________ ____ _ _____ _ _ ____ _ | | | | | | | | | | | | BLiP | | | | | | -|-- | | o | | | | |--| |--| |---| | | |--~ |--| |--| |--- ---- | #42 | | | | | | | | | | | \ | | | | | | |___ | | | | | |~~~ | | | | _ | | | | | |~~~ | | ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~ ~~~~ [The cover shows a drooling being laying collapsed on a rock, while a spiky bubble reads "The dastardly enemy revealed at last!" A banner at the bottom reads "Official _War Without Worlds_ tie in!"] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Read _War Without Worlds #1_ first! Really! I mean it! This'll make so much more sense if you do! You have been warned. - Footnote Girl] "Behind Enemy Lines" "Pluto's been destroyed!" "What are you talking about? Where have you been?" Marsha asked accusingly. "On Pluto! Only now, it's not there!" "That's rubbish," Rick said. "You can't just destroy a whole planet." "*I* didn't. This other planet did!" "Please stop using so many exclamation marks," Agent said quietly. Barry took a breath, and blew it out in a rush. "I know this sounds crazy, but I was there, and now it isn't!" "What were you doing on Pluto?" "It's a long story. I was poisoned, or something, and ended up bouncing around the net, but finally managed to return. But ended up on Pluto!" [As seen in _The Alt.Riders #40_ - Footnote Girl.] "Yeah, well, we were all targeted for death by shadowy forces in the government that want us dead," Rick countered. [As uncovered last issue. - Footnote Girl.] "That's going to be the least of our problems unless we stop this planet." "Who's this?" Agent asked, kneeling down beside Barry to look at the little seemingly six year old girl next to him. Who had blue skin. "Um, she saved me. Got me away from Pluto and back to Looni.earth." "Did Missy send her?" Marsha asked. Barry shrugged. "I guess. She doesn't say much." "What's her name?" "Er...she never said." Marsha took the girl's hand. "What's your name, sweety?" The girl just looked at her. "Try French?" Rick suggested. %What is your name?% %Lillie,% Lillie responded. %Did Missy send you here?% Lillie just looked at Marsha without replying. Looking back up at the others, Marsha asked "You don't think this is Missy's child, do you?" "How could that be?" Barry returned. "She's six!" "I guess. But you said she saved you from Pluto...how?" "Some kind of teleportation." "A flash of blue?" "Er. Yes." "Do you think she'll help us?" Agent asked, starting at Lillie, who returned his stare. "Help us with what?" "That planet of yours. Tell me about it." "It was really weird. It was pink. No...purple...I think...maybe blue and green? Anyway, it stuck a kind of pipe into Pluto's surface, and then sucked it up." "Sucked it up?" "Yep. When I left it had sucked a good chunk out of Pluto already." "Some kind of vampire planet?" Rick asked. "None that are due any time soon," Agent replied. "A pipe? As in, something constructed?" Barry considered this for a moment. "Yes. That makes sense." "Then we're dealing with something living on the planet. We should go there immediately." "Um, I could do with a shower first," Marsha volunteered. "I'll say you do," Rick grinned, earning a jab in the ribs. "We are talking about the destruction of a planet in our solar system, and you want to worry about the niceties of hygiene?" "And a decent meal. We could be gone a while," Rick pointed out. "I doubt Pluto will wait that long," Barry said. "I doubt there's much we can do against a planetful of inhabitants," Rick returned. "Meet back here in five, I'll ask Captain Cleanup to organise a quick bite, then we'll go." "Does professionalism mean nothing to you people?" Agent called out at the quickly retreating backs. He sighed, then sniffed...and quickly made a disgusted face. Not an entirely absurd proposition then... _-~-_ A blue flash announced the arrival of the Alt.Riders, but fortunately there was no-one around to see them. Agent glanced about quickly, then tapped Dva on the shoulder, causing him to drop his silencing field. "Right. Eyes open...are we underground?" Agent asked, looking upwards. "A tunnel of some sort," replied Morph, waving about a scan.thingee they had brought with them. "Some weird readings, but it looks like we're surrounded by rock. Containing its own natural luminescence, useful. The surface is..." Morph tapped a few buttons. "About five kilometers that way," he said, pointing upwards. "Fine...a tunnel in rock? Not exactly world destroying, is it?" "We could be anywhere on...or rather, in, the planet," Morph pointed out. "Frankly, we should be amazed Lillie got us anywhere near here. I'm rather surprised she understood what we said." They both stared at Lillie for a