________ ____ _ _____ _ _ ____ _ | | | | | | | | | | | | BLiP | | | | | | -|-- | | o | | | | |--| |--| |---| | | |--~ |--| |--| |--- ---- | #35 | | | | | | | | | | | \ | | | | | | |___ | | | | | |~~~ | | | | _ | | | | | |~~~ | | ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~ ~~~~ [The cover is completely washed out by a dark blue, leaving nothing, not even the banner, visible.] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- "A Moment of Blue" PREVIOUSLY ON THE ALT.RIDERS: Dva took a fighting stance. "You shall not pass!" The energy beam smashed a path through, sending Dva flying through the air... Agent aimed his gun. "Rick, don't make me do this!" Agent fired, tears running down his face with every shot... "Cower mortals, for this is the reign of Disco!" Flipside cackled madly as the Alt.Riders got down and boogied... The Net.Elementalist rose on a column of fire, power bursting from his hands to incinerate all around him. "I have become Death, destroyer of worlds!" Beneath him, the entire world burned... Marsha looked at Missy, shock evident on her face. "You're pregnant...?" AND NOW: Barry looked around cautiously. "Did any of that actually happen?" he asked. Rick shook his head. "Nope. Well, just that last part." Rotanna sighed. "I see your Writer is just as bad as ours." "What are you people talking about?" asked Marsha. "Never mind," Barry said. "Just remember that we are in the Alt.Riders cafeteria, and Rotanna has just arrived to tell us that one of us has been infected by a parasite that invaded this world via the dreamlands. On top of which, Missy announces she's pregnant, which indicates that she's the one who has been infected." [This is, of course, how _The Alt.Riders #34_ ended - Footnote Girl] "I know that," replied Marsha. "It only happened a second ago." "Ah, yes, of course, please forget I said anything," Barry said. "I'm trying to as we speak," Marsha returned, before focusing back on Missy. "You're pregnant? How long?" "About nine months ago," Missy replied. "What? You're due? Any idea when?" Missy blinked. "Due? Not for three more months or so." "Eh?" "Alien biology," Agent interrupted. "A one year gestation period. Well, learn something new every day." "Except," Rotanna said, speaking with emphasis, "that it's a parasite that invaded this world and must be accordingly dealt with." "Which means what exactly?" Rick asked. "To be...extracted, and removed from this dimension," Rotanna replied. Missy frowned. "Do you mean...kill?" Rotanna drew a breath. "If necessary, yes, but that would be the second option." "I not want my child dead," Missy said. "I don't think it is your child," Agent said. "Not if Rotanna is correct." "And I am," Rotanna said quickly. Agent looked over to her. "How do you want to proceed?" "I-" Before Rotanna could say anything, black suited men burst into the room, quickly fanning out to surround them all. "*I* have immediate cease and desist papers," a voice said. "No action will be taken unless under our guidance, and we have strict instructions on this matter." "Oh no," said Barry, burying his face in his hands. "It's nice to see you too," came the reply, as the owner of the voice stepped into the room. Allen Knewbee, a.k.a. Faq Boy, handed Rotanna a piece of paper. "Please, my dear, just back off and leave this to us." Rotanna's face darkened. "What does any of this have to do with you? This is Dreamland business, of which I am the ruler here." "But this is no longer the Dreamland, and as such, no longer your domain. You'll find all our papers in order, and you are welcome to lodge any formal process with our offices." Snapping his fingers, the black suited figures converged on Missy. "Stay away from her!" Rick yelled, reaching out with elongating arms to slap the men away. "Don't touch them!" Agent yelled in reply, causing Rick to immediately jerk away from the men, and causing Marsha and Barry to freeze as they started to rise. "Those are anti-harassment suits, touch them and you'll be in prison deeper than even a President's Pardon could free you from." Missy only showed confusion as the men hauled her to her feet, and then began to lead her away. "I no want to go." "You don't have a choice," Allen said. "We require you for studying, and have all the legal papers for doing so." Rotanna was scanning the papers. "This is just a preliminary holding order," she said. "You can't keep Missy with this." "For now," Allen replied. "But give us a day, and then we'll have Missy owned, lock, stock and barrel." As the black suited men filed out, Allen retrieved a final piece of paper, and slapped it on the cafeteria door. "Don't try to follow us," he said. "Not that