________ ____ _ _____ _ _ ____ _ | | | | | | | | | | | | BLiP | | | | | | -|-- | | o | | | | |--| |--| |---| | | |--~ |--| |--| |--- ---- | #29 | | | | | | | | | | | \ | | | | | | |___ | | | | | |~~~ | | | | _ | | | | | |~~~ | | ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~ ~~~~ [The cover shows Drake standing on top of a globe, arms wide, embracing all.] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- "In God We Trust." The worst part was, she thought, was that there nothing physical to stop them. There didn't need to be, she added bitterly. None of them could even conceive of leaving the presence of their God, Drake. Not even her mother. Mouse sighed as she kept watch on the street below. Citizens of Got.ham city walked about on their daily business. Every once in a while she spotted a superhero, usually flying in the sky. Slowly, she formed her plans for escaping. Drake wanted them all near, and so they had temporarily moved into a nearby hotel, both the LNHers and the Alt.Riders, all of whom believed in Drake. In the main room of their apartment (and Mouse wasn't sure why her mother insisted they have a suite together when they had separate rooms in the LNHHQ), Writer's Block Woman was knitting a scarf as a gift for Drake, and singing to herself. Whilst her singing was bad (and, to be honest, it was terrible), her knitting was worse. Her mother wasn't the only block between Mouse and freedom. All of Drake's followers were ordered to stay in the city for now, while Drake gathered his strength to convert the rest of the world, so anyone Mouse met would have to be dealt with, less they give away that Mouse wasn't under his influence. Mouse wasn't completely surprised by this. By all signs, Drake converted people by speaking to them on a subconscious level, a subliminal level. And Mouse was too much a mistress of that kind of power to be taken in for long. Unfortunately, although Writer's Block Woman and Fuzzy both had mental powers, neither of them showed any sign of resistance. Mouse was all alone, and felt it. Which might give Mouse the edge she needed. She hadn't wanted to resort to this, but her options were running out. Both the "I'll just pop out for some pizza" and "Let's go shopping for some shoes" had failed (that the last one could not entice Writer's Block Woman to leave the room showed just how powerful a hold Drake had over her mother). Nor could she simply ring for help, as all out-going calls went through the reception desk, and no out-going calls were allowed. Taking a moment to calm herself, Mouse stepped out into the main room to face her mother. "Bye, mother, I'm just popping out for a moment," Mouse said cheerily, before continuing to mutter under her breath. "What for?" Writer's Block Woman asked, as the ball of wool she was working with rolled off the table yet again. "Well, you're knitting that scarf for Dr...God," Mouse hurriedly corrected. "I just wanted to go and get something for God myself." Writer's Block Woman jumped up, clapping her hands together. "Oh, that's a wonderful idea, but we can make something together. How about a macaroni picture? I wonder if we have any macaroni. Oh, I'm sure the front desk can send some up. Now, you look for some glue, and I'll get some card." Damn, it wasn't working. Mouse stepped up her concentration. "Mum, I have to go out. Now." She continued to mutter as she tried to influence her mother (let Mouse go out, let Mouse go out, let Mouse go out...) "Oh nonsense," Writer's Block Woman said. "God wanted us to stay here until he needed us, so here we stay!" she said, in a sing-song voice. Drake's influence was clearly more powerful than hers. Mouse really didn't have any options left. Except for one last ditch try she really didn't want to do. "You're right," Mouse conceded. "I think there is some card in that dresser there." "Really?" Writer's Block Woman opened the cabinet doors and peered inside. "There don't seem to be anything-" Writer's Block Woman's words cut out as the vase crashed down on her head. She slumped on the floor, unconscious. "I'm really sorry, mum," Mouse said, as she hauled Writer's Block Woman into her bedroom. "Really sorry. But if I don't get this sorted out, there'll be something even worse waiting for us." Mouse arranged Writer's Block Woman as comfortably as she could on the bed, and kissed her forehead. "I hope I'll see you soon." Outside the hotel room, Mouse headed for the lift. However, she then ran into the next problem. "What are you doing out here?" Dva challenged. "Don't you want to wait in your room?" "Er, no," Mouse said brightly. "I...uh...wanted to check in on God. See how he's doing. You know, bask in his presence." "He doesn't want to be disturbed," Dva replied. "You'll be called when he's ready." "How about some fresh air then?" Mouse tried. "Don't want to stay cooped up in a hotel room all day." Dva looked at Mouse intently. "You don't, do you?" Something in that made Mouse look at Dva intently in return. Was there something...? Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound. And there was another vase nearby if need be. "No. I want to leave," Mouse replied bluntly. "Leave the presence of God?" Dva returned. "Yes," Mouse replied, looking straight into Dva's eyes. "I want to leave the presence of Drake." Dva's shoulders slumped. "Thank goodness. I was hoping that someone else would be unaffected too." Mouse looked around quickly, but there was no-one else around. "You don't believe in Drake? I thought all the Alt.Riders did. Hell, you were the one who converted me. For a while," Mouse amended. "Sort of," Dva replied. "Peter is converted. I'm not." Mouse considered this for a moment. "Marsha?" "Yes." Okay, Mouse thought. This was more than a little odd. Dva looked like Peter still, but did speak like Marsha. And, come to think of it, stood like Marsha. And that gave her thoughts that Mouse didn't want to continue thinking. "So why haven't you left?" Mouse asked. "And how can you be in control now when you weren't before?" "Come on," said Dva, pushing the button for the lift. "We'd better get out of here before we're discovered." When the lift arrived, Mouse and Dva boarded, and Dva pushed the button for the basement. When the lift doors closed, Dva continued. "Before Peter had orders to convert you, so I couldn't do anything. Now, he's on a kind of neutral, so I can be in charge. As for why I'm still here... to be honest, I can't think of a plan to help," she...he...Dva admitted. "If Drake can convert the LNH, who can stop him? What if he converted someone like Kid Kirby?" "Yeah, that is a problem," Mouse replied. "But I can think of someone to contact who might be able to help. Might take a little convincing though," she added. "First things first, we've got to get out of here. If we can somehow make it to the airport, we can escape in one of the flight.thingees, but I expect they'll be well guarded." The lift arrived at the basement, and they emerged cautiously. Luckily it was deserted, bar the guest cars. Mouse thought about their options. "Can you access Peter's powers?" she asked. "If we can move silently, that'll make travel easier." Dva shook her...his...whatever head. "Although our powers do depend on whose body we are at the moment," Dva said, making Mouse's head spin as she tried to work that sentence out. "I'm barely able to control simple functions and keep Peter's mind quiet. I can't use his powers as well." "Okay," said Mouse, peering into the cars around them. "Well, that doesn't matter too much. All we really need is a method of communication." "And?" "And someone who wasn't too careful about securing their car phone." It took them a few tries, and a close call with a car alarm, before they managed to find a stupidly trusting car owner. Mouse hesitated for a few moments, trying to remember the number, then dialed. "Hello dad," she said in her sweetest voice. "Yes, of course it's me. Do you have anyone else who calls you 'dad'? On second thoughts, don't answer that. Dad, listen to me." Mouse paused to take a breath. Today was not a good day for her and her parents. "Dad, we're in trouble, and we need your help." _-~-_ Half an hour later, Mouse replaced the phone and looked at Dva. "Do you think that will work?" she asked. Dva shrugged. "It might. Depends on how good they are." "Dad would only hire the best," Mouse pointed out. "Drake did take out the LNH," Dva reminded her. "Well, to be honest, the only reason we were picked was because we were nearby and didn't get out of the way quickly enough," Mouse confessed. "I'm not saying we don't have our powerful members, but I wouldn't necessarily say that they were on the team here with us." Dva nodded. "Still, we'll need more support if we want to stand any chance of success. Do you think Writer's Block Woman or Fuzzy could help? If you could break free of Drake's hold, maybe they could too." Mouse winced as she thought of her mother. "Er, no. Not the best idea," Mouse replied. "Is there anyone on your team you think might be suitable?" Dva considered this. "I am surprised Agent was converted. I'm not even sure he is human, let alone susceptible to mind powers." "Let's try him then." "Mouse, if he is really under Drake's power, and we can't break that hold..." "You said yourself, we need more people. If he's our best bet, let's go for it." _-~-_ At the knock, Agent looked up from the poem he was constructing, which