moment, who just stood there, peering with only minor interest at the walls around them. "Anyway, we need to-" Agent stopped as he saw Dva. Who was staring at the Net.Elementalist... The colours...the reds...the greens...over the rainbow and down the escape hatch, one fish two fish, red fish copyright laws... Barry giggled. Oh yes, watch out for the Coppertone commercials, they say it's the sun tan lotion that causes the skin cancer, don't you know... The world spread out before him, wide vistas of green and yellow and four and chair and adding and unie and phesomesophilate and... ...watch out for the walrus, Mr Happy! And then he stood before him, all dark and mysterious and velvety... "...Woman in red...watch out for the woman...need you..." His hand waved in front of his face, fingers blurring, skin melding into bone into flesh into acne into orange into car and boat and... ...not long now, just a nice peaceful sleep on the ceiling before a bath in dinner, and the the turtles will sing him a lullaby over breakfast, could there be any more potatoes, there are no more bananas today. No, not second banana heaven for him... The others watched amazed as the Net.Elementalist giggled again, slumped into the wall, and slowly fell to the ground. "What's up with him?" Morph asked, but didn't really expect a reply. "Perhaps Marsha..." Dva said, closing his eyes. Only to open them again when Agent gripped his shoulder hard. "No. Stay as you are. Morph, check the scanner, all frequencies." Morph nodded, and ran a broad spectrum check. His eyes widened as a large range of frequencies lit up on the screen. "This place is psychicly active. We're talking major output on all mental frequencies. Whatever's going on here, it's bombarding all of us." Dva shrugged. "We're fine." "Courtesy of the government," Agent said. "You, me and Morph all got mental protection added. Barry never did." "And neither did Marsha," Morph added. [This mental shielding has already proven useful in _The Alt.Riders #34_ - Footnote Girl.] "But what about Lillie?" They glanced at her again. "Seems fine to me," Agent said dismissively, "So what do we do with the Net.Elementalist?" "Bring him with us," Agent replied. "At worse, he'll let us know if we enter a psychicly clear spot. Or a hot one." Sighing, Morph and Dva went to pick him up. They didn't bother asking Agent for help. "This way," Agent announced, pointing down the tunnel in one direction, and then leading the way. "If he drools on me, you're getting the bill!" Morph claimed, as he and Dva dragged the Net.Elementalist along into unexplored territory. _-~-_ Agent poked his head out around a bend in the tunnel, and quickly pulled back again, only to peer out once more, but slowly. His eyes darted about, taking in information, then he retreated again. "There's someone around the corner," he reported to the others. "Looks humanoid. And to be in the same state as the Net.Elementalist here. Whilst that might mean we can move past him unnoticed, we need information. Come on." Leading the way around, Agent walked over to the figure he had seen. Although the term "humanoid" was appropriate, in no way could it be mistaken for human. For starters, the skin was purple, and it was stretched tight over a tall, thin frame that looked like it would snap at the slightest touch. The being was naked, but hardly differentiated from a basic template. Although Agent had used the male pronoun, there was no indications of any gender attributes those of Looni.earth were used to. Also, as Agent had intimated, he was like the Net.Elementalist, in that he was slumped over, resting on one thin arm, giggling, staring at nothing, and occasionally drooling. Morph and Dva carefully propped the Net.Elementalist against the wall, then knelt down beside Agent. "Has he eaten anything...like ever?" Morph asked. "Hard to say," Agent replied, reaching out to poke the person. "Without a proper autopsy, we can't really say too much about their biological structure. For all we know, he receives nutrients from the air." Catching a look from the others, he added, "Don't worry, I'm not going to cut him open. Pass me the scanner, will you?" As Agent scanned him, they watched as he rolled over, and pitifully crawled a few paces, then leant down to lick the rock lying on the floor next to him, prompting Agent to scan that. "Interesting. That rock isn't natural." "What? How can rock not be natural? It's rock!" "Not a natural rock formed by geological processes," Agent clarified. "A prefabricated rock, and one containing a high concentration of packaged nutrients and chemicals, some of which this thing can't read," he said, shaking the scan.thingee in annoyance. "But does contain