you could do so." Then he turned and left. "The hell was that about?" Marsha asked. Rick walked towards the door, but slowed and stopped. "Eh? Why can't I follow them?" "That's a restraining order," Agent said, pointing to the paper on the door. "Blocks anyone from coming within a certain distance of them. Once they're out of the area, we'll be fine." "Lawyers," Rotanna spat. "They've got no right." Agent sighed. "Unfortunately, right has nothing to do with it. They have legality, which is more powerful." "So we stop them, right? Get Missy back?" Rick said. "It's not that easy, but there are options," Agent said. Turning to Rotanna he asked, "Does this parasite have a time limit we can get rid of it in?" Rotanna nodded. "Yes, but I'm not sure we need to worry just yet. Now I know how it's trying to get in, and through who, I can sort out properly how to remove it. Any time before Missy gives birth and we'll be fine. Although I am worried about the fact that Missy thinks of it as her child..." "Is the parasite dangerous?" Rick asked. "Possibly," Rotanna said. "Until I can run proper scans over it, I won't know for sure, but by the method of its intrusion, it's unlikely to be beneficial." Rotanna started for the door. "You get Missy back, and I'll set up the final pieces of equipment." However, before she could leave, she stopped. "Damn, that thing's still in effect," she said, waving at the restraining order. "Care for a cup of coffee?" Agent offered. _-~-_ The limousine raced through the streets of Sin.ci.net.ty, quickly reaching the edge of the city, then out beyond. Inside, Allen sipped at a long flute of champagne, barely acknowledging the creature beside him. As he settled in for the long drive, he tried to remember why the jet wasn't available. "Where we go?" Missy asked. "It would be better if you didn't ask questions," Allen replied, still not looking at her. "I ask questions," Missy said simply. Allen turned to offer her a quick smile, not at all comforting. "I'm sure you do. But not now." "Is it about my child?" Allen sighed. "Yes. But it isn't your child. It's ours." Missy frowned. "It mine." "Not once we've finished, it won't be." "Why you want?" "Our mystical scans picked up on your presence. Unfortunately, while you were in prison we couldn't get to you. Now however..." "I won't let you." The last was said quietly, but it got Allen's attention. "And what do you think you can do to stop us?" "Not me." The last thing Allen remembered was 'blue'. _-~-_ "So, can we track them?" Agent asked. Rotanna had finally been able to leave (after declining Agent's coffee), and now they turned their attention to finding Missy. "Well, we know Allen works for the Conspiracy Corporation now," Rick said [Established in _The Alt.Riders #29_ - Footnote Girl]. "So presumably we could just contact them." "I hardly think they're likely to be forthcoming," Marsha said. "They're about as publicly open as Queen Enterprises was." "It's not like she has a tracking device planted in her," said Agent, before staring into space. "We are not having sub-dermal implants!" Marsha said quickly. "Fine, fine, just a thought," Agent said. "Maybe we can get some satellite to scan for alien life signs." "Or a mystic detector," Barry said after a moment. "Huh?" "When we were in Net.York," he said slowly. "We took a mystic scan to see what we could find. And Missy showed up on it." "A mystical pregnancy? That's can't be good," said Rick. "It's not like it's the baby of two vampires or anything," Barry said, drawing blank looks. "Okay, blame Joe for that. Anyway, the point is, although she has become a mystic hotspot, I doubt it's that much of a problem, and it gives us a way to track her." "Right," Agent said decisively. "You and Rick get on that. You can fly after her." "And us?" Marsha asked. "I think it's time you called upon your mother," said Agent, to Marsha's obvious puzzlement. _-~-_ The Net.Elementalist flew through the air, shaking the device he held in his hand, trying to ignore the cape fluttering off his back. "This doesn't seem to be working any better." "Still no distinct reading?" the cape asked. "Not yet, but that's impos..." Distracted by something, the Net.Elementalist drew to a halt in the air, lagging his fall to a crawl. "I think we should check that out first." "What?" asked the cape, otherwise known as Morph. "Remember, I don't have eyes like this." "There's some kind of crater down there, on the outskirts of town," the Net.Elementalist replied. "I think it might be related." "Really?" said Morph. "Anything about it in particular?" "It's blue." Descending through the air, the Net.Elementalist was about to make out more