expressed him feelings about how wonderful it was to be with God. Going over and opening the door, he found two people waiting for him. "Hello Dva. And..." Agent hesitated. "Mouse," Mouse supplied forcefully, before smiling. "We want to talk to about about God." "Can we come in?" Dva asked. "Certainly," Agent replied, smiling back at them. "Please, join me. I was just wondering how best to express myself about him." "Thought about knitting a scarf?" Mouse offered. "Now, that's an idea," Agent mused. Dva gave Mouse a momentary glare. "Yes, God," Dva continued, once they were inside and the door was closed. "God is wonderful, isn't he?" Agent nodded. "Do you remember what it was like before you found out about God?" Agent shuddered. "Please, I don't want to think about that. All that time, not being with him, not worshiping him." Mouse whispered to Dva "You sure about this?" Dva silenced her with a foot nudge. "Remember how we used to fight villains?" Dva said. "Frank Bennington. Karmic Death. Faq Lord." "Hey, you know of Bennington too?" Mouse asked, but Dva ignored her. [Mouse had an unfortunate run in with Bennington in _Writer's Block Woman and Mouse #38_ - Footnote Girl] Agent nodded. "Yes. But think of how we will all live in peace once God shows them the error of their ways." "Do you remember Drake? When we first met him, he was Mandrake, and then he tried to destroy the planet. But we managed to stop him." "Drake?" A look of confusion stole over Agent's face. "I..." "Drake," Dva pushed. "He had the power to influence people's thinking. Just imagine what he might do if he came across diamonds that could enhance that power of his." "He...Drake..." "Why, he might even make you believe he was God." "No!" Agent shouted, standing up. "God is God. Your talk is blasphemous. I shall tell God about you!" Mouse was caught by surprised as Dva launched from the chair and crashed into Agent, knocking him to the floor. Sitting on Agent's chest, Dva hissed, "You are Agent. Of the Alt.Riders. You are the meanest, nastiest, son-of-a-bitch bastard on this whole damn planet!" Dva slammed Agent's head into the floor, reinforcing the words. "You take crap from no-one, and you do not believe that some two-bit villain arsehole is a God!" Dva slammed Agent's head into the floor one last time, then stood up. "Well, how quickly do you think he will kill us?" Mouse asked. Agent jumped up, knocking Dva to the side. Rage in his eyes, Agent grabbed Dva around the throat and started throttling. "You never, never, ever, ever, talk that way to me again," he hissed through clenched teeth. "And...Drake..." Dva managed to force out, face now turning red. Agent froze. Then suddenly released Dva, and stood back, eyes focussed on something far away. He blinked once, then looked at Dva (who was still choking, trying to get a breath), and over to Mouse (holding her breath). "Right," he finally said. "I'm going to find that bastard. And then kill him," he said, in a deceptively calm voice. "Wait," replied Mouse, as Agent started to move towards the door. "We've got a plan to take care of Drake. But we'll need some more help yet." _-~-_ Wind whipped around the three of them as they exited onto the roof. Agent ignored it, but Dva and Mouse could feel a chill biting. "Is this a good idea?" Mouse asked. "We want power," Dva replied, over the wind. "He's got a lot." "There," Agent pointed. "We just need to attract his attention." Mouse and Dva looked up, to see a figure in white streaking by. "Any ideas?" Mouse asked. Dva shrugged. "Maybe some kind of flare gun?" "Way ahead of you," Agent replied, extracting a flare gun from his jacket. "I grabbed this on the way." He stood still for a moment, taking in his environment, then turned and fired the gun. The flare shot out, trailing smoke, racing through the air. "Uh, Agent," Mouse said. "He's over that way." She pointed off to the left of where the flare was heading. Agent looked at Mouse. "Trust me," he said, but Mouse didn't give any indication of doing that. A gust of wind struck them, and also the flare. Turning it almost 90 degrees, it flew straight into the path of the Net.Elementalist, striking him in the body. "Lucky shot," Mouse muttered. The Net.Elementalist traced the smoke back through the air, and ended on the roof, landing next to them. "Hey guys, what's up? Is God wanting us?" "Do you remember our past battles?" Dva asked, but got no further as Agent held up a hand. "Not this time," he said, then walked forwards. His hand shot out, and he lifted the Net.Elementalist up by his throat. "You are the Net.Elementalist," Agent said, his eyes burning into the Net.Elementalist's. "You control Flame, Net, Thread and Keystroke. You