho, and then raced deeped into the sattelite.
Pinkerton faced FPilot calmly, his hands high to reveal the fact that he held a weapon. "I've left FIB, Mr. Pilot. I want to join you. I, and the organization I represent. The Solitary Hand Based Chemical Projectile Weapon People."
FPilot: Are you, like, having a drug flashback or something?
FPilot: A splinter group of a splinter group, seeking to join another splinter group. At this rate Billberg's going to look like a toothpick factory.
Pinkerton just stood there, quietly fuming.
FPilot: I believe somebody has a general misunderstanding of my ecological niche in this political ecosphere. Come with me. It's easier for me to show you than to tell you.
Pinkerton put away his tranq gun and followed FPilot to a spot on the tarmac that was covered over with what looked like a steel slab. FPilot pulled out a remote control and hit the button on it. The slab split in two and a cargo elevator car rose up from underground. FPilot opened the car's door and let Pinkerton inside before entering and closing the door behind him. The elevator then descended back to the depths from which it came.
* * *
FPilot: The Airport Authority conveniently forgot that this vault ever existed. I found it through some documents that were part of my settlement from my brief government career.
They had arrived at the main space of the bunker, a ready room that now was mostly used as storage space. Beyond that was a launch gantry--big enough to handle an ICBM with space left over for a battery of SAMs. Of course, none of that ordnance was on-site now.
FPilot: I call this place the Doofer room. A treaty with the Russians made it obsolete even before it was finished. There is a maze of tunnels the next level down. I don't know where the tunnels end. All I know is that some of them are flooded, and there are bats in others. The bats are okay neighbors, but I don't like disturbing them.
Pinkerton (getting slightly annoyed): Interesting tour, but I don't see why it's so--
FPilot pulled a photo album from a shelf and handed it to Pinkerton.
In the photo album were dozens of snapshots, both SFC members and ASFC members: Guth, Rikk, Will, Kath, wish, Nodrog, Muttley, Juzda, gwalla, Doublespeak, jarnor23, etc.
Then Pinkerton came to a page of Thack pictures, from long before his attempted coup of fandom.
Pinkerton: How did you know...?
Tom the Fanboy
Tom was getting bored. He'd called all of the people on the list and found only answering machines and voice mails. He'd gone to the community theater and not only had there been no-one there, but he was locked out. After about a half hour on the curb he decided that whatever Nodrog's "emergency" was it couldn't be that big of a deal.
As he walked to the Pizza Schmizza across the street from the theater, Tom sighed. I wonder what's going on. Nodrog seemed razzled but he isn't even HERE! Tom ordered his slice of Sweet and Sour Chicken and went to the cooler.
"What!? No Afri cola? Oh well, I'll just have to go with my back-up....." Tom's hand stopped on the Jolt Cola as he realized what he'd done. "Oh damn! I told everyone to go to the SECONDARY meeting place!!! Nodrog said the BACK-UP!!!"
Tom hurriedly grabbed his slice of pizza and soda and went back across the street. Using the paper platefrom his pizza he scrawled out a note and jammed it in the mail slot. The note read "Sorry, mix up. SFC members go to SoF ASAP."
"Let's hope the others notice this." Tom mumbled through his pizza as he walked his mountain bike down the street. As soon as finished his pizza he slid the cola into the bottle holder and rode as fast as he could for the SoF crash site. "Boy am I embarrassed. I'm sure Nodrog will be VERY amused by this."
Muttley was just finishing a beer when the voice interrupted him. "Orange Alert; Orange Alert" it squawked, apparantly from the wastebin. Twitching slightly he shifted the mass of wadded-up paper and retrevied the cellphone Gotta change that ringtone. Things are getting too much like the Prisoner for it to be funny anymore.
"What - - - and where's that? - - - OK, and you want me in character? - - - Oh, make it easy will you!".
Something quick is needed. "No, I'm not shaving the beard off, but that camera with all its net and video links will surely be useful. And if I run out of ideas, I can always hit someone with it." An overcoat completes the look, and provides storage space for the Andorran Navy Knife, the cellphone and a few other gadgets. . .
Its not far to go. He looks at the helicopter, but never did like something that kept up by waving its arms in the air. In the corner, a black BMW trail bike is propped.
A wry smile crosses his lips as, helmetless, he guns the bike away under a sign reading "Max Headroom 2.3m".
FPilot: You know it by heart.
FPilot: The disclaimer...
Pinkerton: "If anybody on your team is caught or killed"--
FPilot: Agent Calabreze was caught. Agent Tuskes was killed. And Agent Bierce's actions were disavowed by the Secretary. All because of the actions of Agent Sieughiewiecz. Thack was only part of our team because he wanted to sneak into TRUTH and join them. He sold us out for TRUTH, and then TRUTH blackballed him for his trouble. No wonder he went on his Roman Holiday.
Pinkerton: Didn't Jones know about this?
FPilot: FiB and my outfit had no "document of understanding". We shared no records. We couldn't subpeona or affidavit one another. At first I thought Thack was a mole for FiB. Then I thought he was with LIE. LIE may have evidence to that for all I know, but Thack was a definite surprise to FiB. At the heart of it all, Thack was out for himself. Which is probably why TRUTH wanted nothing to do with him.
Pinkerton: So, where is TRUTH?
Nodrog, by this time, had manage to scramble inside Cambot's tunnel. To be more precise, he had managed to get himself STUCK inside Cambot's tunnel. He grumbled, trying to squeeze further his, his wide body sticking painfully to the doorways.
"Could be FIB?" he muttered to himself. "The Fans souls destroyed, losing their skills, does FIB have that tech? LIE doen't. TRUTH doesn't. New organization? Who?"
Nodrog suddenly froze. "Oh no..." he said. "It couldn't be... but if I know, and I know they have the technology to know that I know, then I know they could..."
Nodrog scrabbled in a pocket, dragging out an ink pen and a reciept for a water pistol, a bottle of shoe polish, a bottle of tobasco sauce, a bottle of vinegar, and a box of baking soda.
Nodrog scrawled the word SNAF on the back of the reciept and shoved it in his pocket. "Don't forget! Don't forget!" he told himself, even as he fealt the first waves of the Alternate Universe B-Mod Broadcast Software reached out to drain Nodrog's mind.
Nodrog screamed at a momentary sensation of great loss. "It's... It's... it's somebody else who did this... need to stop.... to stop whoever did... did whatever... it's... too hard to remember..."
Nodrog slumped in the tunnel, crying at the effort to remember. His loaded water pistol shattered on the floor of the tunnel.
Just then, the phone in the Doofer room rang. FPilot picked it up.
Voice on the other end: Priam's Neighbors.
The connection broke. FPilot put the phone back down.
Pinkerton: What was that?
FPilot: A cross-check. They're overdue.
Pinkerton: Who is overdue?
FPilot just smiled to him.
FPilot: We had better get out of this bunker. The bats will be getting active soon, and I prefer to eat someplace else while they're feeding. Do you like Czech food? I know a place on Highway 41...
The answering machine light had been flashing an insistant red for most of the day. Wish was studiously ignoring it. With finals just finished and a two weeks vacation from work, the very last thing she wanted to do was answer the damn phone. Especially THAT phone.
Wish sprawled out across her bed and rubbed the heel of her left hand across the bridge of her nose, leaving a long blunt smudge of grey graphite between her eyes like a curious burn injury. The drawing was not coming out. The proportions were all wrong, the composition unsatisfying. It was going no where. Damn.
The woman shifted one glacial shoulder and craned her neck towards the machine, which still flashed it's persistant reminder. Obligations. Obligations. Obligations are calling. The woman glared at the machine reproachfully. "This is all your fault, you realise." She growled, "I could be spending my downtime furthering my goals to be the next Rick Berry, but noooooooo. There has to be an emergency." Seconds came and went as fleet looks were swung from sketchbook to phone, and back to sketchbook. "Hell." murmured Wish, "I need some more acrylics before I can finish this piece anyway."
A chorus of squeaks and squeals from protesting springs turned the bed into a particularly surly-sounding musical instrument as the woman pushed herself to her feet. Crossing the small apartment with just a few firm strides, she nearly punched the answering machine off the small table in the hall in her forceful attempt to retrieve her message. "Probably just some poor telemarketer who'll soon be wondering why his checks have bounced, his credit cards have all been revoked, and his birth records have been erased." Wish gently massaged the knuckles of her right hand with the fingers of her left while waiting for the machine to retreive the message.
Finally, a familiar voice sounded from the speakers. The tall artist thoughtfully plucked at a tangle in her long hair as she listened to the information. Finally, when the machine spun into silence, she tapped her broad fingertips against the tabletop three times, and resolutely snatched up the mobile headset while heading back to the bedroom.
"Is this ticket purchases? Yeah.. One round trip to Billberg. Yes, the 'special' rate. I want to be there in three hours."
Pinkerton and FPilot were seated at the Czech restaurant, at a window overlooking Highway 41.
Pinkerton: This is too public a place for the conversation I want to have with you.
FPilot: Tough. You want the truth from me, don't you? Play by my rules for a change.
Pinkerton: A man who makes prank phone calls to government entities has rules?
FPilot: How do you know they're pranks?
Just then the waitress arrived with FPilot's catfish paprikash and Pinkerton's cabbage soup. She set the meals on the table and left.
FPilot: The truth is impossible to find without a consistant frame of reference.
Pinkerton: "Frame of reference." What might that frame be?
FPilot took several bites of his fish.
Cyber-Thack turned to face his friends. The harsh sunlight glittered off the metal exo-skeleton that had replaced Cyber-Thack's nervous system. Most of Cyber-Thack's nervous system had been fried in SNAF's climactic battle with Bif, a sacrifice Cyber-Thack had willingly made to destroy those annoying wishy-washer do-gooders. "Nodrog neutralized, sir." he said. "We haven't been able to locate this 'Pilot' person or this 'Wash' person." Sttim, in his of his large, spotless suits, carresed the metal sides of 'The Soul Drainer'. "Our Rirrom Universal Interface worked perfectly."
Behind Cyber-Thack and Sttim, the leader of the SNAF stood. He was dressed in his customary crudely-stitched black leather cat suit. A metal chain was held negligently in his left hand led to a spiked metal collar fastened tightly around his mostly-nude, petite oriental sex kitten, Rymu. "And our alternates?" he asked.
Cyber-Thack placed his fingers inside the small metal orifaces in the side of 'the Soul Drainer'. "Still neutralized."
Annash, a thin, shapely woman with tightly braided blonde hair, walked into the sun-lit area room.
The leader turned to face her. "Hello, Annash. Did you have fun torturing the woman I replaced as your leader?"
Annash smiled. "Yes, sir... I quite enjoyed torturing her. Thank you, Mr. Rikk..."
FPilot: A mirror frame.
Pinkerton: Just any mirror frame?
FPilot: Billberg's claim to international fame involves a mirror, you know.
Pinkerton thinks about the idea a moment...