high amounts of something that is psychicly active." "Some kind of drug?" "Maybe." Agent reached over and grabbed the person's shoulders, shaking him. "Hey. Can you hear me? Can you understand me?" The person rolled over, and made eye contact with Agent...but then giggled and drooled some more. "I don't think he's in any state for a conversation," Morph said. Agent stood. "Whatever's going on here, whatever these creatures are, they aren't a part of it. Come on, we have to find out who's really behind this." _-~-_ What they found was more. More inhabitants, that is. Wherever they were, they were coming up on a more populous part of the planet, and that hopefully meant finding someone who could actually answer some questions. For there was no way the inhabitants around them were in any shape to even speak coherently. They were like the first person they had come across, all debilitated, barely able to move, just making it to the next rock to suck on. "This does raise some interesting questions about how exactly this population continues to exist," Morph said, as he and Dva shifted the Net.Elementalist to a more convenient position. "I don't exactly see these people as able to partake in reproduction of the species." "There are more ways than just sexual reproduction," Agent said. "And for all we know, these could simply be cast offs of the main society. Or they could be used simply as breeding stock for some other caste in this society that uses them purely for their body and supplies the basic nutrients they need." "And keeps them docile with the psychoactive drugs in their...food?" Morph inquired. Agent shrugged. "We don't have a good idea what is really going on here, yet. And we haven't exactly explored a lot of this planet yet." "How do we know we're ever going to get somewhere useful then?" Morph asked. "Just think how long it could take to locate a decent city if you happened to land in, say, Af.rec.a. As you say, we could be in some...gigantic insane asylum on this planet, and the real events are happening on the other side." "Good point, that man," Agent muttered. "But this scanner isn't providing any useful readings, and we don't have any way to explore this planet on a large scale from here." "So that's it? We just wonder around here for an eternity, while this planet does...who knows what?" "Have you got any better ideas?" "Well, no, but...hey, where's Lillie going?" Agent turned around to see Lillie disappearing around a corner. "Come on, we need to stay with her." Rehefting the Net.Elementalist, Morph and Dva quickly started moving again. "Any reason for the sudden concern?" "Without her, we're probably not going to get back home again," Agent pointed out practically. Morph rolled his eyes. "So nice to know you're such an example of humanity." But around the corner they encountered a problem. The tunnel before them split into two, one going up, the other going down. The one going up had people in it, and there was the hint that the rock was starting to give way to something far more manufactured, some kind of metal. It was obviously a key conduit to something important. Unfortunately, Lillie was already walking down the other tunnel, and would soon be out of sight. "I'll go after her," Morph volunteered. "Fine. Dva and I will start up that way. Catch us up." Agent started off, but paused as Dva didn't move. "Well?" "Well...what about Barry?" Agent barely glanced at the Net.Elementalist. "He's not likely to go anywhere. Just put him down here and we can pick him up on the way back." Morph and Dva exchanged glances, but, unfortunately, Agent was right. Moving quickly, they propped the Net.Elementalist up against a wall, and out of the immediate crawl area of those nearby, just in case they got ideas. "Barry," Morph said, speaking clearly at the Net.Elementalist. "We'll just be gone a little while. Then come back for you straight away. Okay?" There was no sign that the Net.Elementalist heard him, or understood. Just more drooling. "Okay. Great. Just...stay here." With a final resigned look, Morph and Dva split up after their respective partners, both aware that the dependable parts of the team were slowly being whittled away. _-~-_ The up tunnel did indeed prove to be interesting, the rock did indeed give away to a metal surface, but there were also more corridors to choose from. But the people around them were no more alert than their fellows in the other tunnels. Dva followed Agent as he continually picked the route that kept climbing up. There was no reason for this, Agent readily admitted, but they needed some decision as to which way to go, and that was as good as any. During their travels they heard a sound, and they