Blue Light Productions presents

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       [The cover is again of the pyramid in the desert, this time
            with an eye, Acton Lord's eye, taking up one side.]
                 "Power corrupts. Corruption powers."
"So, somewhere, out there, Acton Lord is living large. And we have no 
idea where?" Barry summarised.
        "I already have an idea where," Agent muttered darkly. "Morph 
never reported in about that green pyramid in Egypt."
        They were sitting in their headquarters in having 
returned from the Safe where Acton Lord had been housed. *Had* being the 
operative word.
        Barry jerked up. "You sent Dva and Missy out there!" he said.
        "I sent Dva out there," Agent returned. "Missy asked to go."
        "And yet, you still let them go," Barry pointed out.
        "Better them than us."
        "Just what is that supposed to mean?"
        "You know that Acton Lord can corrupt. It's his very essence. 
And if he should get a hold of us... us corrupted doesn't bear thinking 
        "Shouldn't we get in touch with Dvandom Force? They've had 
plenty of experience dealing with him."
        "With the old Acton Lord, who isn't a threat anymore. This is 
the new Acton Lord, Charlie Risk. From what I have read of Dvandom 
Force's reports and psyche evaluations, he isn't in control, the 
Corruption Force is. That makes him something new and untested. Dvandom 
Force can't help us too much here. But I'll let them know what's going 
on. If we can't stop him, they'll be the next best chance."
        Barry frowned. "What makes you think he's in Egypt anyway? There 
could be other reasons for Rick not reporting?"
        "The pyramid. It's green."
        Agent took out a news capture of Acton Lord firing an energy 
bolt in the fight in Onyx City. [See _Dvandom Force fact, see 
#74-76 for the origin of the whole Charlie Risk/Acton Lord event. - 
Footnote Girl.] He tapped the picture. "It's *that* colour green."
        "If I didn't know better, I'd call that spurious reasoning."
        "Call it what you will. I know it's him."
        Barry stood up. "Then let's get out there."
        "Didn't you just hear me? He can't be given the chance to 
corrupt us."
        "If you are right, then it sounds like he's already gotten Rick. 
Not that I want to downplay the human side of this or anything, but 
that's pretty bad. We're going to have to go out there just to stop him. 
There's no way Dva or Missy could. And what if he gets them?"
        Agent didn't reply, or meet Barry's stare.
        "Oh my... you sent them out there!" Barry accused. "Like 
sacrificial lambs! You say that we're the ones to stop him, and we can't 
even get involved, and the ones who are involved can't do anything!"
        Several names and expressions flew through Barry's mind as he 
considered what Agent had done, but they went unsaid. Barry knew they 
wouldn't have any effect anyway.
        "I'm going out there," Barry said, turning away from Agent, 
Missy finally noticed when the entire jeep turned green. She stared at 
the jeep around her for a moment before slowly reaching out a hand. She 
touched the metal and drew finger back. On the tip of her finger, 
contrasting with her skin's blue hue, was a small splotch of green.
        Missy sniffed her finger carefully, but there was no 
identifiable smell. Peering at it, she became aware of a tingling 
sensation in her fingertip. No, not tingling, flaring... biting... 
        Missy shook her finger, but the green stain remained. She rubbed 
it on her outfit, smearing green streaks on it, but still the 
discolouration affected her. Now the feeling was getting intense, 
painful. As she stared, the green spread out, covering her finger, 
engulfing it. And it didn't stop there. In a heartbeat, her entire hand 
was green.
        Missy looked at it. Now her hand felt like it was on fire, but 
most of her mind was caught up in trying to analyse it. A virus of some 
sort? Some kind of infection that spread more rapidly than could be 
combatted by any simple means of medical treatment. So what other 
alternatives were there?
        By now it was creeping up her arm, nearly at her elbow. Whatever 
she did, she would have to move quickly. Glancing down, she noticed that 
the stains on her outfit had also started spreading. Whatever this was, 
it didn't need organic matter to transmit itself. But then the fact that 
the jeep was green should be enough to support that theory.
        She had to get rid of it, there was no other choice. She could 
strip her clothes off, but what point in doing that if she herself 
remained infected? Looking around, she spotted her only other option.