Four hours after her impatient phone call, Wish and her rented Volvo four-door were gliding through the streets of Bilberg. A blue and white backpack slouched in the backseat next to a large green duffle bag and a grey fishing-tackle box with the words "Danger, Artist at Work" painted on the side in tall, uneven yellow letters. Most of the front seat belonged to a strangely curved pole about six feet long and completely covered in brown wrapping paper. Stickers shouting 'Dangerous. Handle with Care' twined up and down the length of the enigmatic 'stick,' an almost humorus afterthought. A plastic bag of assorted sodas and snack-food items huddled in the passenger-side floorboard. The white car sailed beneath a canopy of trees as its driver turned towards the community theater. Wish glanced at her reflection in the rear-view mirror and shared a smirk with her reflection. "Yeah, yeah, I know.." a low, amused grumble directed at her own reflected face, "it's probably just a false alarm. I'll bet that Godai got his hands on one of those fake Espisode Two scripts and Nodrog wants us to march on Lookusart Films in protest.
"Ah well... It'll be good to see everyone again, at least. And I guess I did need a break from the hometown monotony." The young woman grinned ruefully at the Pizza Schmizza as she passed it, clicking on her turn signal.
A quick left turn took the Volvo into the almost empty community theater parking lot. As Wish stepped out of the car, bookbag in hand, her eyes narrowed. Something was not quite right. No cars, no planes, no... explosions. Nothing that might suggest the Auxillary Club was anywhere within a two mile radius.
The change in her pockets jingled a little song as Wish walked up to the entrance of the theater and unlocked the door with one of dozens of keys on a heavy metal ring. Being a satilite branch president had it's perks.. even if she was the only member. Peering into the unlit depths, she remarked ominously to herself, "If you all dragged me out here for a prank... someone will pay dearly."
Just about then, she noticed something on the floor. As she bent forward to pick up the note, a shadow loomed over the slightly bent paper plate, accompanied by a gravely voice. "No prank. Just a little 'welcome back' party."
Wish spun, fists automatically snapping into defensive position. She found herself facing a massive hulk of a man, at least six foot five, wearing a ripped t-shirt and a knowing smirk. "Todd?!"
"You bet, babe." One huge hand reached for her, "It's party time."
Pinkerton and FPilot parted company after their lunch was finished.
* * *
Pinkerton was walking in Market Park, along the huge oval reflecting pool that was the center of the park. He had been trying in vain to reach his lieutenants by his cel phone, getting nothing but "that number is unavailable" messages. He was a couple paces from the huge globe on the south side of the pool when he heard a voice say, "Where are you going?"
* * *
FPilot spotted Nodrog's van parked near the SOF crash site. He parked his Mercury nearby and pulled a small case from under the seat. He mused to himself, "I haven't had to use this in years. Looks like I'll need it today though." He opened the case and slipped the contents up the sleeves of his shirt before leaving the vehicle and approaching the SOF hull. IP: Logged
Blondlot walked into Mr. Rikk’s office, smiling to himself as he noted his boss’s guards. Two of them stood nearby Mr. Rikk himself, while the other five lay sprawled out on the assorted couches placed artistically about Mr. Rikk’s 45th floor office, reading magazine or cleaning their nails. Mr. Rikk himself stood with his back turned to Blondlot, staring out of the tall, ornate windows.
"Ah, 'Dr.' Blondlot," Mr. Rikk turned to meet Blondlot's gaze. "You've kept me waiting far too long." Mr. Rikk was, for all intent of purpose, a very average looking male lost in an expensive suit. But there was some powerful force that he exuded from his very being, something charismatic. It made saying no to him hard for the weak-willed and Mr. Rikk knew it. Too bad Blondlot wasn’t weak-willed.
"It's a thing I do," Blondlot said, his smile widening. "They say it's the best way to enter into a party." Blondlot thought to himself, “I wouldn’t be back in this accursed city if I didn’t owe you, Mr. Rikk.”
"I'd hardly call this a party." Rikk turned his face back towards the windows. "More like a massacre. Do you have it?"
"The N-Ray?" Blondlot shifted the brown leather case in his hand upon uttering its codename. A series of red and blue wires ran up from the case, entering into the matte black, almost liquid surface of one of his gloves. The gloves were part of a suit. The suit was part of Blondlot. All together the entire package made him dangerous, something Mr. Rikk also knew well.
"Yes... The N-Ray. Still naming everything after that same scientist and his delusions, eh 'Blondlot'?"
"Like before, it's a thing I do."
"Yes, well this job will be simple; travel there and begin your project. Begin project Watchtower "
Blondlot bowed, mockingly, and began to back out of the room "I'll do as you command."
"Matth... Blondlot." Mr. Rikk turned, an earnest look flashing across his face. " You must succeed. I may trust Thack to know his place, but I trust none of those whom work under him. You will fight all sides, if needs be."
"Understood." Blondlot said, almost motionless.
"Good. Remember, do not fail me." Rikks eyes, one of the only noteworthy physical characteristics he had, were fierce. They spoke volumes.
Blondlot chuckled and turned his back to Mr. Rikk, leaving. "In this instance it would be hard to fail. After all, suicide is easy."
FPilot entered the Satellite of Faans wreck not through the main ingress/egress hatch but through one of the subhatches underneath...one of those designed for the escape pods, long since deployed and lost. When he heard screams and sounds of fighting down one of the corridors, he drew Pinkerton's tranq pistol from the seat of his pants (Pinkerton never saw "Stray Dog", FPilot thought) and ran toward the noises.
"Come along quietly and we won't have to mess you up too much." The late afternoon sun hovered just above the bulk of Todd's shoulder as the man reached for Wish, who darted back a step, towards the darkness of the unoccupied community theater.
"I've got a better idea.. You leave me alone, or I'll stomp you into a mudhole and march it dry." C'mon, c'mon you big lummox. Follow the bouncing bimbo. Wish thought, ducking another grab attempt and dancing further into the shadows. I sure do hope that no one's cleaned out the munitions locker since last time I was here... "You don't even know who you're dealing with." She backed into the large main room, keeping her eyes on her massive opponent.
"Not my problem, babe." Todd was still moving slowly, testing her, almost taunting her with clumsy feigns and jabs, "I don't have to know your little frail name to take you apart."
How absurd this must look An annoyed thought scrolled across the back of the woman's mind as she blocked a sweeping punch with a chair snatched up from a nearby desk, Two gigantic lumps of flesh swinging at each other like a pair of blindfolded drunks trying to hit the same pinata. A quick leap backwards had Wish at the door of the storage room just in time to dodge the self-same chair from earlier, which was thrown at her with remarkable accuracy. He's getting tired of holding back.. He'll start using his real strength and speed any second now.
She slipped through the door, turning the bolt behind her and ran over to a bank of foot lockers, three of which were marked 'SCI-FI AUX.' As the thunderous sounds of Todd's fists pounding at the door filled the small space, Wish lifted the lid of trunk number three. The sight of its contents kindled a gleam of anticpatory glee in her eyes. Time to end this charade.
FPilot knew he was right on top of the fight in the SOF...he had the laser sight on the tranq pistol going...turned the corner--
"Federal Warrant! You are under arrest for 24th-Day violations under U.S. Code--" FPilot shouted to the combatants, who were...
"He's crying." said Pi Rho, listening to the noises coming from the tunnel in the back of the SOF bridge.
"No way." said Nonmugle. "A guy crying? What'd he do, skin his knee and forget his teddybear?"
"Something's up" said Pi Rho, not noticing the red laser dot that had just appeared on his forehead. "A guy like that wouldn't just cry for no reason..."
"Federal Warrant! You are under arrest for 24th-Day violations under U.S. Code--" shouted FPilot, who was pointing his (well, technically Pinkerton's) pistol at Pi Rho. Pi Rho reflexively reached for his trusty lighter, while Nonmuggle reached for his own weapon.
Meenwhile, in the park:
Pinkerton turned to face the man who had spoken. The man was dressed in a dripping-wet three-piece suit, the formal outfit clinging tightly to some form of jumpsuit underneeth.
Pinkerton panicked. "Um, ah, no where... who are you?"
The man smiled a rather sinister looking smile. "Blondlot."
Pinkerton blinked. "Mr. Blondlot?" he asked. "Roommate of the Junior Jumbler?"
The man shook his head. "No... DOCTOR Blondlot. Your executioner."
Pinkerton fumbled at his side, feeling for his missing tranquilizer pistol. Doctor Blondlot grabbing Pinkerton's neck, painfully forcing Pinkerton into a kneeling position. "Say goodnight, George!" Dr. Blondlot said, just before the gloved knuckles of his right hand begin rubbing swiftly against the top of Pinkerton's head. Within a few seconds, the friction had produced enough heat to cause Pinkerton's brains to boil. "The death noogie." Dr. Blondlot chuckled as he allowed Pinkerton's corpse to fall to the ground. "And since my own suit is wet from the reflecting pool..."
FPilot took out his badge (technically, it was a forgery--a copy of the one he had carried as an Agent) and showed it. FPilot could recognize them as Pi Rho and Nonmugle, but wasn't sure they knew who he was...so had no idea how they'd react.
Pi Rho shouted back, "We're informants! Hold your fire!"
FPilot said, "Keep your hands where I can see them! Step away from that cubbyhole. Both of you--up against the bulkhead."
Suddenly, FPilot could feel the eminations of the mind control broadcast. But unlike Nodrog, FPilot's mind was hardened against it (from being a trained Agent) and didn't succumb to it. He could see slight reactions from Pi Rho and NonMugle...and suddenly FPilot lost all confidence that he knew who he was dealing with. FPilot remembered he still had something up his sleeves too. Things were going to get very interesting very fast...
I. Our world. Version: me. Place: My car
"But I hate THAI food!" The Junior Jumbler said. He was sitting, arms crossed and fuming in the passenger seat, giving me the evil eye.
"Of course you do." I said. "You hate everything." The car drifted into the next lane for a moment before I corrected my trajectory. "Every little thing."
He continued staring. "I don't hate everything. As a matter of fact I like many things."
"Well passing A&P II, for example. I would think you would too, considering we're both trying for premed."
"What the heck does that have to do with going out to eat? We need to eat, don't we?" I said in a knowing way.
"Hmmph. I had food at home."
"I don't think that pez counts as food."
"I don't think Thai counts as going to the library."
"Hey, I had to lie to get you out of the dorm. Anyway, we can keep studying after we eat." I strayed into the next lane again. Driving isn't one of my things. Scratch that- driving well isn't one of my things.
"I should have guessed we were... mumble mumble” At least he wasn't so loud when he cursed to himself.
"Hey, cheer up! You've been studying for finals every hour available to you!" I saw a Mongolian place coming up on the horizon. "Look, I'll meet you half-way. How about Mongolian?"
"I'm not sure how that is meeting me half-way... how about I jump out of the car and go running back towards campus?"
"Oh Junior, you so crazy."