quickly ducked back into a nearby corridor. They waited while the sound got louder, and then they saw something resembling a cart moving over the floor, and eventually a being was revealed pushing it. Agent stepped out behind him...her...it, and tapped it on the shoulder. "Excuse me, can you help me?" The being spun around, and its mouth opened in shock as it took in Agent then Dva, then it quickly scrambled for something attached to its side. Something they could immediately identify as a weapon. "Oh hells," Agent muttered, and his fist lashed out, expertly tapping the being on the chin, and sending it spiralling into unconsciousness. "Helpful," Dva said, peering into the cart. "Some kind of guard perhaps?" Agent said, kneeling down, only to look up in surprise as something was thrust under his nose. He refocused his vision to see Dva holding a lump of rock out to him, nodding with his head to indicate it came from the cart. Agent took it, and ran the scan.thingee over it. "It's similar to what we found before, but with high traces of silicate and ice. Recently made to. If I had to guess, I'd say this was a piece of Pluto they had converted." "He was alert," Dva said, indicating the being. "Yes. No sign of mental deficiency. Interesting. Could be more than one type of feeding pattern in this place..." With no further immediate options available, they left the being to recover, and continued on their way. They tried, from time to time, to question those they found, hoping their levels of awareness would be enough to answer questions, but still there was no response, and neither was sure if this was because of mental deficiency or a lack of understanding over what was said. Then they came across something extremely significant. A door. "Since when are there doors in here?" Agent asked. Dva just shrugged in reply. "It's beginning to feel more and more like a constructed complex here. Perhaps this was some great civilisation that has collapsed, leading to those poor dregs out there." "Still destroyed a planet," Dva pointed out. "And someone is feeding them." This time Agent shrugged as he contemplated the door. Dva watched him for a few moments, becoming more puzzled. Finally giving up, Dva reached out and touched the door. " ," said Agent, but the door immediately slid down and out of the way. Beyond the corridor continued, with no sign anything significant beyond. They both stepped over the threshold, and the door slid back into place. Otherwise there was no reaction they could discern. " four five...ah, right," said Agent. "Yes, yes, very practical, but not necessarily wise. There might have been alarms and such." "Would have found someone to talk to then," Dva pointed out. "Well, yes. Quite. Shall we continue?" Agent immediately strolled on, trying for nonchalance, Dva following, smirking slightly. _-~-_ Morph was slowly becoming more and more frustrated. The tunnel was getting worse and worse, twisting and turning, rocks and cracks festooning the ground before him. But, although he could climb over them easily enough, he couldn't catch up with Lillie. He could see her ahead, just disappearing around the next corner, but try as he might, as soon as he closed in there was a slippery boulder under his foot, or the passage suddenly shrunk, making him have to change shape to keep going. Right now, he had about four legs, and looked more like a goat version of a centaur as he continued after her. With every step, he felt like the ground was going to collapse underneath him, and was becoming more and more worried that something similar would happen to Lillie. Morph was struck by a thought. Why was he so worried about Lillie? he wondered. He had only met her a few hours before, and now he was chasing after her? It was obvious she was a Chub, as Missy was, and yet...Chubs weren't thin, like Lillie. And from what little he saw of them on their planet, they didn't have powers like Lillie did either. [He encountered Chubs waaaay back in _The Alt.Riders #5_ - Footnote Girl.] Rounding another corner, he caught sight of Lillie again...was she skipping? Nope, she was gone again, and Morph made yet another attempt to quicken up after her. What if she was related to Missy after all? Morph pondered. Rotanna had warned them that Missy's child was some kind of parasite that had infected her via the dream dimension, and they had seen evidence that Missy's child was capable of teleporting Missy around in flashes of blue. [As evidenced in _The Alt.Riders #35_ - Footnote Girl, who is currently working on overtime pay.] Yes, that made sense. This had to be Missy's child. But then...why was she already six years old? Was Chub physiognomy that different? And where was