details. The crater was only a few car lengths in diameter, and there was a car, a limousine, in the middle of it. And the crater, the dirt and the car, was, as he had seen, blue. He wasn't sure if it was paint or something else. In some ways, he hoped it wasn't something else, as the other 'something else' ideas he had weren't nice ones. Touching down, Morph leapt off the Net.Elementalist's back to land in his normal form beside him. "Any signs of life?" The Net.Elementalist shrugged. "Only just got here." Raising the device in his hand, he took a sweep of the area. "Low level residual mysticism here. But not the source." "You think Missy did this?" "Let's find out, shall we?" Walking to the door of the limo, the Net.Elementalist tapped on the window, but got no reaction. "Flame." Tracing his finger in a circle, the Net.Elementalist melted a section of the window out of the way. Inside the car was normal, in that it wasn't blue, but there was clearly something wrong as the one occupant was unconscious. Recognizing Allen, the Net.Elementalist snapped "Check the driver," before melting away more of the door. Eventually the door was clear enough to allow the Net.Elementalist inside. "Allen. Allen, are you all right?" The Net.Elementalist reached out to his dimensional twin, but drew back. If something had happened, moving him might make it worse. However, Allen started stirring at the Net.Elementalist's voice, so the Net.Elementalist decided it was safe to help him sit up properly. "Allen, what happened?" Allen placed the palm of his hand against his forehead. "She did this." "Missy? What!? How?" "The being inside her. It's starting soon." "No, we've got a few months yet." "It's nearly finished binding itself to this plane of existence," Allen said. "Once that is done, it'll be too late." "That's what we've been trying to do," the Net.Elementalist replied. "That's why Rotanna was there. To help get rid of this thing." "You've got to find her, Barry. Find her and stop her, while you can." "We're trying to. We're having problems tracking her." Allen grimaced. "Well, I'm sure you'll do your best." He waved the Net.Elementalist away. "Get on after her. I'll be fine." "So will the driver," Morph said, startling the Net.Elementalist. He hadn't heard Morph join them. "Go after her. Find her," Allen said. The Net.Elementalist nodded, and stepped out of the car. Morph returned to his position draped over the Net.Elementalist's shoulders. A moment later, they were gone. "Yes, go find her," Allen repeated. "For us." _-~-_ "I definitely do not see this as a good idea," Marsha said, pulling at the cuff of her white shirt in an attempt to straighten an already perfectly straight sleeve. "It's a brilliant idea," replied Agent, who was still in his normal everyday casual clothes. "How else should we fight lawyers, except with other lawyers." "Our family lawyers," hissed Marsha, glancing around the pristine white waiting room, taking in the tastefully artful decorations (which included the extremely fit and somewhat vapid receptionist), "are hardly in the same league as that kind we're dealing with." "I thought the Burgenstock name pulled a lot of weight." "Not really in the corporate world. If there was a country club you wanted into, then I can help." "Well, in that case-" The receptionist interrupted them at that point. "Mr. Marshall will see you now," he said. "Just down the hall, first on the right." Marsha stood, gave the receptionist a tight smile, briefly checked to make sure her skirt was fine, then set out for the office, Agent following her. "What's Mr. Marshall like?" Agent asked. Marsha shrugged as she walked. "No idea. Never met our lawyers before." Whatever Marsha was expecting, it wasn't the figure behind the desk who stood to greet them. Mr. Marshall held out his hand, teeth grinning, but Marsha didn't take it nor offer a smile of her own. Mr. Marshall's attitude faltered, but he quickly recovered. "Please, take a seat," he offered, retreating behind his desk. "It's not often we have the daughter of one of our finest clients come to visit us." Marsha sat, stiffly, watching Mr. Marshall carefully. As Agent sat down in a chair next to her, he gave her a sharp look. "Pull yourself together," he hissed just loud enough for only Marsha to hear. If Marsha was one to growl, she would have done so now. She took in Mr. Marshall, with his large physique and perfect form that spoke of hours spent in a gym, as opposed to a golf course. She took in his carefully pressed suits and equally carefully clipped nails. Most of all, she took in his dark skin, and felt the rage inside her burn. "What can I do for you today?" Mr. Marshall asked. "Don't try to suck up to me," Marsha snarled. Mr. Marshall opened and closed his mouth, clearly not expecting this reaction, and looked to Agent for help. "What I think Ms Burgenstock is trying to ask for," Agent said, glaring at Marsha, "is for legal help in securing the rights of a friend." Aside from nervous glances at Marsha, Mr. Marshall tried to keep focused on Agent. "And who is this friend? An illegal alien?" "Something like that," said Agent. "Very much an alien. 