are a powder keg of fury, barely constrained, and you are now the puppy of a man who is pretending to be a god. You are pathetic. You are nothing." The Net.Elementalist struggled in Agent's grip, then exploded in fire. Agent was forced to let go as his hand started to burn. "I bow to no-one!" the Net.Elementalist shouted. "And I'll kill the first person who tries to make me, including you!" "You guys have some serious anger management issues," Mouse muttered to Dva. "And we're great fun at parties," Dva added. The flames died out, leaving the Net.Elementalist standing in black. "Do we kill him now?" "Not yet," Agent replied, before turning to Mouse and Dva. "Let's move on. Morph should be our next pick." Mouse looked at her watch. "No time," she said. "The plane should be here any moment." "Plane?" the Net.Elementalist inquired. "Are we going to drop a bomb on him?" "We are in the middle of a city," Mouse pointed out. "We don't need to kill everyone just to deal with Drake." "Sounds like the easiest way to me," the Net.Elementalist returned. Mouse gave the Net.Elementalist a worried look, but continued. "We've got an incursion team coming in. A surgical strike." "And what makes you think Drake won't convert them?" "They've got mystical armour. Hopefully that'll hold out for them to get close enough." "Really?" Agent asked. "Where from?" "Never mind that," Mouse said, not wanting to get into the business practices of the Conspiracy Corporation. "But they won't get far without support. I'm sure the other LNHers will be able to stop them. Unless we can stop the LNHers first." Mouse scanned the sky, and saw a far-off moving dot. "There's the plane, right on schedule." Turning to the Net.Elementalist she said "Can you make sure it has a clear run in?" "Not a problem," the Net.Elementalist growled. His outfit turned white as he took to the air. "Right," said Mouse. "Now all we need to do is take out the LNH first." _-~-_ The commandos in the plane waited, throwing occasional glances at the specialist that was with them. This wasn't their first incursion, but any means, but this was the first time they had a specialist along. "One minute!" They checked their gear for a final time, and made sure the one-shot anti-grav.thingees were well strapped to their backs. Falling through the air was no time to find out the straps had given out on the parachute. "HALT, IN THE NAME OF GOD!" One of the commandos glanced out a window, but shook her head. Nothing they could see, but they could easily hear. "YOU MUST COME AT ONCE, AND GOD SHALL ACCEPT-" The voice cut off. The commando looked out the window again, and this time could see two bodies plummeting for the ground. She gave a thumbs up, the all clear sign. "Thirty seconds!" The back hatch of the plane opened up, letting wind race around the inside. Moving carefully, they took their positions. "First, go! Second, go! Third, go!" Quickly, they launched themselves into the air. Intel specified the theatre as the likely location to hit first, and their head-up displays targeted that building, feeding them vectoring updates as they angled themselves through the air. A moment later, the anti-grav.thingees kicked in, slowing their descent, and giving them more control over their flight. One by one, they touched down on the roof of the theatre, dropped the packs from their backs, and headed for the roof access. Inside, they activated their image enhancers, and the blackness inside lit up like it was day. Swiftly they moved through the upper rooms, searching in pairs, making sure the area was clear before moving down. "Down," the specialist said. "He's down." Taking the stairs, they descended a floor, but the specialist didn't enter the next level. "Down. Way down." The commandos looked at each other, taking a quick silent vote. They all nodded in agreement, then followed the specialist as he headed towards the basement. "Hey, who are you? You're not supposed to be here!" They recognized the figure of Retcon Lad, but didn't pause as two darts hit him in the chest, center mass. They stepped over the now unconscious body, and continued down. The next person they encountered was Fuzzy, then Missy of the Alt.Riders, but the tranquilizer darts took care of them too (although Fuzzy proved tricky to target on). When they reached the stage level, the specialist paused. "He's...not sure." Quickly the commandos fanned out. Two stayed by the stairs, covering up and down, while the rest entered the main level, checking for people as they entered. Backstage, they came across Mouse and Agent, who quickly raised their hands as they saw the commandos enter. "Wait," the specialist ordered, and the commandos froze just short of pulling the