Missy then? Could Lillie have- Morph quickly ducked to one side as there was a sudden fall of rocks from above. Nothing that would kill him (even if he hadn't been able to shape-shift himself into something more impervious), but it was easier to get out of the way of them. When the tunnel settled again, Morph sprang over the new debris, only to catch sight of Lillie ahead again. He really must catch up to her. It wouldn't do to let her get harmed. After all, she was just a kid. _-~-_ ...ice cream dreams of golden daffodils, spinning pretty colours before his eyes, ponies prancing on Tuesday, let not the mayor be drowned in pink and green... ...why not? old chap, why not indeed? But then who would feed the dolphins? They couldn't take care of themselves, they'd never get the chairs repaired... There's that man again. Why's he looking so serious? It wasn't that bad, surely? Or did he mean Shirley? "...receptive state...woman in red...must...don't believe...woman...cannot sustain reality...Barry!..." ...purple feet in moccasins made from old potato skins, in a nice white wine sauce. Barry giggled at this. That was just weird! _-~-_ Now Dva and Agent were just wandering around. The choices weren't just "uphill" any more, and there were more and more doors, fortunately none of them locked. But both of them felt relieved when they peered around yet another corridor to see a guard in front of the doors at the other end. The guard itself looked distinctly different from most of the the others they had seen, but a lot like that other being with the cart they had taken out. He was alert and also purposeful. Like the cart pusher, he was as naked as the others, and wore the same weapon like something on the end of his hand. Deciding then that the only course was just to be brazen about it, Agent and Dva strode around the corridor and started walking towards the guard as casually as they could. "48616C7421" the guard said, immediately changing to a more defensive posture. "57686F 617265 796F753F 57686174 617265 796F753F" "We're just visiting," Agent replied, holding his hands up in a placating way. "Tell me, is there an information bureau around somewhere? My friend and I seem to be a little lost." "576861743F 57686174 617265 796F75 74616C6B696E67 61626F75743F 49 68617665 746F 7265706F7274 746869732C" the guard said, turning around to reach for a panel near the door. He started speaking, but quickly looked back at the intruders in shock as nothing came out of his mouth. He screamed, silently, as Agent took one step nearer and lashed out, knocking the guard unconscious with one punch. "I doubt he's done any serious guarding ever," Agent commented, reaching down to pull the weapon away. "Probably only here to shoo away any of those poor saps that happen to wander into these corridors." "You understood him?" Dva asked. "You didn't?" Dva shook his head. "Well, then, I guess we leave the talking to me. Silence please," Agent said, reaching out to press the door. Dva quickly concentrated, and the door opened down without a sound. Beyond was a short corridor, but then it opened up into a large room. They could see the other side, a large wall with another opening in it, but the rest of the room was currently out of sight. Walking forward carefully, they were nearly caught by the door as it closed, but otherwise managed to enter the short corridor without a problem. As they got near the entrance they could see more and more, until finally it was all revealed to them. The room was a large chamber, the metal here absent in favour of the natural rock, but that had been worn and smoothed to a clean surface. To their left, the wall was in fact a large screen, currently split into four different views. Underneath were a range of what looked like control banks, but the controls themselves were inset into the bank such that the operator had to insert their arm to reach it. Obviously their technology, whatever it was, designed interfaces around entirely encompassing the hand, possibly allowing for a full interface with hand motions? But that aside, the views alone commanded their attention. In the top left hand corner was a view from outside the planet, with another planet in plain view. It was obviously Neptune, the blue green surface distinctive. The top right hand picture was a wider view, with Neptune in the center, orbited by four satellites, and rings. The bottom left hand picture was the surface of this planet, positioned in the middle of the rings. As rocks and debris hit the planet surface, tiny mouths would open up to gulp down the matter without a pause. But the bottom right hand picture was the most arresting to them. It showed shots of Looniearth, displaying