II. Mr. Rikk’s world. Version: Blondlot. Place: The gate to Elsewhere. Time: Ten minutes before the noogie incident.
Thack sat abreast of the portal, quietly making calculations regarding Blondlot’s imminent trip Elsewhere. As he thought points were being drawn in accord on the screen in front of him. Slowly he charted the path through chaos as Blondlot sat and watched with little interest. Behind him Sttim made adjustments and confirmed variables. On occasion he would turn from his work and stare at Blondlot.
“It is done, agent.” Blondlot winced at the utterance of the word ‘agent’. “I assume you will be leaving immediately.”
“Yes. How do I…”
“Use the portal? Just step through. Don’t worry about the particulars of this procedure. Just know this; your eyes are to remain closed until the wristband beeps.” Thack removed one set of fingers from the console and pointed towards the yellow band on Blondlot’s hand. “It will tell you when you have arrived.” Thack smiled for a moment. “I’m sorry we aren’t putting you to sleep for this, as is standard, but, well we don’t know what is happening where you are going and we can have you dropping in whilst napping.”
“I don’t care what you do usually. Just get me there.”
“Heh. Well then- Sttim!”
“Is everything in order for agent Boughton’s trip Elsewhere?”
“Yes, sir. All values are within reasonable tolerance ranges. It should be a sterling trip.” Sttim absently picked at a bit of dirt on his tweed jacket that had evaded the cleaners. “Everything should be perfect.”
Thack turned back to Blondlot. “Good. Please walk up the steps to the portal.”
Blondlot did as per request, the briefcase slung over his shoulder, a cigarette lazily hanging from his lips and a gun drawn from his shoulder holster. The glock was aimed at nothing in particular. Rather, it just hung in air as a threat of violence.
“Mr Boughton?” Sttim said, covering his nose with a silk kerchief as he moved towards Blondlot with a strange gray device in his right hand.
“Yes?” He lifted the gun just a bit, seeing the mystery object in Sttim’s hand. “What is it?”
“Two things. Firstly, I need to do a tertiary scan… to compare with a later scan, if… when you come back. See how all of this warping about affects the nervous system. Secondly” He squinted in disgust “no smoking in the portal room.”
“Why? Does it throw off…”
“No, it is just a wretched habit.” Blondlot put the cigarette out on the heel of his shoe. “Much better, Mr. Bought…”
“Call me Blondlot.” He stepped through the portal.
“Agent… Blondlot, wait! Your scan!” He was too late; the man known as Blondlot stepped through into Elsewhere, into our world.
Thack and Sttim looked at each other, both smiling when the voice of Mr. Rikk came through the intercom.
“Did he go through?” Mr. Rikk asked..
“Yes, Mr. Rikk.” Said Thack. “He went through just seconds ago.”
“Did we get what we wanted?”
“Yes.” Sttim smiled smugly. “He didn’t suspect what we were really doing. The fake scanner worked perfectly. He thought he was escaping our trick, only to…”
“I know my own plans, Sttim.”
“I beg your pardon, sir. Sufficed to say, your plan worked perfectly.”
“Good. Have a report and schematics ready for a test production run soon.”
“I’ll have it within the week, Mr. Rikk.” Thack said, already plotting a new path to Elsewhere. A secret path.
“Good. Don’t fail me. You two are the only ones I can trust.”
Sttim carefully picked up the cigerette butt off the floor. "I'll take this down to the DNA lab."
"Send in the clones, Sttim." agreed Cyber-Thack, as he worked. The path through Chaos to Elsewhere was always changing. A chance chaos configuration had given Cyber-Thack the first glimpse that there was an Elsewhere, when his crber-augmented nervous system had somehow given him a vision of his Elsewhere self. A self that, while his mind had been fried, still had a fully intact body. A body not doomed to die in three months, when Cyber-Thack's own body couldn't handle the strain of the cyber augmentation.
Since then, Cyber-Thack had been working practicly around the clock, using all the resources of SNAF to create pathways from here to Elsewhere, promising his beloved leader, Mr. Rikk, a new world to conquer.
Only that hope of an undamaged body could possibly have made Cyber-Thack work that hard, and betray the sinister Mr. Rikk. But since Cyber-Thack was going to betray Mr. Rikk anyway, he might as well do it in a big way. "In for a nickle, in for a nuke." Cyber-Thack muttered to himself as he made a last adjustment to the Rirrom interface.
A thread of chaos spun out of its normal position, suspended between Here and There, and touched...
Muttley scratched around the last corner, raising sparks from the footrests and approached the crashed Satellite of Fans at a ridiculous speed. Part of him wondered "how did that thing ever get down here still in one piece? It must have an Infinite Improbability Generator or a Dean Drive or some other corollary to Clarkes Law. Maybe its worth investigating in the basement. . ." Bumping over the kerb, he scrubbed off the rest of the speed in a wildly showy tailslide, rasing a huge roostertail of dust and stopped near a lump of concrete. He unstrapped the camera from the pillion and leaned the bike against the block, covering it with a sheet of corrugated steel lying nearby. "Now to see how many Auxiliaries got the call" he thought, and switched the camera on.
"Hello, Control . . . Anybody there? . . Come in Control, this is Ed Crater, I need some help out here, OK???" Silence. Then a scratchy voice in the bone-conduction headset replied "Hello Edwardson, Control here, what do you need?". The red light on the camera came on, confirming that Auxiliary Control was indeed manned by somebody.
"Holy socks, it's my lucky day. Can you get into the vid-systems on this Satellite of Fans thing? Have to be a wireless link, they aren't connected to the utilities yet, it only , - er - , arrived recently."
"Hold on Ed, let me see - - - - - Yep, got it. Hey, the whole things wired for vid, sound, and something else - - - says "Smell" here - - - Does that make any sense to you?"
"No, but its no surprise. Anything involving this lot is no surprise" Muttley paused, frowning, for a moment, then "Can you find me a way in that doesn't use any of the regular doors? I'd rather surprise the guys inside that be surprised by them, if you see what I mean"
"Ed, this is Control. One of the corridor cams shows a what looks like a crack in the ceiling - anyway, outside light seems to be coming in. North East side, about 55 degrees and , say, six feet under ground level."
Muttley walked around the tilted wreck to find a pile of reeking cardboard and paper refuse where the hole should be. Kicking it produced a squeal, and the rapid egress of several mangy alley-cats, which also accounted for the smell. Heaving a large box to one side revealed a sloping hole that went down and inwards. Descending the slope, he pulled the box over the hole behind him.
A ripe orange watched him disappear inside from on top of its rock. It blinked twice, then turned and hopped away.
A moment of instability left him dizzy, and looking back he could see that the slope he had just traversed now looked like a wall. "Clarkes Law" he muttered to himself, and tried to get a grip on his surroundings.
There was a lot to get a grip on. Down below ground level, the Satellite had clearly taken some damage as it speared itself into the ground, and it looked like the set of Blakes 7 after a mild breeze - walls collapsed, girders and wires hanging, ductwork exposed. About half the lights were out, and the pools of light left plenty of spaces to the imagination. In the distance things rustled, squeaked, clattered and dripped. "Yeah, and I bet there are are ear-mites too" said Muttley, out-of-character for a moment.
In the corner of his vision, a brief glint caught his attention. Turning his head he could see it came from beyond an impassible pile of girders. Focussing the camera on the spot, he zoomed in to see - a polyhedron; a gamers dice; glowing slightly? And no matter how hard the camera tried, it wouldn't come into focus.
Muttley, startled, dropped the camera on his foot; "Jesus Christ on a bicycle! What's that doing here!" he yelled, hopping up and down and cursing under his breath. A dark shape swung down and grabbed the dice. Then it hit a wall (Splat!), shook its head and staggered off into the darkness.
Closer, and more ominously, a figure lurched out of the darkness towards him. Swinging the camera round, he triggered lowlight mode and gasped. The figure was clothed in a skintight suit which seemed to be crosshatched all over. It lurched because its legs were of uneven length, and looked like they were attached directly at the waist. It cocked its wrists, and two streams of vapour shot out at him. They turned into something resembling badly-assembled scaffolding, and fell to the floor (yes, you got it, Clang!). The figure fell over sideways, muttered "oh, shit", and disappeared from view.
From above there came what can only be described as a resounding tinkle, followed by a thud that registered 11 on the Ouch! scale. An angular figure dressed in blue with a red cape fell through his line of vision into one of the many holes in the structure. Muttley had time to catch the backwards "S" emblazoned on its chest.
"G-G-G-Good Ghod!" stuttered Muttley "We're being overrun by badly drawn superheroes?????? Control, are you getting this?"
Remembering his training in such situations, FPilot put away his badge and let the grease gun drop out of his left sleeve. He splattered the deck and the cubbyhole with the grease and then made a quick tactical withdrawl to the nearest computer access panel behind him.
FPilot said, "Computer?"
A fuzzy, somewhat feminine chip voice said back, "Where do you w-w-w-want to go today?"
"Rokky Splatter Pitcher Shoe."
Suddenly the whole satellite broke out in loud rock music. So loud that everybody in earshot was jolted back to normal whether they wanted to be or not. Plus the wreckage vibrated so much it churned the ground surrounding the Satellite of Faans to the consistancy of pancake batter. The SOF sank into the earth like a homesick sand flea.
"Badly drawn... we read you. We're having some technical difficulties on our side, Ed. We're taking the systems down for emergency repairs. We're going to lose you for a bit. Control out." Agent Jones furrowed his brow and put the headset down... "Hmm."
FPilot shut off the music when he could no longer feel the quasi-Thack stream in the back of his mind. He let out a sigh of relief, and then made his way back towards Pi Rho, NonMugle...and Nodrog, who had squirted out of the Cambot chute. All three were lying in a pool of white lithium grease. "Nodrog? Are you okay?" FPilot asked.
Tom the Fanboy
Tom pedaled along the road across town towards the SoF crash site muttering to himself.
"Geeze, I really need to get a car, a license...... this is taking forever! At least I can see the thing now." Poking above the maple trees a few blocks up was the round tail of the SoF. "Just as beautiful as ever. Best darn vacation I ever had." Tom daydreamed about his days "imprisoned" on the sattelite with his pals. He was so lost in thought that he didn't notice the humming in his ears until it was a sharp whine. Pulling his bike over, annoyed, Tom felt the sides of his hat. "hmmmm.....the anchor pins are vibrating. Must be a mind control wave or something. Thanks again Orion!"
Tom squinted against the sharp noise and walked his bike slowly towards the SoF. Seeing that several vehicles were already parked about the crash site, Tom decided to go right in. Using the modified car door opener that he had gotten onboard, Tom activated an elevator arm from the rear loading bay. Once the elevator was low enough, Tom walked his bike on and parked it against a crate of Hamdingers. As he walked into the hallways he adjusted to the gravity. "Hmmm....in here the hat's buzzing is a little quieter! let's hear it for radiation shielding!" Tom's relief was short lived as music began blaring from the internal audio system. Tom was so startled that he jumped and tripped into a passenger suite. The room seemed to have been damaged in the crash because not only was only one light working but the gravity was off. As Tom slid down to the back corner he wondered how much furniture he would have to stack to get out of this bind.