'Illegal' is a somewhat tricker concept." "Well, let us worry about that part of it," Mr. Marshall said, letting slip a smile. "You cocky little shit," Marsha spat. Agent spun to Marsha, ignoring Mr. Marshall's shocked expression. "Would you like to take this outside?" he hissed at her quietly. "I'm not scared of him," Marsha whispered back, vehemence in her voice. "No-one said you were," Agent replied, not quite sure where this conversation was going. "But you're not helping." Marsha turned the full force of her anger onto Agent. "I don't care," she enunciated. Agent saw the anger, but didn't rise to it. "Send Peter in," he said. "I-" "That is an order," Agent said firmly. Marsha stood, didn't look at Mr. Marshall, and strode out the door. "Is there something I-?" Mr. Marshall started to ask, but stopped as Agent held up his hand. A moment later, footsteps announced another entrance, but this one was of a man in a blue suit with soundwave piping. He took the seat Marsha had been in, and gestured for Agent to continue. "Right," said Agent, turning back to Mr. Marshall and acting like nothing had happened. "Now, our friend is an actual alien." "From Mex.ico? Eur.io.pea?" "From another planet." Mr. Marshall looked back and forth from Agent to Peter. "Now, please excuse me if I'm a bit slow on the uptake here." He gestured to Peter. "I can see this is superhero business, and that there is something odd going on here, but is this really about someone from another planet?" "Yes," replied Agent. "And she's been kidnapped by the Conspiracy Corporation. We want you to help us get her back." "The...the Consp...the Conspiracy Corporation?" Mr. Marshall finally got out. "Is there a problem?" Agent asked mildly. "Now...we...the Conspiracy Corporation...we can't..." "I think we can. In fact, I insist on it." "But-" "Quiet." Mr. Marshall's mouth continued to flap but nothing came out. Much to his surprise. "Thank you," Agent nodded at Peter before turning back to Mr. Marshall. "You are a lawyer. You have connections. And you have a lot of money backing you. Will there be a problem?" Agent asked. "Just shake your head." Mr. Marshall quickly shook his head. "Right, then let's talk," Agent said, before leaning forward and grinning unpleasantly. "Before I asked Marsha to come back in..." _-~-_ Missy looked up from the book she was reading, a sense of disgust filling her mind. She knew this world and its people were different, but she hadn't realized just how different. With a trembling hand, she reached for the next biology book, and quickly flicked through the pages. Yes, this was the same. How did they do it? How could they survive with such a perverted sense of what was right? How could any species reproduce in that way? This was the final moment, now she knew. She had hoped that it wouldn't turn out to be necessary, but now she had no choice. She had to return home. _-~-_ "Damn!" the Net.Elementalist swore. "Do you find something?" Morph asked. "Briefly. There was a definite trace, but now it's gone." The Net.Elementalist shook the device. It didn't help that they could only broadly focus on Missy's mystical signature, and had already tracked down a few false positives. "This is getting us nowhere," Morph said. "We should head back to base. See if we can refine the signal, or something." The Net.Elementalist sighed. "I guess so. It's just frustrating." "I understand. Come on, let's go." Arcing through the air, the Net.Elementalist aimed for Sin.ci.net.ty and whatever waited there. _-~-_ "Will it work?" Peter asked, as they left the lawyer's offices. "It had better," Agent growled, not happy with the piece of paper in his hand, but it was the best they had been able to pull off. "Marhsa's pissed." "She shouldn't have acted like that. I realize she has problems, but she should be more professional than that." "With you." Agent met this revelation with silence. "Where to?" "Back to headquarters," Agent said quietly. "See if the others have found anything." _-~-_ Rotanna sat in the Alt.Riders' headquarters cafeteria, now with a cup of coffee. Captain Cleanup sat across from her, with his own mug. "...and then there was this time Squidman," Rotanna was