triggers. Mouse looked at the range of guns pointing at her. "Thanks." "They're on our side," the specialist said, reaching up to pull off his helmet. "Don't worry," he said to them as he revealed his face. "We're the team your father sent in." "Allen?" Mouse said, unable to believe her eyes. "You work for my father?" Allen Knewbee, aka Faq Boy, shrugged. "Knowledge is power. The Conspiracy Corporation has a lot of both." "Sir, we need to keep moving," one of the commandos said. "Right." To Mouse and Agent, Allen said "Do you know where Drake is? I can tell there's a lot of power here, but can't quite work out where it is." "We only just got in," Mouse replied. "We barely managed to get past Limp-Asparagus Lad, so haven't had time to look around." "Oh, Mouse, how could you?" Only two people could speak in that sad tone of voice to Mouse, and she was damn sure her father wouldn't risk himself in this situation. "Mother," she said, turning around. "Listen to me." Tranquilizer darts shot pass her, but impacted harmlessly on a transparent wall. "Not this time," Morph said from a mouth in the wall. "You've turned from God." "Mouse," said Writer's Block Woman. "We could have talked. There was no need to hit me like that. I could have helped you." "You are under the influence of some weird guy with mental powers," Mouse said quickly. "You're not thinking straight. If you just leave this to me-" "It's too late for that," Writer's Block Woman replied. Ultimate Ninja and Fearless Leader appeared behind the commandos. More darts were fired, but the ninja deflected them with his sword (which was extremely impressive as he only had one hand to use the sword with [the other having been removed during a fight in _Vel #-1_ - Footnote Girl]). "God would like a word with you." _-~-_ They were filed out onto the stage, the commandos stripped of their guns and helmets. Drake was waiting for them, a disapproving look on his face. "My, how you've disappointed me." "Go to hell," Mouse said. "Now, now, there's no call for that sort of language," Drake said. "Fortunately, I can find it within me to forgive you all." "As the girl said," Agent put in. "Go to hell." "Hey!" said Mouse. "Enough of this. It doesn't matter," Drake said. "For soon, everyone will be believing in me, as they all should. Even you once again shall join my flock." "And then we'll be together," Fearless Leader said. "All united under one God," Ultimate Ninja added. "Families together again," Writer's Block Woman said, looking fondly at Mouse. A scream from off stage made them all turn to see Dva lunging out from the wings, heading straight for Drake. Morph quickly shot out a tentacle to block the path, and Allen took advantage of the distraction to pull out a reserve gun. He aimed it at Drake as Morph took care of Dva, and was about to pull the trigger when his view was blocked. As Morph made sure Dva was confined, the others could now see the tableau, Allen pointing a gun at Drake's head, and Writer's Block Woman standing in the path. Allen stared at Writer's Block Woman, his finger flexing on the trigger, but stopping short of the final pressure each time. "Kill me if you must," Writer's Block Woman said, standing proud. "But I will not let you attack my God." "Mother, he's not a god. Please," Mouse pleaded with her. "Listen to me. Trust me. Step away from him, and we will prove it." Writer's Block Woman looked at Mouse. "My poor darling," she said sadly. "But you can rejoin us once again." "Well, what will it be?" Drake asked Allen. "Will you pull the trigger? Will you take an innocent life? Or will you bow to your God?" Allen glared at Drake, but said nothing. Releasing his hold on the gun, he let it dangle from a finger. Fearless Leader stepped forwards, and took it from him. "Believe in him," Fearless Leader told Allen. "He will save us all." Allen turned his glare on Fearless Leader, and continued to say nothing. "Leave him alone," Drake ordered. "Soon enough he will worship me. I am ready for the final act that will secure my hold over the world." Commissioner Hamilton and Chief Repp came out from the wings, pushing a trolley. On it was a covered item that struck cords of memory in the minds of those on the stage. Drake reached over and removed the sheet, once again revealing the Burgenstock diamond. "With this," he whispered, staring adoringly at the diamond. "The world will be mine." "No it won't," Agent finally spoke. "You are no God, and your hold will never be complete. Wherever you go, there will be people who know the truth, that you are just a pathetic man, with delusions of grandeur. There is no act you can do that will sway everyone. Humanity will never be so easily defeated." "You are