Flogman Thomas strolled down the hallway towards Mr. Rikk's Dungeons. He ran the hard leather of his riding crop between his fingers and tested the barbed handle on his palm. In perfect delectible working order. As always. With a nod of his leather skull cap the guard opened the blast doors to Thomas' workplace.
The echoes of the titanisteel blast doors slamming closed were all that could be heard in the dark rusty hall. A grin spread across Thomas' sharp white face as he looked into the small dank cells that lined each level of the dungeon. This was his kingdom. The loud clanging of his steel cleeted boots caused frightened scuffling and some muffled whimpers to come from the various cells in the dungeons. No cries though. To speek without the Flogman's permission was a a sign of thought. And any thought that was not requested was rebellion. And rebellion was punnished. Yes, all the prisoners knew that rebellion was punished harshly.
"Today will be different." the cold voice of the Flogman rang out. "Today I have no schedule. Today your names and cells do not matter." Thomas grinned as he leaned to look in on one of the prisoners, the writer/artist of a web comic that had been caught making fun of Mr.Rikk's shoe size. "Today you shall be chosen by my hand. Today you shall be treated by my hand." Thomas stopped at the cross way of the dungeon, where the two main prison halls interdicted and allowed a view of all the cells for that level. "Today I shall select you one by one. But first......." Thomas waited for the muffled whimpers to stop as the prisoners grew curious as to what might delay their suffering. The Flogman waited several seconds to see how long they would hold their breath. As soon as he heard a sobbing gasp he noted the cell number for later (that would be the first punishment of his choosing) and continued, "...I shall be making room for the beloved Katy. It seems she will be returning to you company after he time above." Thomas walked toward the cell where the gasp had come from. With a venomous whisper he put his mout to the cell's small window "You Miss Socamp shall be attended to upon my return." A grin crossed Thomas' face as he walked away. The acrid odor and the light trickling noise he had observed after leaving the cell was satisfaction that he was feared.
Oh yes, he was feared. And he loved it.
Agent Jones furrowed his brow and put the headset down... "Hmm."
Agent Jones turned to his audience and scowled. The mass of agents faces flinched, closest first, as though Jones were a stone cast into an oil-slicked sea.
"I tried every one of you with that talisman, and the best you could come up with was BaseballBatMan! Doesn't any of you have any imagination!" then quieter, to himself, "No, of course you don't. Thats what makes you such good agents. But I NEED IMAGINATION now. I want Fans. Or Faans. Maybe; - - yes, she would do nicely - an artist - we could work well with *her* imagination."
He turned to his audience again "Use the tunnel we have made into their headquarters, and get me the one called Wish!"
Nodrog whimpered, rolling on the floor. His ears tightly clutched over his aching ears, unable to hear anything. The hiding spot he had chosen had turned out to be right next to the SOF's theatre speakers. Nodrog was in so much pain he didn't even realize the SNAF's soul draining ray was, for the moment, gone.
Meanwhile, one universe over:
Sttim hissed in displeasure. "Excessive sonic vibrations have disrupted the Rirrom Interface!"
Cyber-Thack quickly pushed his metal-tipped fingers into the sides of the complex Rirrom Interface. "Attempting to readjust... GROK! Those soundwaves have reorganized the chaos fields. We can still get messages through, and I THINK I might be able to get some people and equipment through... but the fields are rejecting the Soul Destroyer carrier wave."
Sttim frowned. "So, the 'Fans'... are back to being themselves?"
Cyber-Thack: "Not quite yet, but they are returning to their 'normal' state."
Sttim sighed. "This is bad. We'll have to tell Mr. Rikk, of course."
Cyber-Thack nodded. "One of us will have to tell him. There's a fair and logical way which one of us it will be."
Sttim took out one of the 23-sided coins of that universe. "Call it." he said, as he threw the coin into the air.
FPilot quickly seized Pi Rho's lighter and bandolier of airliner-bottle Molotov cocktail bombs and NonMugle's bag of firecrackers. (This was easy to do because their hands were covered with grease and FP's hands--weren't.) FPilot then opened a linen closet and pulled out a stack of towels, all marked "PROPERTY OF GOLGAFRINCHAN ARK B", and handed them to the three guys. Pi Rho, "Are we still under arrest?"
FPilot said, "Worse than that, bubba. I'm deputizing you both for the duration. You're too dangerous to yourselves to go to the Secretary now."
turned to Nodrog, who was somewhat vigorously toweling himself off. "Did you get the news? I got a call from Kath while I was entertaining Pinkerton at the airport two hours ago. They just arrived at Villa Vorgo."
Nodrog frowned, staring at FPilot. While Nodrog was expert at reading science-fiction, mysteries, and bulletin boards, he had never mastered reading lips. "WHAT?" he asked loudly, barely able to hear himself shout. "Rats, he can't hear me." muttered FPiot.
"I'M SORRY!" shouted Nodrog. "I CAN'T HEAR YOU! WE NEED TO GET THE REST OF THE AUXILARY MEMBERS!"
The lights illuminating the Sattelite of Fans' bridge suddenly turned blood red. A nerve wracking siren begin to sound, which fortunately Nodrog couldn't hear. From the ceiling, panels slid back, allowing brown trousers in various sizes to fall down to the floor.
"THIS IS BAD, RIGHT?" asked Nodrog, pointing at the scarlet illumination.
FPilot took out a notepad from the pair of brown trousers he had already been wearing (thanks to the bargain bin at Bogus Boy) and a pen and wrote: I got a call from Kath 2 hours ago. They arrived at Villa Vorgo safe. I'm sorry about the racket, but I needed to blow out the Thack stream. Pinkerton and I did lunch. I sent him to Market Park--if he understood me correctly.
FPilot ripped the note from the pad and handed it to Nodrog, who had just finished towelling himself off.
(Track Five? which album have you got? You mean track four of course - - - ) Suddenly music could be clearly felt all through the structure. There was a sinking feeling. Dust, lightbulbs and the occasional beam fell from overhead. Muttley recognised the track, and was compelled to join in and dance
"Just a jump to the left, And then a step to the right"
"Lets do the TimeWrap agaaaaaaaaiiiiin!"
Good thing nobody is watching, eh?
A clod of earth fell on him and disrupted the wild rumpus (and whose wild rumpus was *that*?). He noticed that the red light was out on his camera. The he noticed that the music had stopped. Picking himself up, he grabbed the camera and tried to work out which way to go next.
Down a corridor to his left, a big, beefy ginger cat strolled across his field of view, paused, looked at him, and strolled on.
He went right, up a ramp and through a big set of double doors. A long corridor confronted him. On an impulse, he turned right. throught the next set of doors he came to. This was a stairwell, good. He went up, turning right again at the top. Through the next door, he stopped, nonplussed; to his right was a narrow cubicle farm, but on the left, through broken walls, he could see "A HoloDec. Must be where they played the games they were telling me about. Maybe there'ssomething in here I can use . . . "
He stepped carefully through the hole in the wall into the HoloDec and was swallowed up in the glow -
Nodrog grabbed the deck and pencil from FPilot, forgetting he was the only one deaf. Fortunately, he spoke aloud as he wrote, so FPilot didn't have to try to read Nodrog's notoriously bad handwriting. "No! BAD Idea. The park has a reflecting pool in it. We have to advoid ALL underline underline exclamation mark exclamation mark exclamation mark reflecting surfaces! Pools, mirrors, store windows if possible. Also, don't DARE go into the holodec! Protective chaose fields are being broken down. Reflective surfaces and holodeck can act as multiversal portals!"
Nodrog handed the pad back to FPilot and pointed silently at the badly hand written note.
FPilot quickly read Nodrog's note and went back to the computer port he had used before. "Computer?"
"W-w-w-what is i-i-it now?" the chip voice asked.
"Schematics. First, overall plan of the SOF and all life readings bigger than the ship's cat. Next, the location for the circuit breakers for holodecks and theater deck."
FPilot thought to himself about the note. Some sort of reality corruption at work? Multiversal portals? We'd have to generate a huge panglobal chaos field in order to counteract the breakdown. The only way I could think of to do it would require a 29-sided gargantahedron and a satellite-link cameramitter and a Circle-K Thirstbuster cup filled with Jolt Cola...
Meanwhile, the SOF computer screen slowly drew its schematics...
Tom the Fanboy
Tom rummaged through the junk in the damaged room and managed to find a few things to help him in his escape. First, Tom piled up the pieces of furniture (a chair, a dresser, and an rD-22 Papsi barrel) and tried to just climb out but the barrel cracked and toppled him over. Tom found the bedsheets for the room and began tying them together to make a rope, he was just beginning to talk to himself when the loud music finally ended.
"Naked woman walks into a bar with a poodle under one arm, and a salami under the other. Bartender looks up and says.........Oh cool, the music stopped. I love that dance but now is not the time. OK, Luckily my Boy Scouts training enabled me to tie these sheets together. Now. I jus need a grapple. Hatrack...hatrack......." Tom looked around the rrom and saw several fedoras perched on a shadowy shape in the corner. Tom grabbed it and shook the hats off revealing a broom handle with the head, arms, and three manequin feet attached to it. "I don't think I wanna know whose room this was."
Tom tied the sheets around the "shoulders" of the hatrack and prepared himself. With one mighty throw the hatrack wobbled out into the doorway and (once caught in the ship's gravity) fell to the floor. Tom twisted the sheets and jerked them to the sides to get the rack straight. Tom began pulling it and tested the weight. The rack was firmly set against the doorjam and seemed strong enough. Tom began climbing.
After adjusting to the hallway's gravity he stood the hatrack up.
"Well, the computer must be working for the music to play. I just wonder where everyone is." He began to open a nearby computer hatch when he slapped himself in the head. "D'oh! Of course! The theater!"
Tom began walking quickly to the fireman's pole at the end of the hallway. However, before he got there he was distracted by a billow of steam from a nearby door. Looking into what turned out to be the hall's bathroom Tom saw that instead of the gravity being off, the gravity in the bathroom was reversed. There was a leak in the sink's faucet and a small trickle of water was flowing up to the ceiling where it pooled and was now being boiled by a light fixture. Tom reached in and turned off the light. "
That could be dangerous, don't want that socket to be powered if someone falls in THERE!" He grinned at the way the hallway light reflected off of the ceiling and played across the bathroom floor and walked onward to the fireman's pole.
Taliesin Campbell was tall, around six and a half feet, with long blond hair done into a braid going half-way down his back. His blue-gray eyes scanned the street inquistevely from behind glasses, finally alighting on one of the dorms.
Nodding to himself, Taliesin walked towards Will Erixon's dorm. It had been just yesterday that he had received a phone call from his old friend. Will sounded in trouble and Taliesin sensed trouble, or more exactly he divined it, divined it from a pool of water and a deck of tarot cards.
Quickly hurrying from his home in Canada, Taliesin hoped that it wasn't anything major. Will hadn't been totally clear about his problems, as the Internet, phone lines, and even the mail service could not be completely trusted.