saying, before pausing. "Now, you have to remember that he was never that good at chess, but this time he gets caught up by that maneouvre where you get caught by the queen and the bishop in about the third move?" Captain Cleanup nodded, already grinning. "Now, he had been playing against-" In a moment of blue, they were joined by a third figure, namely the member of the alien Chub race known as Missy. "What? Where did you...?" Rotanna asked, startled. "Where are others?" Missy asked. "They're not here. But you have to come with me," Rotanna said. "No! You not take my child!" "Rotanna," Captain Cleanup warned, seeing Rotanna about to pounce. "You've been infected by a parasite from some other dimensional plane," Rotanna said, trying to keep herself calm. "Do you know what that means?" "I ask her to," Missy replied. Rotanna looked at her, puzzled. "What?" "She was sad. I ask her to be with me. She accept." "You...spoke with this being?" Missy hesitated. "Yes. Maybe." Probably meant that the communication wasn't at a vocal level, Rotanna thought. Which further meant that the parasite probably influenced her thinking. "That parasite cannot exist here. It doesn't belong in this dimension," Rotanna said carefully. "Do you want it to be somewhere it shouldn't be?" "She didn't have anyone," Missy said quietly. "She was so lonely. She asked us. I said yes." "It wasn't real, whatever it was," Rotanna said. "Whatever this creature was, it influenced you. It can't be trusted." "She can!" Missy yelled, getting up and backing away from Rotanna. "Missy, please, we can help," Rotanna said, rising herself. Her hand reflexively gripped something, perhaps a spear, but not something visible, whatever it was. "Please, Missy," Captain Cleanup added in. "Rotanna does want to help." "I just want to scan you," Rotanna said. "See what this parasite has done to you." "She hasn't done anything!" "What's happening here?" Rotanna and Captain Cleanup turned to see the Net.Elementalist and Morph entering the cafeteria. "I'm just trying to scan Missy," Rotanna said. "Perhaps you can talk some sense into her." "You not take my child from me!" Missy yelled. "Missy," Morph said, immediately stepping towards her. "Calm down. It's just a scan. You've taken plenty yourself." "She want to take child!" "No, she doesn't," Morph said, quickly firing a look at Rotanna warning her not to interrupt. "Look, we're here now, nothing will happen unless you say so. We're your friends." "Don't trust her," said Missy, looking at Rotanna. "Can one of us take the scan?" the Net.Elementalist asked Rotanna. Rotanna nodded. "It's the smaller device on the table," she said, indicating the two items on the table she had been sitting at. "It's a kind of psi-scan. Just run it over her, then bring it to me." The Net.Elementalist picked up the device, which resembled a joystick on a large base which contain a screen for readouts. He slowly approached Missy, who glared at Rotanna, but otherwise didn't move. Under Rotanna's instruction, the Net.Elementalist started the scan, and waved the device over Missy's body. After a few moments, it beeped, and the Net.Elementalist retreated carefully, before handing the scanner to Rotanna. Taking the device, Rotanna quickly moved through the scans to the ones that interested her the most. Frowning, she absently took a drink of her now cold coffee while she pondered the results. "Well?" Morph asked. "These results," Rotanna said slowly. "They're unusual." "How so?" "They indicate the parasite has no moral polarity at all." "You can scan that?" the Net.Elementalist asked, surprised. Rotanna nodded. "Yes, it's possible to get a sense of Good or Evil, but the parasite is completely neutral." "So you won't take child from me?" Missy asked. Flipping to another scan, Rotanna slumped her shoulders. "It's too late." "What do you mean?" Morph asked. "The parasite has already bonded completely with Missy. Which might explain that flash of blue before." "So Missy did do that to the car," the Net.Elementalist said, sharing a look with Morph. "Whatever is in Missy did that," Rotanna said. "I'm not sure what it is, but it sounds like it has immense power. Even if it is amoral, it can still be dangerous. Short of killing Missy, I can't do anything about the parasite, and I won't do that. Make sure she, and it, are kept secure." "In which case, it sounds like she should be with us," a voice they all recognized said. They all turned to see Allen, surrounded again by men in black suits, standing in the doorway. "If you recall, she currently belongs to us, and if you'll like to hand her over, we'll leave without any more unpleasantness." "You're not taking