Blue Light Productions presents

[CONTINUITY NOTE: This takes place in February 1997, when the Century 
Pact was still going.]
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       [Cover shows a very familiar and chilling sight. The mushroom 
                 cloud of an exploding atom bomb.]
                        "When atoms collide."
The room was empty, just long tables that passed for beds, and doors at 
either end. One of them opened, and a head popped in. The room was 
surveyed, then the person crept in.
        He walked cautiously over to one of the beds, keeping an eye on 
the door he had come in by, but mainly on the other door. The bed had a 
large sheet draped over it, bulging to show something underneath it.
        Hands reached out and drew the sheet back, revealing a body 
underneath. Holes in the jumper gave evidence to the five bullets that 
had passed through it.
        The body's eyes opened, and hands shot out to grasp the person 
above by the neck and start throttling.
        Choking sounded for a moment, then the flesh of the neck flowed 
and remolded itself oddly, until the hands strangling it were free.
        "Marsha. Marsha, it's me, Morph."
        "I know," hissed Marsha. "You shot me, you bastard."
        "I didn't have a choice," said Morph, still keeping an eye on 
the door. "If I hadn't, there's no telling how many would have died. 
Bennington isn't the stablest when it comes to shapeshifters."
        "My death obviously didn't concern you," said Marsha, sitting 
up, and swinging her legs off the table. She paused for a few moments 
before getting up, allowing her body to get used to rising.
        "Like Mark Twain, your death has been grossly exaggerated," said 
Rick. "I'm just glad you played dead until I could get you from the 
medical room. But we will be facing both our deaths unless you get a 
move on. For a while I thought he knew about me."
        "I'm not stupid," Marsha said crossly. "So why didn't you shoot 
him?" Marsha asked as Rick helped her up. "You had a gun, and he was 
right there."
        "Because I don't want him dead. Just out of my life."
        Rick froze as he heard the doors behind him, which he had come 
through, crash open.
        "Mister Mansfield." Bennington's voice made Rick groan 
internally. "Allow me to grant your wish. I will be out of your lives 
soon enough. Or rather, both your lives will be out."
        Goons filled the room and grabbed the two heroes.
        "I admit, I could simply kill you where you stand. You've 
brought me enough trouble to justify it-"
        "You feel you have to justify our deaths?" said Marsha.
        Bennington continued as if she hadn't spoken. "But I have other 
uses for you. One more test to run. Boys?"
        Marsha and Rick felt something cool press against their necks, 
and there was a small *phhht* sound, then they both lost consciousness.
"Missy?" Missy looked up. Standing in the doorway of her temporary 
office in the University of Utah was Doctor Stomper. "I'm been talking 
to Dr. Van Brunann. He said I should talk to you."
        "What you doing here?"
        "The Ultimate Ninja was wondering what happened to you. We 
haven't heard anything for over a month." Stomper didn't mention that he 
had been bugging the ninja about it, and so the LNH leader finally sent 
him out here.
        "Not much happening."
        "I was told you were burgled yesterday."
        Missy nodded. "Morph held us hostage so Bennington could get 
university equipment."
        "*Morph* did?"
        "He joined their gang. Dva also with him."
        "Sounds like I have a lot to catch up on."
        After a somewhat contorted conversation, Doctor Stomper had most 
of the salient details.
        "So where did Agent go?"
        "Check with sources. Try to find out who has technology like 
        "Can't say I've heard of much like it," mused Doctor Stomper. "I 
know of many who can break things down and rewire them, but not 
componentised technology like that. But it could be related to Kirbian 
        "Not Kirbian," said Missy, shaking her head. "Agent said."
        "He didn't leave anything I could look at?"
        "No. Too dangerous, he said."
        "Well, what were you doing before I came in?"
        "Reading this." Missy held up a book, _Advanced positronic 
theory_. "Interesting."
        Doctor Stomper raised an eyebrow. "How about we do something a 
little more practical. I've got a flight.thingee, what say we go 
Rick's attention was roused by someone gently slapping his cheek. 
"Wakey-wakey, shape boy."
        Rick tried to lunge for the hand, to bite it, but it was whipped 
away too quickly, and all he got was laughter. Rick looked up into the 
smirking face of Mr. Two-tone.
        Rick went to slap him, but was stopped by restraints on his 
hands, which were placed behind his back. There was another set placed 
on his feet.