The young magician gripped the dagger hidden in his long black cloak. Mystic runes on it had caused it to be safe from customs, a dagger used by Taliesin for sacrifices, offerings of his blood and the fruits of trees to various spirits in return for knowledge. In a pinch, it served as a deadly weapon.
"Hello, Will?" asked Taliesin, knocking on his door. "You home, buddy?"
Hesistantly, he tried the door-knob.
Taliesin slowly opened the door and looked inside the darkened room.
And then he felt a blow to the head and everything went black.
Tal begin to wake up, the pain in his head reminding him of how he became unconcious. He heard voices and, not sure what was going on, opened his eyes just enough to see what was going on.
"You didn't have to hit him." an older man was saying. He looked in his fifties, a pair of square framed glasses hiding his eyes. He was addressing a young, scrawny looking geek. Oddly, the geek looked a lot like one of Will's friends, the one known as Guth.
"Yeah." said another man. This one looked some age between the Guth look alike and the old man. "Smith is right, Gunth. You didn't have to hit him."
"We're at war!" said Gunth. "It's us against them. They chased us out of one universe, and now they've chased us into this one."
"Don't snap at him!" said a woman, about the same age as the middle man. "We all know it's our fault the SNAF got here. When we forced our way through the chaos barrier to escape, we must have left some way for the SNAF to find us." She turned to look at Tal, and Tal saw an eye patch covered her left eye. "He's awake."
The woman moved to crouch down next to Tal. "Hello. I'm Silly, this is Muller, Smith, and Gunth." She pointed to the man her same age, a scar on his face, then the older man, then the young thin man.
Gunth crouched on the other side of Tal. "I'm sorry we had to knock you out, but we had to make sure you weren't a SNAF agent. We four are the only survivors of Bif, a science fiction club named after the main charachter in our version of Back to the Future. We're from another universe, chased out by an evil para-government agency known as SNAF. They somehow managed to follow us. We need to find a way to seal the chaos barrier back up."
Silly nodded. "Help us, Taliesin! You're our only hope!"
"I don't think he's tracking us." said Muller. "Let's take it again, from the top, slower."
Smith puffed nervously on his pipe. "Hurry, we're not sure how long it'll take for the SNAF to find us."
Hope you don't mind getting knocked out by the good guys. Any ideas on the complex things we'ld need to seal the chaos barriers? Mayby we have to send someone over to their universe to shut down their Rirrom Interface? Of course, if anyone does that, they'll then be stuck in THAT universe.
Blondlot dropped Pinkerton's half-naked corpse down the sewer, turned and made his way to the parking lot. He rolled the keys he found in Pinkerton’s pocket about in his hand, wondering where he could find the Oldsmobile they started. "Ugh," he said, feeling the material of his new apparel. "I would have been better off staying with my own suit. This Agent Pinkerton fellow had a severe sweating problem."
After a bit of searching he found the car. It was large, recently polished and ugly. He unlocked the door and sat down. For the most part it was a clean interior- well, except for the hamburger wrappers and soda cups that carpeted the floor of the back seat. In the glove compartment he found a pair of sunglasses, tranquilizer darts for a gun that didn’t appear to be nearby, some assorted paperwork and a small blue cube. He began examining it.
The cube itself was made of some sort of colored glass; it could fit within the palm of an average sized human hand and though it had the normal amount of surfaces for a cube it felt as if it didn’t. When Blondlot looked at it, it seem to shift and reveal a new side to take place of the old one, though it felt as it the old surface still remained. His head hurt just looking at it.
“What in the hell is this thing? It isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen before in my life…” He put the cube down on the passengers side for a moment, rubbing his temples and closing his eyes. His brain could conceive of an illogical notion, but seeing it happen in reality was a physically taxing experience. Behind him, in the back seat the cushions began to tear. Finger-like projectiles burst through, attached to things that seemed like geometric representations of arms clad in colored tights. Blondlot turned just in time to be covered in a wave of amorphous mass.
The mass itself had the constancy of warm, breathing silly putty. It moved about him forming eyes, noses, mouths and so on. He tried sloughing it off, but to no avail. “What the hell…” he said before realizing that he might want to conserve what little oxygen he had. “He only started yelling again when a rough and deformed version of Guy-Spider, the amazing superhero of comic book legend’s head formed in front of him in the churning mass. Then Supper man, The Bat and something that looked like a cross between feline girl and wondrous woman, each of them both resembling a crude geometric shapes and the drawing of an very sick eight year old at once. Ears were out of place. Some teeth were ovals, some eyes dodecahedrons with no iris or pyramids that would pop and run into a hundred jagged fingers before reforming intro a sphere or cube. New crude hands, both feminine and masculine would thrust out from the creeping, formless body grasping at him or sometimes breaking off and turning into feet in mid-flight
Throughout it all a throaty whisper could be heard. “Stop-p-p-p-p e-uh-vil doerrrrr.”
Blondlot started screaming.
“Agent Jones,” the running man shouted. “We have a problem!”
The war of Todd had not been going as well as Wish had hoped. When he knocked the door to the storage room off it's hinges, she thought the fight was practically over. After all, he took a direct shot to the abdomen from the Medicine Ball Cannon at about thirty feet, and quite a few follow up rounds in the face from the man-portable Tennis Gun. But even after all this punishment, the guy still. Kept. Coming. It was getting down right worrisome. Now, standing next to her car in the parking lot with only one clip left in her remaining paintball rifle, and anticipating another charge from her foe any second, she found herself faced with a slim selection of distasteful options to chose from. Todd was still inside the theater, bashing his way out of the rehersal room she'd locked him in. He would be free in just moments, and SOMETHING had to be done.
Flight was out of the question. With the rest of the Axillary Members presumably on the way, she couldn't leave this hunk of bad intentions here to pounce on whoever might show up next. She'd already cleaned out one whole foot locker trying to deal with him and he might not be inclined to take his time with the next arrival. Similarly unthinkable would be to carry on this fight. With the kind of stamina and resillance he'd displayed thus far, she'd easily be on the losing side. Breathing was already getting difficult and her extremeties were starting to aquire the leaden weight of fatigue.
There remained one last possibility, but she considered that the most undesireable of all. A quick glance towards the theater confirmed that Todd was still railing against the locked door. She could hear his bellows of rage even at this distance. Tsk. Such language. What kind of steroids did they pump this guy with? He's a slagging Energizer Muskrat!!
A loud, metalic crash from the theater settled the matter in Wish's mind. With a jerk, she threw open the passenger side door of the Volvo, dropped the rifle in the floorboard next to the snacks and almost tenatively reached for her long package. As her fingers closed around the crinkling brown paper, she experienced a thrill of almost ravenous greed. No. She thought firmly. It's not time yet. Settle down.
An enraged shout from behind brought her out of her revery. "COME BACK HERE SO I CAN SMASH YOU!" Todd was ready for Round Four.
Wish took a deep breath and readjusted her grip on the long staff Just keep calm, Wish. Try not to kill him. "I'm right here, Todd. No need to disturb the neighbors looking for me." In her own mind she turned on the stereo, slid the Princess Mononoke soundtrack into the disc tray, and put track 2 on looping repeat. The staff almost seemed to quiver in her hands. "Okay, I'm ready now."
Taliesin carefully touced the back of his head and winced slightly. "There are better ways of attracting my attention, you know," said Taliesin.
He toyed with scanning their minds, but a mind probe might be detected. Besides, it would be unethical unless he had more reason to trust them.
The magician slowly glanced up and glanced from person to person, his soft blue-grey eyes hardening into a penetrating glare. His eyes finally settled on Silly.
"Not trying to offend, you understand," said Taliesin, "but why should I believe or trust you. My friend calls me, apparently in danger, and I find his place deserted. I'm then smashed on the hand and encounter alternative versions of some people I know. Would make many people suspicious."
"I AM A TINY GOD OF PAIN!" Todd bellowed, charging through the complex of rooms. He was not happy at all. His stomach was sore from the pummeling and his arm felt as if it was about to tear from the shoulder. He wanted his pound of flesh and wanted it now. "I'M CO-OMING, DARLING!" He casually tossed a table that was obstructing his path, making himself ready for the final push that would bust through the door. He backed up, snarled and began charging. "Stop, Todd." A voice from the darkness behind him said. Todd knew the voice well, and did as it commanded.
"But she's going to get..."
"Away? Heh. Let her think that." Todd could see the flash of metal as the shadowed figure produced a gun and aimed it at Todd's chest. "Let her think a lot of things."
Outside Wish heard the report quite clearly; she spun to meet the entrance and saw a familiar face standing in front of the still locked doors. This particular familiar face was carrying a gun.
“What just happened?” She asked, now gripping the paper wrapped item once more.
"Wish! It's me! We have to go now!"
"But what... how... huh? NO, hold on! Tell me what just happened!"
"No time! Get in the car! I'll explain everything later!" Wish got in the driver's side and started the car. She pulled out, quickly accelerated and sped out of the lot.
"Now talk!" She said. "
I'll explain when we get there. Turn left here."
Baseball Batman looked around. His face was partially masked by a catcher's mask, his right hand wearing a black glove, and his left hand wearing a large catcher's mitt. The rest of his body was covered in a tight fitting pin-striped uniform, with 'Baseball Batman' and '42' displayed on the back of his uniform. A heavy metal-reinforced baseball bat was held in a custom holder on Basball Batman's back, and a series of baseball grenades were attached to his belt. The room he was in was a white cube, nine feet per side. The walls shifted, as if things behind the walls were trying to push through the walls.
"Greetings, Baseball Batman." said a deep, mysterious voice.
Baseball Batman twisted, looking for the source of the voice. "Is that you, Flamingo? Of you, RiddleAsker?"
"No, no..." said the voice. "You meen the great defective detective, Vuce Brayne, hasn't figured it out yet? I know you are... or at least, are not."
Baseball Batman swallowed, nervous. "Y-yes."
"Yes." said the voice. "Jones was right. You were the best of them... just good enough to know you weren't real. Just a projection."
Baseball Batman whimpered at the shock of realizing he truly wasn't real.
"But you are useful." said the voice. "You are intelligent... you are capable of... surprising them. I can use you."
"Who are you?" demanded Baseball Batman.
"An author. But a limited one." said the voice. "Did they give you any of Heinlein's writings in your memory?"
Baseball Batman shook his head no.
"Pity." said the voice. "I have to make this brief, because I can only maintain this sub-spot briefly. The barriers between worlds are breaking. Some people have caused the breakage, some people have realized there is breakage. The barriers must be restored. You are an eddy of those chaos barriers. You know you are doomed... you will die. Either the barriers will be locked in place, and you will cease... or the barriers will totally dissolve, and all order, including you, will cease. You will die, as all will die. But will you die a force of chaos, or order?"
"I fight on the team of justice" said Baseball Batman. "Order, of course."
"Very good." said the voice. "They're going to need this."
A large sphereoid was suddenly flung from one of the walls. Without thinking, Baseball Batman's left hand reached out, catching the small object.