        Missy picked up the laser gun, ignoring the pain of her arm that 
was trying to eat into her mind. This was no time for emotional 
involvement, this was science!
        Aiming the blaster carefully, Missy lined up on her own 
shoulder. One solid blast should destroy her upper arm, and with that 
any chance of the virus, whatever it was, of getting to her.
        Missy squeezed the trigger... but stopped just before the final 
pressure that would cause it to fire. The green was already at her 
shoulder, and then in a leap crossed over onto her upper torso. Any shot 
now to rid her body of her infection would be as likely to cut through 
her neck.
        Missy contemplated continuing, but the finesse of the gun fire 
needed was a bit beyond her at this point. Especially as her hand was 
        The infection must have reached something vital, because before 
Missy could do anything else, her entire body spasmed. The hand holding 
the gun clenched, but the blast went harmlessly through the side of the 
        Missy was unable to move anything below her neck. All she could 
see of her body was now green. She couldn't see her face, but there was 
a crawling sensation creeping up her neck and towards her mouth. Missy 
tried to scrunch her mouth around, as if that would ward off what was 
coming, but of course it didn't. At the same time, her hair was starting 
to feel as if it was standing on end.
        Panic finally made its way through the scientific detachment, 
but by this point all Missy could do was open her eyes in terror.
        Even that didn't last as a green haze grew over her vision.
Marsha pinned Acton Lord in the torchlight. The rest of the room was in 
darkness, but she wasn't worried in the slightest about that. Though 
there was something else in the darkness that had already attacked her 
once, all that paled compared with the being before her.
        She had heard of Acton Lord, of course. One couldn't be in the 
LNH without knowing about one of the worst villains of all time. She had 
even faced a version of him from another dimension, and that hadn't been 
pleasant. [See _World Tales Annual #2_ - Footnote Girl.]
        While she knew him, what he said next surprised her. "I know 
you." This was new to Marsha.
        "We haven't met," Marsha hissed, wondering how he could see her 
when she had the only light source pointed at his eyes.
        "Oh, not like this," replied Acton Lord, sweeping a hand over 
himself. "You'll find out soon enough, though. But, for now, you stay 
        At this, Marsha took a step forwards. "I don't think so," she 
started, then gasped. Slowly, she fell to her knees, then flat onto the 
ground. Couldn't... move...
        "You'll stay right where you are even if I have to corrupt the 
very gravity around you," Acton Lord snarled. Marsha couldn't see him 
now, her head was pinned to the floor, and the torch shone in a random 
direction, but she could hear him move off the pedestal he'd stood on.
        "Now I have two of you," he said, his voice much closer. "Or 
rather, three of you. In fact...," he paused. "Let's make it four. But 
such pathetic specimens. What kind of superheroes are you supposed to 
be? You have the body of marshmallow. Your other half has powers of 
silence. Big whoopie. The only worthwhile superhero among you so far was
the shapeshifter. Not he was always a superhero. He has some potential,
that one."
        Morph? So Acton Lord had Rick. That explained why he had never 
reported back.
        _That might also explain,_ put in Peter, in her mind, _just what 
else is in here with us. It's hard to track someone who can literally 
become anything._
        "Of course," whispered Marsha.
        "Of course," agreed Acton Lord. "There are those among you for 
whom it will be sweet to take. I am hoping that they will put in an 
appearance. They're the ones I really want."
        At that point, Marsha would have given almost anything to be 
able to spit on him.
        "Not to say you won't do. You will for now. Something to amuse me 
until they turn up. And then you too shall join me or die. Or join me 
and die. We'll see."
        Marsha slowly became aware of an unpleasant sinking sensation. 
With a mental gasp of horror she realised that the gravity was very 
slowly pulling her softened body out of shape. There was only one way to 
stop that.
        Peter gasped as he felt the sudden effect of high gravity on his 
        "And now the other one," Acton Lord said. "You know what would 
be interesting?" Without waiting for an answer, he went on "Corrupting 
that bond between you. Seeing an amalgam of the two of you would be... 