        "That's right." Rick looked around from Mr. Two-tone to see 
Frank Bennington standing over him. "No escape."
        Rick frowned, and pulled his hand from the restraint. Tried to 
pull his hand from the restraint. His shock grew as he found himself 
unable to free himself.
        "Special restraints. Designed to hold shape-shifters. Works 
quite well, don't you think?"
        "Rack off and die," Rick retorted. He coughed as he found his 
throat dry.
        Bennington looked at something, and Rick turned his head to see 
Marsha sitting nearby, also slowly coming around. And also similarly 
        "So glad your both awake. I would hate you you to miss this. The 
biggest blast of your life."
        Bennington lent over and patted something. To his horror, Rick 
recognised it as a large warhead. Glancing around he saw that they were 
in some kind of underground cavern, light provided by portable lighting 
        "As I'm sure you know, for some time we've been testing out 
these devices." Bennington's foot tapped a large box-like construction. 
Unknown to Rick, it was the same thing Agent found. "They work quite 
well at extracting out the radiation from the local environment, but I 
want to know how well."
        Bennington crouched down, and looked Rick right in the eye. "And 
you're going to find out for me. This close, if there's any radiation, 
I'm sure to find out from your irradiated corpses afterwards. At least, 
I hope there's enough to test. This box does absorb the radiation, but 
you'll still feel the effects of the blast."
        "How?" Rick croaked out.
        "How what?"
        "How did you know who I was?"
        Bennington snorted, and stood up.
        "We always run background checks," supplied Mr. Two-tone. 
"*Extensive* background checks. Rick Bergman, no such fellar. But we 
knew the Alt.Riders had been seen at the University. You work it out."
        "How many times you think you can set bombs off?" said Marsha. 
"You're gonna slip up sometime."
        Bennington turned slightly towards Marsha. "My pretty young 
thing," said Bennington. Rick saw the anger sweep over Marsha. "I don't 
intend to keep setting bombs off. This will be the last one. But I don't 
think too many people will bother to look for a bomb. You see, we're 
around about the centre of the Wasatch Front. Somewhere around Brigand 
City and Levan."
        That meant nothing to Rick, but he saw that it registered with 
Marsha. "Exactly," Bennington sneered. "I think everyone will be busy 
with other matters.
        "Come." Snapping his fingers, Bennington walked away, Mr. 
Two-tone followed.
        "How long?" Marsha yelled out after him.
        "About half an hour," Bennington called back. "Goodbye."
        Rick stared at Marsha. "What's so bad about the Wasatch Front?"
        "I think we have other concerns than discussing geological fault 
lines." Marsha started squirming, testing the limits of the restraints.
        "It's a fault line? How do you know?"
        "I don't. Peter does," Marsha said, referring to her other half. 
"He's been reading about it."
        "And we'd better get out of here!"
        "What is going to happen?" asked Rick, forcefully.
        "All right, all right." Marsha slumped back. The limits of the 
restraint were higher than hers. "He was reading a report about the area 
they published when this mess began. As you know, if that bomb goes off 
here, it will trigger an earthquake. And..."
        She closed her eyes, concentrating on Peter's words as he 
recited the report.
        "If the earthquake were to occur on a central part of the 
Wasatch fault, Utah should expect damage to buildings to exceed $4.5 
billion in Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties. This may only 
represent 20% of the total economic loss.
        "A 1976 study by the U.S. Geological Survey for a worst case 
earthquake on the central Wasatch fault estimated 2,300 casualties 
(assuming no dam failures), 9,000 injured and 30,000 homeless. The 
experience of the 1988 Armenian earthquake--and engineering judgment 
about the collapse potential of many Wasatch Front structures--suggests 
the 1976 fatality estimate is low."
The flight.thingee soared over the streets of Salt Lake City.
        "Nothing," said Doctor Stomper. He was peering out the window, 
looking for anything suspicious that would give a hint as to where any 
of the other Alt.Riders were.
        "Try another city?" suggested Missy, looking at a map.
        Stomper sighed. "May as well. Nothing useful here. Where?"
        "To the north," said Missy, pointing to the map, although the 
doctor wasn't looking. "Plenty of cities that way."
        Doctor Stomper nodded, a gesture unseen by Missy in return, and 
pointed the flight.thingee northwards.
The man glanced warily around the office, but there was no-one other 
than him and Agent in the room.