large figures on the planet's surface (in similar colourings to what they saw of this planet's surface) surrounded by superheroes. As they watched they saw Writer's Block Woman ducking out of the way of a swat, then the picture changed to Bizzaro Boy throwing out blasts from his hand to splash harmless on the figure, then again to one figure at the bottom of the sea (as best as they could make out). A quick count showed seven different figures, all engaging LNH forces. Beneath the screens, at the controls, were several beings, running back and forth, plunging their hands in to manipulate several controls. Comments flew back and forth between various beings, and between them and the ones at the other end of the room. The other end of the room. To their right, Agent and Dva saw...thrones. Two large ones, each tall enough to be a story high, and several smaller ones scattered around. In each one sat more beings, distinguishable by the fact that they all wore different forms of crowns, tiaras, and other headware. Clearly, here, then, were the rulers. "Look at that," Agent said. "What?" "The being in the chairs...or rather..." Dva looked closely and saw what Agent had spotted. They weren't so much in the chairs as hovering slightly above them. "Very psychic." "Makes sense." "Why?" "Those things in the corridors below...all sapped of their mental energy, wouldn't you say?" Dva frowned. "You mean...?" "Those eat the rocks, where as these beings eat their minds...well, mental energy. Interesting evolutionary development, but I am just guessing here." "5265706F727421" one of the beings in the tallest chairs said. "466F7572 6D6F6F6E73 636F6E73756D65642E 466F7572 746F 676F2C 706C7573 746865 72696E67732C" came back. "Huh?" Dva said, poking Agent in the side. "They're halfway through clearing the orbit around Neptune," Agent whispered back, looking out. "Then, presumably, they'll destroy Neptune." "Who are they?" Agent shrugged. "Don't know. Never seen them before." "57686F2773 74686572653F 53686F77 796F757273656C76657321" the one being on the tall chair suddenly said. Agent and Dva saw the being looking right at them, and tried to back away, but found themselves unable to move. Then, they were flying through the air to hang suspended before the main two. "57686F 617265 796F753F" "Hi there," Agent said, gasping. "I'm Agent. This is Dva. We just thought we might pop in, check the place out." "57686174 646F 796F75 77616E743F" "Well, you know...maybe stop you from destroying our solar system." This challenge, such as it was, earned an unusual response. Laughter. And not mocking laughter, genuine laughter from actual amusement. One of the smaller beings, a child?, whispered something. The main one (parent? mother? father?) nodded. "596F75 6D6179 6B696C6C 7468656D2C" it said. Then Agent and Dva dropped from the air, as the smaller ones launched themselves up, mouths wide open, perhaps smiling, but certainly showing teeth dripping with something like saliva. As one, they smashed into the pair. _-~-_ As Morph progressed, the light around him changed. The tunnels glowed with their own inner light, providing enough light to see, but not really more than, say, a 100 Watt bulb. But, up ahead, the light was getting brighter. Reflections in the rock scattered and flickered, indicating the light source was moving, but as to what caused it, Morph couldn't tell. As he continued, he could see cracks in the rock next to him, but although light was shining through, the gaps were too small to see anything on the other side, and the light itself was painful to stare at, despite whatever filters he put over his eyes. But then he saw a large gap ahead, and a figure standing in the light that flowed through it. Shielding his eyes as much as he could, Morph made out the diminutive form of Lillie standing in the radiance, not moving, just staring through the gap. Morph finally reached her side, but was unable to say anything as his gaze was drawn to the light on the other side. It was...magnificent. Now that he could see properly, he was able to make out more, and what he saw astounded him. Before him was, essentially, a large ball of light. But "large" wasn't the appropriate word, but then neither was "gigantic", "ginormous" or even "really, really, big". The sheer scale was something else, but Morph realised one important fact. This ball of light was the centre of the planet. The planet was only really a shell around it, tapping into this for energy. Moreover, it explained everything. It explained how this planet was able to move around. It explained how it was able to consume other planets. And it explained why the entire force of Looniearth wouldn't be enough to destroy