        The way Acton Lord said that last word sent a shiver up Peter's 
spine. However, he wasn't completely helpless. Fighting the pull of 
gravity, silencing the perversion of gravity, Peter managed to push 
himself up off the floor. With a heave, he rolled from the spot he was 
held in. As he had hoped, as soon as he had vacated the one area Acton 
Lord had affected, he was free to stand.
        "How did you do that?" Acton Lord hissed, sounding none too 
        Peter grinned to himself. This darkness could work both ways. If 
he couldn't see Acton Lord, then Acton Lord couldn't see him either. In 
theory at least. And Peter had the advantage of moving silently.
        "Don't think you can escape me that easily. I have many a plan 
for you, and none of them involve you getting away. Or living, or that 
matter." A small green glow lit up on the opposite side of the room to 
Peter, revealing Acton Lord's presence as he powered up an energy blast.
        Walking quickly but carefully Peter made his way around the 
room. He knew there were the tomb and pillars in the center to avoid, as 
well as the large statue to the side. And the strange thing that was 
probably Morph, but he couldn't do anything about that now.
        After a few moments, he stood as close to Acton Lord as he 
dared. Concentrating hard, Peter gathered all of his silencing ability 
up, then slammed down on the power Acton Lord was holding.
        The green ball snuffed out, with a squawk from Acton Lord in 
surprise. A struggle started, between Peter holding Acton Lord's power 
in check, and Acton Lord having ever more power flowing to keep in 
check. The end wasn't really in doubt, Peter just didn't have the levels 
of power needed to match Acton Lord.
        With a gasp from Peter, the mental battle ended, with an 
explosion of green energy from Acton Lord briefly lighting the room, 
before it again plunged into darkness.
        "Bah. I have better things to take care off."
        There was the sound of walking, then a kind of whine. Peter 
caught the smell of something burning, then there was another flash of 
green power... then nothing but a lingering smell.
        Peter waited, his senses straining for any sound or movement, 
but there was nothing. Carefully, Peter moved across the room and picked 
up the torch.
        Returning to the spot where Acton Lord had been, Peter flashed 
the torch around, and saw something on the wall. Crossing over, he 
found a scorch mark on the wall, the approximate outline of Acton Lord. 
There was still wisps of smoke coming off the wall. Putting his hand out 
gingerly, Peter drew back hastily as his fingers felt the wall still 
        Well, it looked like Acton Lord was gone for now. Easy for some, 
not so easy for others. And somewhere in here was very probably Morph, 
somehow transformed by whatever it was Acton Lord did to people.
        This reminded him of the situation he had been in before Acton 
Lord turned up, only this time he had one more piece of information.
        "Morph? Can you hear me?" he called out. "Morph? ... Rick?"
        Nothing. Did he really expect an answer?
        _We have to try,_ Marsha replied. _He's the only chance we've 
got of getting out of here._
        _Oh, I don't think Acton Lord plans to leave us in here forever. 
Whatever he does have planned involves us, and I doubt it'll take place 
in here._
        _I don't know about that,_ Marsha returned. _There is a tomb 
here, after all. We never did see inside it. There might be nothing in 
it, with room for one._
        _Have I said recently how glad I am to be stuck here with you?_
        _No, not really._
        Peter didn't reply, which was enough of a reply in itself. He 
scanned the room for Morph, but still didn't see anything.
        _Is it really like that?_ Marsha asked, her mental voice subdued.
        _Like what?_
        _You really don't like being stuck with me, do you? That's how 
you see it, isn't it? *Stuck* with me._
        _Marsha, it's not like that,_ replied Peter.
        _Then how is it?_
        Peter sighed. _Well, it's not like we actually *choose* to be 
together. In other circumstances, we might not have been together like 
this._ [See _The Alt.Riders #2_ and _#3_ for that tale. - Footnote girl.]
        _And it's because of those other possibilities that you don't 
like being with me?_
        _It's not that I don't like being with you, but this isn't a 
normal sort of relationship. We can't really see either other, and yet 
we have this permanent mental connection. That is a rather... unnatural 
relationship,_ Peter pointed out.
        _You really don't like this, do you?_
        Again a silence, one that Peter felt as very uncomfortable.