her," Morph said. "Although, if I understand properly, you couldn't keep her last time." "We've taken precautions," Allen said, as all the men around him withdrew hypospray injectors. "Missy simply won't be conscious to cause a problem." "Allen, this is not going to happen," the Net.Elementalist warned. "Barry, don't make this worse than it has to be," Allen sighed. "It's for the best. And don't forget," he added, withdrawing paper from his pocket, "we have the right." The Net.Elementalist opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. In fact, a wave of silence rolled over the whole room, leaving no-one with the ability to say anything. "Oh, I think we have something to say about that," said Agent, strolling into the room from behind Allen, followed by Dva, who was concentrating fiercely. Extracting his own piece of paper, Agent held it up in front of Allen. "This is a particular piece of legislation relating to aliens, by which we mean creatures foreign to earth. They cannot be governed by any of our laws, and so nothing your lawyers can pull together can relate to Missy." Reaching out, he touched his paper to Allen's, and they both vanished in a flash of flame. "You may now leave," Agent said, snapping his fingers. Dva stopped concentrating. "This isn't over," Allen snarled. "Flame," the Net.Elementalist said. "Yes it is." "You would attack me?" Allen said, affronted. "Don't make me have to." Allen assessed the situation, but knew there was nothing he could do. "Fine," he said, snapping his own fingers. The men in suits quickly left through the door. "You've won this round, but I think there will be more rounds later." "Don't let the door hit you on the way out," Morph said. Throwing a last glare around the room, Allen turned on his heel and strode out. "We really need to consider better security for this place," Agent muttered. "What was all that about aliens immune to our laws?" Morph said. "A little loophole we inserted," Agent said, "specifically about aliens from Missy's planet. It won't last, but it works for now." "So we still need to keep protecting Missy?" "No." Missy's voice was quiet, but heard by all. "Um," said Rotanna. "There's nothing more I can do here. I will be keeping an eye on the dreamlands to make sure the parasite doesn't threaten that, but otherwise I'll...just, you know, leave you guys alone for now," she said, grabbing her other device from the table. "I think I'll show you the way out," Captain Cleanup said, quickly following Rotanna to leave the Alt.Riders alone. "Missy," Rick began. "They'll keep coming after you." "I leaving." There was another pause, which Agent finally broke. "What?" "I return home. Have child there," Missy said. "You can stay here," Rick said. "We can look after you." Missy shook her head. "No. This place wrong to birth child. Need be home." "What? If there's going to be problems with the birth, I'm sure Organic Lass could help..." "No. Be home. Want home." "All right," said Agent, ending further conversation. "All right. I understand. We could all do with a break," he added. "Prison. Mind control. I think we could all do with some time to ourselves." "Yes," Peter agreed. "I go?" Missy asked. Agent nodded, then added, "You coming back?" Missy shrugged. "Will see." Rick reached over and hugged Missy. "Please come back." Barry also gave Missy a hug. "Be safe," he said. Peter hugged Missy, but didn't say anything. A moment later, Marsha also hugged Missy, a tear in her eye. Then she turned, walked over to Agent, slapped him resoundedly on the face, and strode out. "Um, what was that?" Rick asked. "Private business," Agent said, before turning and leaving himself. Barry shared a raised eyebrow with Rick, then shrugged. Turning to Missy, he asked, "How will you get home?" Missy patted her stomach. "Child knows." And then she was gone. In a moment of blue. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEXT ISSUE: Missy's gone. The Alt.Riders are split up. Jumping forwards, we can catch up with them after their break, and be ready for the next adventure. Or we can find out "What I Did On My Holidays". CREDITS: All mine, bar Rotanna who belongs to Dvandom and used with permission. NOTES: This issue didn't turn out how I expected. I thought it was going to be a long story where Missy was with Allen and the others are trying to find out. I write in a very linear way, and when I reached certain parts, I just decided that what I had planned wasn't inspiring any ideas, so just changed events on the fly. Still, I had a place to end up, so that worked fine. I didn't want the ending to be emotional, because it's just a brief break, right? Right?Back to the Index.