wrong," Drake said. "And your words have no power now. It is over." Reverently, Drake reached out and placed his hands on the diamond. The ceiling of the theatre exploded inwards as something crashed through it. Streams of flame lashed out, setting fire to whatever it touched. A figure in red landed on the seats in front of the stage, fire burning around him. "Never could make a subtle entrance," Allen murmured. "Drake," the Net.Elementalist spat. "I've got you now." Drake didn't remove his hands from the diamond. "No," Drake said calmly. "It's all over." The diamond glowed brightly under his touch. "You're damn right about that." The Net.Elementalist's costume became blue as he concentrated. With a flash, there was suddenly a very, very large bomb sitting in the middle of the theatre. "A gift for God," the Net.Elementalist said. "Courtesy of alt.tv.dionsaurs.barney.die.die.die." "No!" Mouse yelled. "There are people here!" "Don't care," the Net.Elementalist replied. He looked down suddenly as a dart entered his chest. "What the fu-?" He collapsed forward. Darts also entered the chests of the other people still under Drake's power. As they fell, Speeed blurred to a stop, holding one of the commandos guns. Dva pulled free from under the now unconscious Morph. "I managed to get a little more help," Dva explained. Drake was still powering the diamond, but was also looking at the bomb in horror. Everyone could see an outrageously large time display on it, and it didn't have much left. "No!" Drake shouted. "Not now!" "Can anyone stop that?" Mouse asked. Fade walked out from inside the bomb. He shook his head. "There's nothing we can do," he said, his accent making the last word 'de-ew'. "Okay people, we're bugging out," Allen ordered. "Grab and go." Instantly the commandos leapt into action, some grabbing the unconscious bodies, others disappearing to pick up the ones they had hit earlier on the way in. "You can't leave this!" Mouse said, waving a hand at the bomb. "You can't leave your God to die!" Drake shouted. "We can and will," replied Allen, taking the gun from Speeed. He pointed it at Mouse. "Don't make me." "We'll make sure Drake doesn't go anywhere," Speeed said, Fade joining him. "Get out of here." "We're gone," Allen replied, he and Agent picking up Mouse between them and dragging her from the theatre. The last image Mouse saw before leaving was Drake bathed in light from the diamond, Speeed and Fade standing guard, and the bomb's last minute ticking away. The explosion wiped out the theatre but left everything else alone. No-one was quite sure if that's what the Net.Elementalist intended. All that could be found in the rubble was the Burgenstock diamond, barely scratched. There were no signs of any bodies. _-~-_ Back in Sin.ci.net.ty, the Alt.Riders exhaustedly entered their headquarters. With Drake's hold gone the citizens of Got.ham city had returned to normal. And had all but thrown the superheroes out, declaring that any superheroes found within city limits would be executed, and then asked to leave. "Do you think Speeed and Fade got away safely?" Marsha asked, as they climbed the stairs. "One of them is faster than anyone I've ever seen," Agent replied. "The other can make himself insubstantial. I doubt they are gone." "And Drake?" the Net.Elementalist asked. Agent was silent for a moment. "I can't bring myself to say he's gone for good, however much I want to." "Probably wise," Rick put in, still woozy from the drug. As they entered the cafeteria, ready to drop, they met the pacing figure of Captain Cleanup. "I'm glad you've finally returned," he said, moving over to them quickly. "Why?" asked Marsha. "What happened? "Alice rang," Captain Cleanup replied. "Barry's dying." -------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEXT ISSUE: Barry's dying? What of the Net.Elementalist? Is a major character about to die in the Alt.Riders? CREDITS: Same as last issue. NOTES: When I started this, back in _Captain Everything #1_, all I had was that someone had contracted Speeed to steal diamonds. It wasn't until _The Alt.Riders #24_ that I realized it was Drake. I wanted to bring him back, and with him a) having power to influence others, and b) insane from the events in _The Alt.Riders Year 2000 Special_, this gave me the idea that Drake was making people believe he was God. (Although, apart from doing so in #24 to keep the secret, I decided to never refer to Drake as God in anything other than dialogue.) From then, I knew I had to come back to Got.ham city, but it wasn't until after #24 was finished that I worked out that this arc would be a four parter, although each issue didn't happen exactly as I thought it might...Back to the Index.