        "You realise you're taking a grave risk bringing this to me?" he 
        "Someone is behind this, and I have to find out who. You can 
help me do that."
        The man looked at the large box again. "Is it safe in there?"
        "As long as no-one tampers with it, yes." Agent frowned. 
"Senator Rattier, you will look into this, wont you? I know how these 
things can disappear."
        "Trust me, I have an utmost concern for this matter to be 
resolved. Alien technology being used by criminals, a cover-up that goes 
to the highest levels, these matters must be addressed."
        "Or turned into a profitable show for Fox," Agent muttered.
        "But your involvement in this cannot be revealed. The Alt.Riders 
already have serious allegations leveled at them over that matter in 
Phila.DEL.phia. Superheroes in general are being frowned upon. You must 
let me handle this, and not further matters yourself."
        Agent nodded. "Agreed."
        The senator held out his hand. Agent hesitated, then shook it.
Rick was bent awkwardly over the bomb, trying to see if there was 
anything he could do to stop it.
        Rick continued to look, trying to see something, anything 
helpful. He slipped backwards, and thumped to the floor. "Nothing."
        "Then help me get free."
        "How? You can't change shape."
        "So, you can't become a marshmallow."
        "And I can't become Silence either and freeze these things off. 
Does that make me totally useless?"
        Rick considered something. "Silence can freeze things?"
        "Never mind. Come over here."
        Shuffling around, Rick and Marsha got back to back. "Now grab my 
restraints." Rick did so. "Now hold tight."
        "What are you going to do?"
        "Just hold on."
        Rick could feel Marsha's hands while he held the restraints. 
They wiggled a bit, then slowly slid through the restraints. A worried 
look passed over Rick's face as he felt not all of the hands go through.
        "Are you all right?"
        Rick turned around as best he could and saw Marsha holding 
up...he turned away, sickened.
        "What's wrong?" Marsha asked. "Never seen someone with torn 
hands before? This damn field is stopping my body from regenerating. At 
least I can't feel it. But we're not finished yet." Marsha turned 
around, and held her feet out to Rick. "Grab those restraints."
        "Just do it!" Marsha snapped. Rick did so. "Now pull."
        Rick pulled on the restraints, and Marsha pulled backwards. Rick 
turned away, unable to look at Marsha's feet were squashed as they were 
pulled through the holes only large enough for her ankles.
        Rick fell back as the restraint finally popped free.
        Now that she was free of the field, her own natural bodily 
powers kicked in, and her hands and feet filled out to normal.
        "Right," she said a few moments later, and stood up. She reached 
down and picked up her shoes that had popped off.
        "Hey, how about me?"
        "I can't undo those things. But Silence can. And I don't want to 
lose my boots."
        "We're sitting beside a thermonuclear weapon, and you're worried 
about clothing?"
        Marsha flashed an angry look at Rick. "You shot me. Just be 
lucky I don't consider something worse for you."
        Rick flinched. He didn't say anything, while Marsha tided 
herself up, then changed.
        Silence put his hands on the restraints, and silenced the 
kinetic energy.
        "Aaah!" Cold bit into Rick's arms, but he bore it until Silence 
nodded. Rick smashed the restraint into the ground, and it shattered.
        A minute later, and Rick was standing free as well, the remains 
of the feet restraint lying about him.
        Silence and Morph studied the bomb.
        "How much time?" Silence asked.
        "About fifteen minutes."
        "Have to get it away."
        "Use me to get it to the surface." Morph oozed down and under 
the bomb, lifting it up onto himself, now an antigravity pad. Silence 
grabbed the radiation absorbing device and loaded it on also.
        Silence pushed the bomb along, hoping he picked the right way to 
the exit.
Silence placed a hand over his eyes, shielding them from the glare of 
the sun. They had spent five minutes getting out, emerging from a hill, 
and Silence looked around. Nearby was a main road, going north-south, 
but nothing else within sight.
        "I'll take it away," said a mouth, forming on the antigrav pad.
        A large fan grew from the back of the pad, turning into 
something like a hovercraft.
        "Just point," said Morph.
        Not being able to come up with a better idea, Silence pointed 
        The fan turned faster, and Morph hovered off, taking the bomb 
and the device with him.
The flight.thingee follow the main road north, passing over Bountiful, 
Kaysville, Clearfield, Ogden, North Ogden and Brigham City with no sign 
of overt suspicious activity.