"Good luck" said the voice.
Baseball Batman blinked. He was standing in a puddle of water, in what appeared to be an upside down bathroom. Clutched in his catcher's glove was a small, 32-sided die. (Yes, thirty-two) Baseball Batman looked up. Outside of the bathroom, apperently walking upside down, was something Baseball Batman instantly recognized as a member of the force of chaos.
"BATTER UP!" yelled Baseball Batman, his right hand grabbing his bat.
He ran through the bathroom door, and suddenly fell himself falling to the floor of the hallway.
A face appeared in the bathroom mirror, looking almost identical to Nodrog's. "What a maroon" Gordon muttered to himself, and then the face in the mirror vanished.
The little white car's tires screeeeeeached in rubbery protest as the Volvo cut the left-hand curb, leaving faint tread-marks across the intersection. Wish gripped the steering wheel with firm determination and confidence as the compact corrected and accellerated. She sent a sideways glance towards the passenger who had displaced her brown-wrapped package. "Exactly where ARE we going? The SoF is the other way."
"It's just a little place, out of the way. Over towards Highway 230" Her passenger replied, while quietly scrawling 'Your car might be bugged' on the back of a receipt fished out of the snack bag. There was a moment of pause while the note was displayed to the driver, who nodded grimly.
"Turn right here." But a commanding finger pointed left. Wish turned left again without protest. "Good. We'll be there soon."
Wish glanced at her reflection in the rearview, "What if we're followed?"
"We won't be. I've already taken care of Todd's back up."
"Great.. I was worried about the other members who might come by later.." There was a short span of silence. The artist narrowed her eyes a fraction, "You killed him, didn't you?"
"Believe me, if they get their hands on one of us, they won't hesitate to do the same. Turn left."
Wish turned right and the Volvo drifted out onto a long, barren strip of highway.
The passenger smiled, "Good."
FPilot dashed another sketch on his notepad and handed it to Nodrog once it was done. It was a diagram involving the chaos field generator idea: wires attached to the logic circuits of a cameramitter running to a gargantahedron and from there to a large paper cup filled with a high-caffein content carbonated beverage. Then he handed Nodrog Pinkerton's gun with a second note: The FiB strays have been deputized. If they don't DO what YOU tell them--blast them!
The screen on the wall showed seven people aboard SOF. FPilot mused at the screen: "Four people here, one on the upper level, one coming this way...who's this guy over here?--Ut oh...somebody's going in the holodeck!"
As soon as he saw the location of the circuit breaker board--next level down, he was gone!
Tom the Fanboy
Tom slid down the fireman's pole to the theater's "lobby". He always enjoyed riding on this thing, especially the parts where the poles twisted around and went horizontally past the various decks. Finally, after a dramatic loop he landed on the bridge with a somersalt. Standing up with a flourish of his hat he grinned.
"Ta da!............um...." Tom was somewhat confused at the mess before him. Not only did the lobby reek of petroleum product, but there were two unfamiliar faces staring at him from about three inches away. Stepping back a bit and putting his hat back on, Tom was startled by Nodrog's voice.
"HEY TOM! GLAD YOU GOT MY CALL! COME HERE AND READ THESE NOTES FROM PILOT! THIS IS WHAT I CALLED ABOUT."
Tom flinched and waited for Nodrog to stop shouting then made hand signals to get him to quiet down. "OK Nodrog, OK. shhhhhhh, let me see those notes....." Tom began reading the notes as Nodrog fiddled with the computer terminal. He thought to himself Well at least this explains a couple of things...........
Getting to the fusebox was a tougher job than FPilot had calculated...some areas of the corridor either had malfunctioning gravity control or none at all. The fact that FPilot was wearing brand-new shoes with smudges of lithium grease on the soles didn't help matters much.
Through a combination of bizarre acrobatics and the aid of the tire iron (FP's other holdout, the object that had been up the sleeve opposite the grease gun), FP got to the fusebox and pried it open. But FP only got so far as identifying the breaker for the holodeck when a random current of electricity arc'ed through the tire iron and zapped FP unconscious. He slumped to the floor, smelling of ozone.
Muttley trod cautiously foreward into the damaged holodeck, thinking "bloody awful plot device this, talk about author control, anything can happen, it can hurt you, but the ship's only one door away - bah" Visibility was severely limited, everything dissolving into a faintly glowing mist within a few yards.
There was a twang! to his left, and something flew towards him. Reflexively, he panned it with the camera, and caught a shot of a serene-looking pig arcing gracefully through the air, apparantly unconcerned. He followed it until it was lost in the mist. Muttley listened, but there was no sign that the pig had hard-landed anywhere. "So its true" he thought, "if you fling them hard enough . . ."
Now a rumbling started, became deeper, and broke into a coughing roar. The deck began to shake, and a large shadow loomed out of the mist, cutting across his line of progress. A smell of coal-smoke, steam and hot metal hit him. Thrashing rods, wheels slowly turning, and, twenty feet above, a belching chimney. "Good Grief - a Union Pacific "Big Boy" - someone's been here with some imagination. But I don't want to wait fifteen minutes for the train to pass. I wonder how far this holo-image persists for?" Turning left, he walked away from the engine, past the train of chrome-plated tank cars, hoping that it would fade away soon.
The noise and vibration were so pervasive, he didn't notice that the light was gradually fading, and that shadows were forming in the mist behind him, people-sized shadows. Unfriendly looking shadows.
Nodrog handed Tom the Fanboy the gun. "HERE... I meen, here... hey, hear! I mean, I can hear! My hearing is back!"
Nodrog handed Tom the note about the two guys there. "Here, um, see if you can do anything like cover up mirrors. That might help. I need to test some theories."
Nodrog turned and began typing on the computer. Nodrog had spend many hours on the SoF, trying to figure out the Satelite of Fan's computer system, especially the food-production and auto-navigation systems. While he had never managed to get the SoF to do a successful Loop-de-loop, or to produce a realy good bowl of Rocky Road ice-cream, Nodrog had learned a lot about the SoF's computer system.
The Sattelite of Fans was made from a wide variety of ships and items discarded from Science Fiction series. The computer system included everything from an electrified abacus to a bank of isoliniar cessium-accelerated optical chips. As such, programming and using the computer system was more of an art then a science.
"Attempting to reroute power to the reality buffers..." muttered Nodrog as he hit the last few keys.
As noted, using the SoF's computer system is more of an art then a science. And Nodrog, while he's the Sattelite of Fans' Eating, Breathing, and Other Science Officer, he is no artist. Unbeknownst to him, instead of rerouting all of the SoF's free power to the SoF's powerful reality buffers, was instead channeling the power into the SoF's holodek.
The sound you are hearing is the reality tear forming behind you. It is already too late to save your sanity. Have a nice .ytilaer
Echoes of a lifetime ago... The young man who would eventually become FPilot was running for his life. An entire mountainside was coming apart at the seams--and it was because of Mr. Bierce and his fellow Agents of F-Branch.
F-Branch had come to the mountain in Washington state because there was good intelligence that Solactor had a underground base there. They sure did. Not only was there a base with 10,000 Solactor soldiers, they had a factory going, building those huge horrific war machines with which they succeeded in flattening London, New Delhi, Brazilia and Newark--and lowering the property values of half the cities in the Lower 48. Agent Thack tipped us off. We didn't know Agent Thack tipped the TRUTH--and Solactor had stolen TRUTH's files on us.
What F-Branch (more formally known as Sciensassin Team Fooldyaman) hoped was a simple, pre-emptive strike turned into a debacle that lasted five hours. Agent Dirk Tuskes was last seen taking on twenty soldiers with a hand grenade he didn't expect to live long enough to throw. Agent Ramses Calabreze was M.I.A. And the extraction flight was overdue.
What Agent Bierce didn't know at the time was the raid was giving Kerg Batse the opportunity to revolt against the Great Wight of Solactor. The Great Wight, in his infinite hatred of living people, was planning to sterilize Earth by creating a huge chaos field between Earth and the sun. Acting like a magnifying glass, the chaos field would tighten the sun's light into a beam capable of lancing through the planet and overradiating the core to the point of explosive eruption--atomizing billions of people. For once, Kerg found an evil plan worth fighting AGAINST, and he redirected the chaos field, so the beam would only strike the mountain and kill the Great Wight. So it was an untidy solution, Kerg didn't have much time to think it through. Maybe Kerg thought there might be a way to escape the disaster. He spend his whole life flirting with disaster, after all.
None of that was known or mattered any to Agent Bierce, trying to outrun a goon squad that wanted his head. No ammo left in the gun. Body armor getting tattered--won't hold for much longer. Running out of tricks. Running out of energy. Running out of time. Just keep running.
Just as Agent Bierce caught sight of the F-Roc, piloted by Agent Wadsworth and Agent Orndoff, a chaos field existed in the space between Sol and Earth, lasting only for an instant. And that's all it needed.
The whole world was white. And then it was black.
The world was told it was a volcano eruption. Agent Bierce was dismissed from F-Branch--what was left of it. FiB swept up F-Branch's ashes. FPilot would always have the recurring nightmare of running from the mountain, and waving in vain for F-Roc to pick him up before Hell broke loose--just as it does.
FPilot waved in vain from the deck of the SOF.
But this time, he had the tire iron in his hand. It connected with the circuit breaker for the holodeck and half a dozen other systems. FPilot woke up with a start.
Silly sighed. "Looked, you and you're friends are the only one who might be able to seal the chaos barrier, to put right what we once put wrong..." Gunth growled. "Look, if SNAF is taking over this universe, I say this is the time to run. Find another universe and go."
Smith frowned. "No, Gunth. We have a responsibilty. Ethics before results. The ends do not, can not, and never do justify the means."
The BIF are free charachters. Anyone can use them, just try to keep them in charachter. Gunth is the gung-ho geek, acting as the leader. Smith is the oldest member of the group, afraid of being the leader but with a very strong ethical code. Silly and ? are basicly good guys uncofortable with the weird things they're involved with.
Taliesin sighed as he reached into his pockets, feeling the handle of his athalme, or sacrificial dagger. ~At least they didn't disarm me,~ thought Taliesin. ~That's a mark in their favor.~
"You need me to seal the chaos barrier?" said Taliesin. "That could be a problem. My brother and Lillian Brooks are somewhere in Europe, out of contact and Pygmalion went into the Spirit World and has kept silence. That leaves me and Matt Hawkins. And Matt's back in Canada. So that more or less just leaves me."
"Are you saying you can't do it?" asked Smith.
"No, I'm not saying that," said Taliesin. "I'm saying it would be more difficult. However, the question remains, where the Hell is Will Erixon and what were you doing in his room."
"We don't know," said Smith. "We came to request the aid of the SFC, but found the place deserted. We were trying to find out what exactly happened when you came in. Gunth panicked and... well... you know the rest."
"I did not panic!" called out Gunth angrily. "That was a necessary strategical tactic. When in a combat situation you immoblize first and then ask questions!"
"Who are you fighting against," said Taliesin. "This SNAF that you mentioned?"