        _What happened to us? We went through a lot together when we 
were separate. I thought there was something building between us, 
something that I thought would become stronger when we became united. Am 
I so wrong?_
        _Well... to be honest..._ Peter trailed off.
        _Yes, by all means, lets be honest._
        _Well, it's not exactly like you are my type, as it were._
        Peter sensed Marsha being mentally floored by that comment, and 
he winced. This really wasn't a conversation he wished was happening 
right now. In fact, he'd rather tried to avoid it when possible. But all 
of a sudden it had crept up on him.
        _Not your type._ Marsha's voice was frosty, to say the least. 
_What is your type?_
        _I don't really know,_ admitted Peter, suddenly seeing, 
fatalistically, what his next line was. _But when I pictured myself with 
a partner, I never pictured anyone like you._
        _So now I'm someone you don't even want to be pictured with._
        _It's not like that,_ Peter insisted. _That was then, now..._
        _Now... I don't know... I've never really thought about it._
        _Tell me something. Straight. Honestly. What are your feelings 
for me?_
        _I... I don't really have feelings..._
        _I see. I... you know..._ Peter could feel Marsha struggling for 
words, unsure of what to say, if she should say. _I love you!_
        All Peter could reply was _I know._
        There was silence in his head again. And then, after a very long 
pause, Marsha finally said _Perhaps I should try. Rick might respond to 
me better._
        _...all right..._
        Marsha slid down, with her back to the wall, the torch falling 
from her hand to clatter onto the floor. She cradled her head in her 
hands. And cried.
Barry opened his eyes in darkness. He blinked, but still nothing 
appeared. His mind went back over what had just happened. He had 
teleported, and then... oh gods, what if the transporter...?
        Suddenly, like a billboard sign, the following message appeared 
in the air before him:
        Barry gaped at the sign, then it disappeared. Something very 
strange was going on here, he could tell.
        Next came this:
        Barry frowned. There was something nagging at the back of his 
mind. A sense of familiarity.
        That sign also disappeared, and was replaced by:
        Well, at least this was personal. Someone out there was looking 
out for him. He wasn't sure if this was a good thing.
        Another message:
        And then it added
        I DON'T THINK.
        Yes. Something definitely familiar was happened. But from where? 
If his sense was working properly, next up should be some kind of threat.
        As if obeying his mental wish, the sign changed to:
        Ah, right, thought Barry. He waited a moment, and the sign added:
        Yes, that was it.
        "Hello, yes," said Barry into the darkness. "I don't mean to 
criticize, but I have read _Life, the Universe, and Everything_, and if 
we could just skip to the bit where you tell me what I've done to you 
and how you plan to torture me over it, I would appreciate it. I have 
somewhere else I'd rather be."
        "Don't we all."
        Bright light burst into Barry's eyes, making him squint. When 
his eyes adjusted, he found himself standing on a vast white plain. 
Turning slightly, he saw Allen standing before him, surrounded by some 
kind of white robots, although it was hard to make them out against the 
white background.
        "This isn't _Matrix_?" Barry asked.
        "Please, I have some sense of style," Allen replied. "_The Mind 
        "Oh. Yes. Of course. Sorry."
        "Anyway, if we could get on with it," Allen said, rolling his 
eyes. "I have come here to give you an important message," he intoned.
        "If you're still wanting me to kill you, I'm still going to have 
to say no," Barry interjected.
        "So you say now," Allen said. He suddenly grinned. Or, at least, 
bared his teeth. "Wait until you meet me before you make up your mind. I 
don't suggest you retire the jury just yet."
        "What are you talking about?"
        "There shall be a reckoning," Allen said. "Very soon. But right 
now I suggest you duck because Missy's about to shoot a hole in you."
        And then Barry was standing in the middle of the desert. Hearing 
a whine, he turned to see what looked like Missy aiming a laser pistol 
at him. Throwing himself to the ground, he barely managed to avoid the 
beam that flashed past overhead.
        "Hey! Stop that, I'm on your side!"
        Raising his head cautiously, Barry looked up to see Missy 
looking at him. At least, what looked like Missy. For some reason, she 
was green all over, including her clothes. Behind her was a green jeep, 
and behind that, reaching up into the sky, was a green pyramid. All the 
same green. Acton Lord green.