        "Nothing strange detected?"
        "No," said Missy, studying the sensors. "Wait. Now something. 
Some kind of energy field."
        Missy gave directions, and the flight.thingee homed in onto a 
stretch of road between Brigham City and Levan.
        "There's someone there," said Stomper, slowing the 
flight.thingee down. "Who?"
        Missy looked out. "Dva!" she cried out. "It's Dva."
        "It's Silence," specified the doctor. "What's he doing here?"
        He brought the flight.thingee into land, and opened the door.
83 kilotonnes of thermonuclear power exploded. The surrounding landscape 
was instantly vapourised by the heat and force.
        The device clicked on, sucking the nearby radiation out before 
it could spread and burn anything.
        The force of the explosion continued, pushed debris out and up.
        In the sky a mushroom cloud formed.
The field agent snapped the rifle up to his eye, sighting on the target, 
his view passing over the target's jacket before sighting on the black 
        One squeeze, and the job was done. His finger tightened.
        Damn. Someone got in the way.
        The agent looked up. His target had paused, preparing to cross 
the street. He looked through the eye piece again, taking a moment to 
        And stared at the target looking directly back at him.
        The agent frowned, jerking away. There was no way the target 
could know he was here.
        He blinked, and looked again.
        Damn. Target lost.
        The agent peered out again normally, but there was no sign of 
the target in sight. Have to call in target lost. Damn. Always looks bad.
        His ears pricked up as he heard someone clearing their throat 
behind him.
        He swung around quickly, bringing the gun up to bear on the new 
target. Too slow. Far too slow.
        The gun was caught and torn from his grip.
        "And may I ask your name?"
        The agent looked up in shear surprise. How could the target be 
standing right in front of him?
        "Shame. I'll tell you mine, though. Call me..." the target 
grinned tightly, quickly, "Agent."
Doctor Stomper stumbled as the ground underneath him shuddered. "What 
the...?" He glanced at Silence to see him looking westward. Exonerably, 
his eyes were drawn in the same direction.
        The mushroom cloud loomed like a specter of doom on the horizon.
        "Into the flight.thingee," Stomper said, and pushed Silence into 
Missy, who was just coming out, and pushed both of them inside. He 
followed and shut the door.
        The flight.thingee lifted off.
        Doctor Stomper grimly set a course for the centre of the blast. 
"Silence, keep an eye on that dial," he said, pointing to a sensor. "If 
it twitches, I want to know about it."
        "What is it?"
        "Geiger counter."
        "Where Morph?" Missy asked.
        Silence said nothing, but pointed straight towards the cloud.
        No-one said anything for a short trip. Silence kept an eye on 
the dial, but nothing happened.
        "It's the Great Salt Lake," announced Stomper, as their 
destination drew near. "That would have shielded a lot of the blast. 
Well done."
        Although the damage had been lessened, a large quantity of water 
had still been thrown onto the surrounding area, as well as small cracks 
appearing in the ground.
        Stomper looked to Silence for a final confirmation, and Silence 
shook his head. Still no radiation.
        The flight.thingee landed by the lake, in a large pool of water 
that was slowly draining back into the lake.
        Silence led the way out, Missy following him. Doctor Stomper 
held back.
        "What destructive force has man unleashed this day?" Stomper 
muttered to himself.
        Silence looked at Missy in encouragement. "If someone could 
survive, it would be-"
        "Morph!" Missy cried out.
        Silence turned and looked where she was pointing. Lying on the 
ground just a little way from the water's edge was Morph, on his back 
and panting.
        Silence and Missy raced to him. Silence just grinned while Missy 
hugged him.
        "What happened?" asked Missy.
        Morph coughed a little. "I managed to kick up to Mach 3 or 4 or 
so." He waved a hand. "Found this lake. Thought it would be a good place 
to dump the missile. Got myself as far out as I could, then dropped the 
missile and the device in the water. There's no radiation, is there?"
        "If there was, you've know about it," said Stomper, from the 
flight.thingee door, his voice faint. "But, no."
        "Good. Right before the missile went off, I changed myself into 
a block of lead. Very shock resistant. After the blast, I became a 
bubble of air to get to the surface, then floated over here."
        "And Bennington was responsible for all this?" asked Silence.