"Yes," replied Silly. "They're a para-government organization dedicated to the subjegation and control of all, especially 'deviants.' And... they're mirrored versions of those you would know as the SFC."
Taliesin shivered slightly.
"The Science Fiction Club?"
"Yes," replied Silly. "Well... most of them. Apparently they have somebody else working for them. Somebody new. We don't know too much about him, but he sent us this recording."
Silly pulled out a tape-recorder and pressed play.
From the tape came a whisper, low and hypnotic.
"Mimes, in form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly--
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
"It's a passage from 'the Conqueror Worm,'" said Gunth, "that's a poem from.... What's the matter?"
Taliesin had gone pale as a sheet and his body began to shake.
"It can't be," said Taliesin, his voice barely audible. "I killed him. I scattered his brains against a wall and crushed the remains."
Todd nervously shifted from one foot to another in the alleyway. He caressed his handgun, held firmly in its shoulder houlster, and glanced from side to side.
~Damn the man's theatrics,~ Todd thought to himself. ~Why did we need to meet here?~
"Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania."
Todd whirled around at the voice, his gun appearing in a flash.
In front of him was a tall man. He wore a long black trenchcoat which held him in a pool of darkness, and his hair was blond and held in a long braid. The man watched Todd from blue-gray eyes as hard as flint, smoky through glasses.
The man smiled sardonically.
"A little jumpy, aren't we, my friend?"
"Damien, I would appreciate if you behaved in a more professional manner," replied Todd.
"True professionals determine what manner is professional," the sorcerer replied. "I would appreciate if you remember that I am not one of Mr. Rikk's lapdogs. I work with you because your work currently interests me. I am not one to be ordered about."
Todd's eyes narrowed.
"You also promised to do the job," he said. "Have you found Taliesin?"
"My esteemed double is disgustingly easy to trace at the worst of times," replied Damien. "I know where he is. Hopefully, he will lead us to the rest of the SFC."
"See that he does," replied Todd. "And see that you-"
But Todd was talking to an empty alleyway.
Tom the Fanboy
Nodrog handed Tom the Fanboy the gun. "HERE... I meen, here... hey, hear! I mean, I can hear! My hearing is back!" Tom gave Nodrog the thumbs up and held the gun like one of Charlie's angels. As he looked over the note he did a hair flip and turned to cover the prisoners.
"Here, um, see if you can do anything like cover up mirrors. That might help. I need to test some theories." Nodrog said before beginning typing on the computer. Tom did his rarely used "sexy chick" voice and spoke to the prisoners.
"OK boys, time to get busy. First thing I want you to do is take you r shirts off." NonMugle and Pi-Rho looked at each other nervously and whispered.
"Do you think he's serious?"
"He's got the gun-"
"His profile said he wasn't trained in pistols."
"He's 8 feet away!"
"He can also hear you both." Interrupted Tom "OK so I was kiddin', good call. See I was thinking we could use your shirts to mop up some of this oil and wipe it all over the mirrors but I've got a better idea. And it doesn't involve me having to look at half naked dudes. Now we're going to go to the nearest supply closet and get some paint....." Luckily, As the requisitions officer and the ship's best scrounge he knew where ALL the ships' equipment was. He gave a wave to the busy Nodrog as he led the two "deputies" away down the hall.
".....and I do SO have pistol training! I've been on two paintball outings, numerous rubberband and squirt gunfights, as well as a couple hours in the Klamath Hills with my granpa. GEEZE! From what Tim showed me I thought you guys actually KNEW stff!"
"Hey! We haven't read up on auxilary files for months!"
"That's another thing! You guys don't even pay attention to archive updates! I mean I have a whole slough of webcomics and I ALWAYS........"Tom trailed off his belittlement of the new deputies as he led them away.
Nodrog hissed in frustration. The Sattelite of Fan's computer system had always been erratic, but now it fealt like it was actually fighting him. Every time Nodrog tried to draw power away from the holodeck or use any of the security systems, the commands get twisted. Something was seriously wrong with the Sattelite of Fan's central control nexus. "Crud." muttered Nodrog. "This is useless. It's like something is short-circuiting the Sattelite's fuse box. I'll have to try to override at the auxilaries."
Nodrog turned and saw a large baseball bat swinging toward him. The last image he saw, before fading into a pain-filled unconciousness, was seeing a 32-sided die clutched in a baseball glove.
Gordon hissed, looking from the reflection of Baeball Batman's vinyl cape. "Idiot!" he yelled, even though Baseball Batman didn't seem able to hear him. "I... I meen, HE was one of the good guys!"
FPilot stood up and yanked the circuit breaker for the holodeck to make sure it was off. But he could still feel electricity surge through the connection. He didn't want to pull the master switch because that would shut down EVERYTHING. Well, it's a crude solution, FPilot thought, but it's the only one I could think of...
He pulled out one of NonMugle's M-100 firecrackers and wedged it into the fuse slot for the holodeck circuit. Then he lit it with Pi Rho's Zippo and took cover behind a mattress that had fallen into the corridor when the SOF made planetfall--
Reality flickered. It felt to Muttley as though space was shivering, as the train, the glow and the shadows snapped in and out of existance. No: horrified, he saw that the shadows were condensing into vague humanoid shapes. He couldn't recognise what they were, but he didn't think they looked friendly. Finally, the entire scene simply blew up, like Gerry Anderson's exploding concrete, and all that was left was blue smoke, slowly clearing. Fearfully, he looked for the shadows; but they were still nebulous, still condensing slowly and frighteningly. "Time I was somewhere else" thought Muttley (specialist subject: the bleedin' obvious), and he legged it for the nearest gap in the wall. "Someone's on the ball today; - they must have cut off the holodec power. Thanks, mate - "You Make Me Reeeaaaall" " sang Muttley, in a dreadful Jim Morrison impersonation, as he slipped through the broken wall of the chamber. Unbidden, the words of the next track rose up in his mind; "Blood on the streets, its up to my ankles, Blood on the streets, its up to my thighs". Just can't keep a happy moment going today, can we?
He was forced to stop and look for a route. The floor stopped in front of him, and a latticework of girders stretched out and up, farther than he could see. Up seemed better than down; he slung the camera on his back, aimed for a patch of floor fifty feet above him, and started climbing.
Behind him in the holodec, the shadows finally became fully formed figures. They looked at one another, then without a word followed the path Muttley had taken a few minutes earlier.
Muttley rolled onto the ledge formed by a detached patch of flooring. He was finding it difficult to breathe, and flopped over on his back, gasping. "It would be a horrible pun; but I think I'm suffering from inspiration failure" he wheezed.
His face was lit by a dull red glow. The light on his camera had come on again. Anxiously, he twisted round to face the viewfinder.
FPilot had no way of knowing whether blowing the circuit breaker out of the wall did any good, but he remembered that somebody was in the room and therefore could be in serious trauma because of it. So he knew he had to get there posthaste. But how to get up there? The lifts were all down--literally. NonMugle's powder charge also wrecked the elevators' reset board, so the motors that worked them would get no power forever.
Then FPilot remembered--they'd have no gravity control either! He forced open the first set of lift doors he came to, and sure enough, when he took a penny and opened his hand to drop it down the shaft, it didn't drop. The gravity controls for the other levels had canceled Earth's gravity and made the shaft a microgravity field.
FPilot opened a housekeeping locker and found a galvanized iron bucket. "Time for a rerun of Truck Dodges in the 24th Freeway Lane..."
Into the shaft, carefully...set a firecracker in the bucket and light it...point the bucket rim down, "stand" on the bucket's bottom and it'll be just like that time I had to eject from my fighter jet--ba-BOOOOOOM!
Before he even thought about it, he was nearly to the roof of the shaft--and was hitting gravity first!
His foot caught the rim of the top deck door and FPilot slammed face first into it. The bucket flew by, clattered against the ceiling and then fell back down past him.
FPilot took a painful breath, hanging on for dear life. He found the emergency door open handle and pulled the doors open.
* * *
"Edwardson Crater, I presume!?" FPilot asked the camera-toting man at the entrance to the holodeck.
FPilot took one look at the direction Muttley was pointing his camera and gasped--"Oh no."
Muttley said, "Come again, mistah?"
FPilot told him, "Don't stick around. Halfway down the corridor behind you is a flight of steps down. Take them, turn left, and go straight to the theatre. Nodrog and Tom are there waiting for you. Go!"
The lead figure of the holodeck intruders growled, "I recognize your voice, Agent Bierce. How could I forget..."
FPilot gasped under his breath, "Kerg Batse."
Muttley repeated the name, immediately knowing from FPilot's tone of voice that Kerg was a longtime no-friend and a brouhaha was brewing.
Tom the Fanboy
Tom reminisced about when he gained his Eagle Scout Badge. The project he had done to exhibit his leadership skills had been to organize the repainting of his hometown landmark. The world's tallest barbershop pole. At 70 feet tall it took a scaffold and a donated Bucketlift to paint the thing, the city's 50 lift helped to speed the process along too. The operation he now led was much smaller in personelle but nearly as complicated.
Nonmugle and Pi-Rho were supposedly deputized by FPilot but Tom was told to keep them covered. He'd never met either of them before so he really wasn't sure. Despite his doubts he got them to follow orders well enough, but that was probably the gun.
Leading the two through the ship to paint over the mirrors was taking quite awhile but it gave him a great chance to see just how badly the SoF had been dammaged. It would be helpful when he got back to the "meeting" to know what the condition was.
"I'm out of paint again." Pi-Rho complained. Tom pulld another can from the shopping cart he was pushing and rolled it at the painter.
"You shouldn't slather so much on you know. We've got a lot more to do you know." Tom reprimanded the deputy. Of the two of them Pi always seemed to be the one doing the most. Whether it was the most complaining, painting, or spilling; he always did more than the other. Tom examined NonMugle and considered that he was fairly calm, but nervous, considering the situation. fight or flight I suppose. Or something like that.... Tom thought to himself.
"We've finished the womens washroom for this hall. is that all for this deck?" asked NonMugle as the two paint splotched workers stepped into the hall. "Yeah, move on down that way to the stairs. We'll go back to the theater to check for the others now. I reckon that all 4 upper deck's reflective surfaces should be a good start. We can take care of the main deck and the 4 subleves next." Tom said happily as the other two groaned at the idea of more work. No wonder these two left the FiB! They're so lazy they probably couldn't even finish a mission report without a lunchbreak!
Tom stopped at a computer station to restart the ship's stereo at a lower volume level. He loved to sing along and thought it'd be fun to belt out tunes while he led the prisoners around. "Ba.... BUM BUM BUM, doo doo doo doo doo doo BA BUM BUM BUM...oooooh..." he sang as the movie soundtrack of "Horrors of the Little Shoppe" began throughout the ship. He couldn't help but grin as the two slipped a step down the stairs in surprise.