this planet... _-~-_ "What are they doing?" asked Dva, as he sailed through the air, only to be brought up short as he slammed into an invisible wall. Fortunately, he managed to cushion his impact slightly, but it still jolted his arm. Which was broken in at least two places already. "Playing," Agent replied, trying to remain in a ball, tucked his arms inside, although he occasionally threw glances at the screens. "Playing? Why?" "Because they are children!" Agent shouted back, then grunting as he was slammed particularly hard into the floor. When Dva next caught sight of Agent, he saw a trickle of blood flowing down from Agent's mouth. "Keep watching the screens." Dva twisted around as best he could as he went flying upside down, the blood rushing to his head making him light-headed, not helped by the injuries he had already sustained. On the wide shoot of Neptune, the last moon was just being sucked off the screen. Now Neptune lay bare for the stripping. "What?" Dva tried to silence the gravity around him, but it wasn't that that sent him straight up to the roof, although it then took over to bring him down...until he was caught at the last moment. "They're coming!" Agent replied, before he was suddenly flattened out, arms and legs pulled straight away from him, wrenching a scream from his lips. In one hand Dva saw the scanner, now without its cover and wires hanging in strange arrangements. That's what Agent had been doing, altering it, but why? Then he saw it, on the screen, what Agent had already seen. In the distance, barely visible. A space.thingee. The LNH! Dva turned back again at the grunt of pain to see Agent's arms slowly being pulled from their sockets. But then he had his own problems as the children tried to split him like a wishbone, using his legs. This did mean they were in one place, Agent above him. With a flap of his wrist, Agent sent the scanner flying towards Dva, who barely managed to catch it as the pain increased. "Beacon!" Agent shouted, and Dva hurriedly pressed the main button. _-~-_ Parking Karma Kid looked through the main screen in amazement, as he watched a long straw being inserted into Neptune's atmosphere. "How are they doing that?" "That planet looks familiar," Kid Not-Appearing-In-Any-Retcon-Hour-Story said. "Something about the colours-yowch!" he suddenly yelled as Bad-Timing Boy accidently spilled his coffee onto Kid NAIARHS' lap. "Hey guys, I'm getting a signal," PKK said. "What? Where?" Kid NAIARHS asked. "Inside the planet's surface." "Inside?" Kid NAIARHS and BT Boy chorused. "An emergency beacon. Fire up full scanners and transporters." "Scanning now...locating life forms inside...strange readings, certainly not human...wait, two meta-human signals there, near the beacon." "Activating transport." With a hummm, shimmering white light fulled the small transporter bay, then faded to reveal the battered forms of Agent and Dva, who immediately slumped to the floor. Kid NAIARHS quickly fetched a medical kit, then knelt down to attend to them. "Get...get the others," Agent croaked. "Scanning...two more...really unusual life signs. Transporting now." Another white light glow brought Morph and Lillie into the space.thingee. Lillie looked around with interest, but didn't say anything, whereas Morph continued to stare ahead, locked in some internal vision. "Can't find any more signals." "Okay," Bad-Timing Boy said, sitting at the controls. "Punching in a return trip to home," he said, slamming his fist down on a big button. "Wait!" said Dva. "The Net.Elementalist..." "What? He's still in there?" PKK said, surprise evident in his voice. "Er, too late," said Bad-Timing Boy. "I already activated the automatic return. You guys need medical help," he added weakly. "I didn't scan him," PKK said. "As far as I can tell, he's not on that planet..." -------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEXT ISSUE: One comrade fallen already, can others do anything to help? And how does diving help? But first, check out the second exciting issue of _War Without Worlds_! CREDITS: The Alt.Riders are mine, used with permission. Parking Karma Kid created by wReam, useable without permission. Bad-Timing Boy useable without permission. Kid Not-Appearing-In-Any-Retcon-Hour-Story created by Matt Rossi, owned by Saxon's, used with permission. The strange planet and inhabitants created by Jamas Enright and Saxon Brenton, used entirely without permission, and boy, are they in trouble! NOTES: It's amazing how stories can evolve dynamically at times. No-one meant to leave the Net.Elementalist behind, but when they couldn't carry him any further, the plot decided that something nasty would happen to him...Back to the Index.