        "Yeah. Although thanks to Dva and myself, it didn't destroy most 
of Utah."
        "We'd better get back to the University," said Doctor Stomper, 
disappearing inside.
Sitting in the common room with a mug of tea, Rick felt a lot better. 
Also, he was much drier, but being able to turn into flame and vapourise 
the water made that easy.
        One thing he didn't like was the way Doctor Stomper kept looking 
at him.
        "What are our chances of catching Bennington?" asked Stomper.
        "Slim," Rick replied. "He most likely paid the cops off to leave 
him alone, and more than likely has skipped town by now. This isn't even 
his area. He usually works in"
        "You two seem to meet up a lot," Stomper said. "I'm sure you'll 
be able to track him down."
        The tone in his voice set Rick off. "What is that supposed to 
mean? You think I'm a partner of his, or something?"
        "I know what you did," hissed Doctor Stomper. "Organic Lass 
still hasn't forgiven you."
        Rick sat back, stunned. "That was...."
        "Oh, how easy to forget. You only murdered someone! I would not 
recommend returning to the LNH any time soon."
        Rick turned away, unable to face Stomper's gaze. [See _Fan.Boy 
#12_ for the reason why - Footnote Girl]
        Dr. von Brunann watched this quietly, then turned to Silence. 
"Is there anything you can do about getting our equipment back?"
        "As of now," a voice interrupted. "It's not our problem."
        The group turned around to see Agent striding into the room. 
Agent looked steadily at Stomper. "We now officially hand the problem 
over to you. Do with it what you will."
        "But-" said Stomper.
        "But-" said Rick.
        Agent held up his hand. "No. We were sent in to find out what 
the problem was, and decide if further involvement from the LNH was 
required. That's our job description, and that's what we've done. The 
problem is Bennington, and you can come in and clean up after him."
        "Clean up after him?" repeated Stomper, incredulous.
        "Track down those other devices. Dr. von Brunann can tell you 
the bomb sites where they are."
        The geophysicist in question asked "Does this mean no more bombs?"
        Agent nodded. "But don't expect the clean up to be easy. You 
wont get your equipment back," he said to Dr. von Brunann, before 
turning to Stomper "and unless you hurry, you might not get those 
devices, either."
        "What? Why?" inquired Stomper.
        "Because Bennington was working for someone. Someone who could 
cover this up, who can control the elements involved. And who tried to 
have me killed."
        "You?" said Rick. "Who?"
        "Who else? The Loonited States Government."
        There were gasps of astonishment all round.
        "They're working with whoever supplied that technology, and they 
let Frank Bennington test it out for them. I gave the equipment I had to 
a certain senator, who would either see justice done...or try to get me 
out of the way. Either way I would find out who was behind this. And now 
I have."
        "Wild speculation is usually my field," commented the expositor 
        Agent spared him a brief look before looking to the other 
Alt.Riders. "With this anti-superhero policy coming out, if we push 
anymore, they'll try harder to get rid of us. If we don't, we stay alive."
        "That's it?" said Rick. "We just bow out?"
        "We just bow out. There are plenty of other cases that need our 
attention. This one is closed."
        Agent turned on his heel, and left.
        Rick looked apologetically at Stomper. "I'll try to change his 
        "Don't bother," said Stomper, glaring at Rick, before slumping 
back. "He's right. Now is not the time to provoke the government. 
Although I think he's exaggerating their involvement in this a little."
        "But what about our equipment?" asked Dr. von Brunann.
        "Consider it lost," said Doctor Stomper, sighing. "There isn't 
much we can do, either. Excuse me, I have some calls to make."
        Doctor Stomper rose, and left the room.
        Silence, Missy and Morph all looked at each other, and wondered 
what was next for them.
NEXT TIME: We look in on the Net.Elementalist and see what he's been 
doing over this time period. And be on the look out for some guest stars 
from other series.
In the coming-this-year-if-I'm-lucky _Alt.Riders #13_.
Mine. All mine.
Physics consultant Jameel al Khafiz.
Thanks go to the University of Utah for providing the information about 
earthquakes in their region on their web-pages.
Notes: An unsatisfactory ending? Well, Agent's right. There is nothing 
else they can do at this time. Maybe later. And yes, I do know exactly 
what the alien technology is, and where it came from. And the deals 
involved in getting it. Be on the lookout, as the explanation may come 
from unexpected sources (ie. other series).

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