-----MEANWHILE IN THE SNAF DUNGEON----
The Flogman sang the Italian aria once more in his cold tenor voice as he slid down the bottom hall of the dungeon. He loved to hear his voice echo off of the rusty beams hundreds of feet above him. the reverberation was just enough that if sang from the bottom level as he was now doing, it seemed as if some ghostly presence was mimicing him. By the scuffling in the bottom hall's cells he could tell it achieved the effect he was looking for.
Thomas came to the crescendo of the song and shouted the words directly into the window of a hacker who had changed Sttim's E-Mail password........ in 1996. When he paused for breath he heard the chattering of the man's teeth, Thomas imagined that the man was probably chattering out binary by this point. Most of the bottom level prisoners were quite mad after all, if not from their time before coming here then most definitely due to Thomas' attentions.
The Flogman strode through to the center of the halls as he reached the last stanzas of the song. Signalling two of the goggled and hairless guards over to open a cell, he ended the song with a long held note. he took a breath to calm himself and tuned to the now open door.
"Ah, Miss Burystruden. Do be so kind as to accompany the guards to a private concert. I'm afraid that the next performance will require some acompanyment." He clasped his hands as the guards dragged the red haired ex-star from her cell. "......your screams shall do nicely."
FPilot heard Muttley trot down the staircase as he stared down Kerg Batse and his bodyguard of Solactor troopers...all wearing their trademark wolf-motif body armor.
Kerg Batse said, "You are underdressed for the occasion of this reunion, Agent Bierce."
"I'm not an agent anymore, so you don't have to call me that, if you feel uncomfortable with the term." This was a bizarre Mexican standoff: with FPilot at the threshold of the holodeck, and no other way out of the room, all FPilot had to do to trap them was close the door and lock it. But FPilot knew the Solactor boys probably had a load of explosives in their kits--if he locked them in they could just bust right back out.
"I was trapped in the chaos stasis sphere for two whole decades. It was the only way to escape Mount Saint Ellen and be sure the Great Wight couldn't leave on his own."
"Quite ingenious of you." FPilot could see that the Solactor troops held their assault guns low. Fingers were off the triggers--for the moment. He knew that they thought he was armed. FPilot had one hand out of their sight--the one holding Pi Rho's Zippo, with a miniMolotov bomb up the same sleeve. This could get tremendously interesting very quickly... "The world owes you a little debt of gratitude. I suppose you've made good use of all that time in exile, maybe reflecting upon all the pain your crusade to rule the world has brought you. I'm sure you'll find the world of 2001 C.E. kinder to ex-terrorists than 1981--"
FPilot was silent.
Kerg Batse continued, "I was prepared to endure any trial, any pain, any insult, any disgrace if it worked toward my dominion over all humankind in 1981 and I still am prepared now! My release from exile is a sign the time is right for my conquest of the human race! This opportunity is mine--and thus the victory shall be mine!"
FPilot knew it was coming, and his thumb rolled the flint on the lighter...but he was hoping to wake up from the nightmare...
The Solactors shouted in unison "Victory, Hail!" and cocked their guns.
The wick on the miniMolotov began to burn...
Silly looked at Taliesin in concern.
"He-he's... I'm not sure what he is," said Taliesin. "He might be a version of myself from an alternative universe or some demon from my subconscious. He has different origins for himself each time I meet him. He's an inhuman monster who enjoys playing mind-games with people and screwing with their psyche. But he can't be hear."
"Why not?" asked Gunth.
"Because I beat his brains out against a wall and smashed his body with a concrete block until nothing was left but a smear."
"I... uh... thought you said he was a pacifist," whispered Smith to Silly.
"I did," she replied nervously.
"Okay, so this Damien is working with SNAF," said Gunth. "The question is what are we going to do about it?"
In a room beyond time and space, on a board that spanned lightyears if time had been a meaningful concept in the, three figures played chess. Well, one figure played chess; it appealed to Death's sense of irony to play chess. Order was more similiarly focussing on keeping the pieces straight, while Chaos insisted on knocking the pieces down. "Please stop that" Death said for the 24,193,293,283th time as Chaos shook the table, scattering the chess pieces. Only recently had Death managed to get the two sets of pieces to interact, when a few gray pawns had worked themselves on the white side of the board. This had allowed Chaos to become a bit more powerful. This was worrying both Order and Death; Order, because he knew it was predestined that eventually Chaos would win, and Death because if this was the time for Chaos's victory, Death was in for a lot of work. And the multiverse did not pay overtime. Chaos suddenly smiled on the board. "Remember the ala mode!" screamed Chaos, and promptly vanished. Death and Order frowned as they studied the board. "This is going to be very messy." muttered Death. Order whimpered at the thought of mess. Death sighed. "Fine, fine, he took over a black piece, I guess you'll have to go take over a white piece."
The Flogman blinked, and then giggled. It was a high pitched giggle, even more insane then anything his prisoners had ever produced. The Flogman hurried to the doors, seeking to free his most insane 'patients'. "Hurry, my fiends..." The Flogman chuckled. "We have to hurry to free her..."
"10101000 10010101 01010101 000101110 10100101 01010111 01101010 001010010 10001010 10101110 01010010 010010101 10010011" asked the hacker.
"Shanna's mother, of course!" cried the Flogman. He guestured, and chaos spread before him, opening a portal between worlds.
Ever hear of the game Huck&Haul?
FPilot might have been a master of it. Because now most of the top deck of the SOF was on fire, thanks to FPilot's arm and Pi Rho's donated liquorette bottle bombs. The scene was a continous racket of gunfire, richocheting bullets, firecrackers popping, and the whoosh of flame catching gasoline.
So far, FPilot managed to not get hit by Solactor's hardball. But all the dodging on top of the effort that he had already put forth was beginning to take its toll, and it couldn't last. FPilot knew he was outclassed firepowerwise--and a lucky shot by any one of the ten could be THE END. A retreat was in order.
And then, as he dropped down the stairwell to the next level, FPilot saw a device that read: IN CASE OF MEGLOMANIACAL WIGHT SUPREMACIST MILITANTS, BREAK GLASS
He broke the glass.
Agent Jones turned to meet the incoming messenger, tightly gripping the almost-complete artifact “What is it, Agent Green?”
“Sir, Pinkerton hasn’t reported in yet!”
“What?” Agent Jones sat up with a start.
“It gets worse, sir. He had the last bit of the device in his possession!”
“Send a team to retrieve it!” Agent Jones began pacing on the SOF control room dais, stomping and releasing a litany of curses. He stopped, looking at the stricken agent Green “Well?”
Agent Green shifted uneasily under the livid gaze of his superior “But we don’t know where…”
“THEN FIND OUT!!!” Agent Jones turned his attention towards the agent manning the security controls. “Are they still fighting?”
“Yes, sir. Should we sto…”
“No, let it continue. As long as they are kept busy they aren’t trying to save their friends and we have the time we need to finish the extraction of the second to final piece from this ship’s core.” He massaged his temples, obviously lost in thought. “Once we have all of it we should see better results, even with the least imaginative or intelligent mind on the planet.”
Finally he regained his composure, straightened his tie and addressed the small army of agents grouped beside him in the control room. “Here is a rundown; Tell our men in the core to continue extraction. Agent Green will lead a small group to retrieve Agent Pinkerton and the last piece of the device. Meanwhile we let our other ‘friends’ scurry around this station to their hearts content while we wait for that Wish person to be dropped off, ensuring we have a weapon against these damn… invaders.” He stopped for a moment, clearing his throat and flattening the creases in his jacket. “That is assuming we get the final two parts of that device in a timely manner, of course, but I’m sure we will.”
Tom the Fanboy
The glass shattered beneath FPilot's blow. A klaxon blared out and a hatch on the floor opened, from below the deck rose two glossy black containers rose from the shadowy depths. They stopped moving about 7 feet up and the klaxon turned off. Steam jetted out of the canister's edges and the front panel of each of the two canisters folded down.
The Solactors skidded to a stop in front of the canisters and readied their guns. Out of the canisters strode two large and intimidating androids. On the left stood a man in a large leather trenchcoat and a shaved head while on the left stood a man with a red tank top and gold chains with a mohawk. The two looked around at the scene and adjusted to being activated. The Solactors took advantage of their disorientation and let loose a barrage of fire.
The two androids looked down at the ammunition bounce off their chests, looked at each other, and slowly turned to glare at the firing squad.
"I pity the foo' that try and shoot Robo-T!" shouted the one on the left.
"You just shot at the wrong bad motha'" growled the one on the right.
FPilot slowly backed away from the two androids to avoid being targeted in what looked to be a very painfully butt whoopin.
Flogman laughed as he watched the psychiatrists flee in terror. Well, most of them... a few of the psychiatrists had actually been insane enough that Chaos could recruit them. It was one of those psychiatrists who was busy trying to unlock the door that led to the room holding Shanna's mom. The fact that the psychiatrist was trying to use a chicken bone to unlock the door, of course, did not worry Flogman at all. While the personified representation of chaos was an extremely powerful being, he was not particularly bright when it came to simple, logical problems.
Death sighed in relief. So far, Chaos had been in Flogman's body for an hour, and Death had only had to make one unscheduled pick up. One of the running psychiatrists had not taken his doctor's advice about healthy eating to heart. The result was the psychiatrist had become a 'dead man running', suffering a massive coronary failure in midstride. "Mayby this won't be so bad after all." Death muttered to himself as he laid his scyth down next to a soda machine. "Hmmm, Cup Root Bear or Spite Soda..."
-Meanwhile, on the SOF bridge-
"HeyDerfLookWhatIFound!" one of the SOF's nanites called to another.
"CoolWhatIsIt,Nad?" asked Fred the Nanite.
"IThinkItIsARealityDysfunctionKey" said Dan the Nanite. "YouNeedItToMakeAnImaginationAmplifier."
"CoolNad" said Fred. "LetsGoPutItInASafeSpot."
Fred and Dan begin dragging the Reality Dysfunction Key out of Nodrog's pocket and into the most secure place aboard the Sattelite: the Not Entirely Unlike Tea and Other Nasty Stuff (TM) storage locker.
-Meanwhile, somewhere in the Sattelite of Fans-
FPilot backed into the Deep Shadows (Patent Pending) and bumped into... Baseball Batman. "Are you a force of order?" Baseball Batman snarled, raising his bat in case a very painful butt whoopin' was needed. The die in Baseball Batman's glove glowed, sensing a potent force for either chaos or order nearby.
Gordon frowned as he checked a complex looking compass. Instead of reading 'North /East / South / West', this compass read 'Good / Order / Evil / Chaos'. Currently. the neadle pointed Chaos-Evil. "Either I need to recalibrate my moral compass" muttered Gordon, "Or we authors neet to get back to writing about the forces of goodness and/or order."
For a moment, Baseball Batman looked to FPilot like one of the Solactor boys he had just left to the ire of the Blaxecutors. He dropped the only weapons he had left (the grease gun and the tire iron). Then he noticed something else about him--and said:
"I am a force for liberty and justice. I have just come from a battle with champions of tyranny and ruthlessness. The chaos of war approaches. If that isn't evil, I do not know what evil is."
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