        Missy was holding a pistol, pointed directly at him, and her 
head was to one side, contemplating him. "Test: laser on human body," 
she announced, and fired again.
        "Net!" Barry yelled, his overall suit turning white. Using the 
power of lag, Barry easily ducked the laser bolt, and snatched the gun 
from Missy's grasp. Returning Missy to normal speed, he continued. "What 
happened to you?" Although the answer was pretty obvious, he had to 
admit to himself.
        Missy cocked her head the other way at him. "Subject exhibits 
effects not taken account. Must consider."
        "Missy, listen to me. You're under the spell of Acton Lord. It's 
me, Barry. The Net.Elementalist."
        "Query: net.elementals." Missy closed her eyes for a moment. 
"Flame, net, thread, keystroke. Possible net.element: time-index."
        "Er, yeah, that's right."
        "Query: limits of power?"
        "Er, not sure. Haven't really found out yet," replied Barry, not 
quite following Missy.
        "Query: can withstand explosion?"
        "Well, some, but-"
        "Test: nuclear detonation." Missy raised her now green hand, and 
pushed a button on a small remote.
        Barry froze. Whatever that meant, it could not be good. Sensing 
something warm in his hand, he looked down to see the gun he had taken. 
It was getting hotter.
        "Oh. Hell."
Marsha sat on the floor, crosslegged. Deliberately not thinking of 
Peter. "Rick? Are you there? It's me, Marsha. You remember me, don't 
you?" she called out. "Rick? Remember Marsha? And..." she nearly 
faltered, but she took a breath and continued. "And Peter, he's here 
too. Remember him? Rick? Are you there?"
        Marsha didn't really know what to do. How to reach him. How to 
get through to tell, to get him back on side. How to get Pete-*Rick*, 
how to get Rick to respond to her.
        "Remember the Alt.Riders, Rick? Remember Missy? She's outside, 
waiting for us. Don't you want to go to her? Let her know everything's 
all right? Come on, Rick, we can go out and tell Missy everything's 
fine. You and me, Rick. You and me..."
        ...and Peter. Marsha closed her eyes. She wasn't going to think 
about him. She wasn't. So far, he hadn't said anything to her since they 
changed over, but then he already said enough, hadn't he? He didn't want 
them to be together. Should never have been together. But they had 
already gone through so much. She had fallen...
        "Rick? Remember Barry? He'll be worried about you too. Remember 
Agent? You have to remember him. You can't forget him. No matter how 
much you try," she added. Just like she couldn't forget...
        "Agent," she said, forcefully. "You must know Agent, Rick. He's 
your..." She faltered again, but for a different reason. She could 
hardly believe she was saying this. "He's your father. You must remember 
your father, Rick. Everyone remembers their father." Unfortunately, she 
added to herself.
        "Or how about your mother, Rick. Do you remember your mother, 
Rick? The Queen Bee?" Marsha wasn't sure if that was worse than Agent. 
"You remember your mother, Rick? We helped her leave. You and me, Rick. 
You and me. Me, Marsha. Rick? Are you there, Rick?"
        Are you there, Peter? No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't 
stop that thought. She missed him, missed his presence. In many ways 
they were one and the same person, and yet now it was like he wasn't 
there. Had never been there. And as far as he was concerned, that's what 
he preferred.
        Damn him, anyway.
        "Rick? Are you there Rick? Talk to me, Rick. Let me know you're 
there. Okay, Rick? Rick? Okay, Rick, I'm going to stop talking now. You 
say something now, Rick. Let me know you're there. Okay, Rick? ...Rick?"
        Marsha fell silent. She couldn't really think of anything to say 
at the moment, anyway. What else could she say? What could ever be said 
to take back what already had been said?
        Marsha's heart stopped for a moment. Her mind whirled for a 
moment. What was this?
        _Marsha. I'm... sorry. I don't know what else to say, but... I 
        _Peter. I understand._ Marsha could feel the tears coming again, 
but held them back. This wasn't the time. _If you can't, then it's 
better that you tell me. Better if I know, rather than just me thinking 
        _I wish I did feel that way. This would have been better if only 
        _No. You should be you._ Marsha could hardly believe she was 
thinking this. Part of her wished she could grab him and shake him and 
kiss him and...
        _I've been thinking. We haven't ever really discussed it, but, 
maybe... we should be trying to find some way of splitting us back into 
        _We can't,_ Marsha replied. _There isn't enough body matter for 
the both of us._
        _But there must be some way we can do it. Perhaps Missy could 
come up with something. She's amazing with new technology._
        _Yes,_ replied Marsha distantly. He really wants this. He really 
wants to be himself again. That this never happened. Despite herself, 
she could feel a small tear trickling down her cheek.
        Marsha paused. _Wait._
        _But you-_
        _I think it's Rick._
        "Rick? Is that you?"
        "Marsha," said the voice again. It sort of sounded like Rick. 
"Marsha. Marsha Marsha Marsha."
        Then the giggling started.
Barry flew high into the atmosphere on a jet of flame, the gun red hot 
in his hands. Unfortunately, he couldn't leave the lower atmosphere 
without some kind of breathing apparatus, and he couldn't leave entirely 
without exploding from the pressure differential, but he had to get rid 
of the gun somehow.
        Perhaps he was going the wrong way about this.
        Barry stopped, paused, then turned and headed down. Straight 
down. And gathering as much speed as he could. The gun glowed white hot, 
the release imminent.
        With a fiery burst, Barry crashed into the ground, through the 
ground, borrowing as deep as he could, as fast as he could. Feeling he 
had gone as deep as he could, Barry dropped the gun, and headed up, 
melting the way closed behind him.
        He was still underground when the shock ran through him. He lost 
his flame for a moment, but gritted his teeth determinedly, and 
continued up. Breaching the surface, he gasped into the fresh air, and 
finally took stock of his position. He was close to where he had 
started, near the pyramid. He saw Missy, and made his way to her.
        But she wasn't alone. Even from this distance, he could make out 
another figure. In a blue outfit that he recognised. Acton Lord. This 
couldn't be good.
        They were both watching him as he touched down. Barry spared a 
brief glance for Missy, making sure she wasn't doing anything dangerous, 
then turned his full attention to Acton Lord.
        "Well," he said.
        Acton Lord curled a lip. "Well, yourself. Flashy entrances not 
withstanding, I can tell you're a real do-goody type of superhero."
        "I try."
        "I hate do-goody superheroes."
        "I'll try not to let that keep me awake at night."
        Acton Lord narrowed his eyes. "Do you have any idea of the power 
I have? Of the things I can do to you."
        Barry's eyes flickered to the pyramid, to Missy, then back to 
his opponent. "I have some idea."
        Acton Lord grinned. "Not really. You see, it's not really me 
doing this. I had a little help. I admit it."
        "From someone you know, in fact. Someone you left for dead." 
Barry frowned, and opened his mouth, but Acton Lord got in first. "Oh, 
not someone you killed. No, that was someone else, someone that we'll 
get onto soon enough. But you were there, and so you'll do to start with."
        "I really don't know what you're talking about." But a few 
suspicions were starting to come to him. A few clues clicking into place.
        "Oh, he was hurt. All his bones broken in fact. But something 
saved him. And now he's going to see a few debts repaid."
        A sound, what generously might be called a chuckle, made Barry 
look up, but he already knew what he would see. In the air hovered a 
figure in a black suit, with a stylised symbol of "No Questions" (a 
question mark in a crossed circle) on his chest. The face was one Barry 
knew intimately. He saw it whenever he looked at Allen. Whenever he 
looked in a mirror. Although there was something a little off about the 
figure's posture. As if all the bones had been broken, then pushed back 
into placed, but never healed, just held there.
        "Allow me to introduce," continued Acton Lord, "the new master 
of all, and my personal friend. Thanks to him, I have been able to 
achieve what I have done here. No mean achievement at all. Anyway, I 
give you, all the way from his own dimension, the new possessor of that 
dimension's Corruption Force after the Roster King died.
        "Say hello...and Faq Lord."
NEXT ISSUE: Faq Lord? Faq Lord?? FAQ LORD???
Acton Lord still belongs to Dvandom. The rest still belong to me.
Back to the Index.