______ _________ _____ ____ ____ _______ _____ ___ ___ | | | | / _ \ | \| | | /\ \ / _ \ \ \ / / |BLiP| | |~~~~~ / / \ \ | | | | \/ | / / \ \ \ | / | | | ~~~~~| | ~~~ | | | ____ | / | | | | | | |#15 | | |~~~~~ | ___ | | | | | | | /\ ~| \ \ / / | | | | | | | | | | | |\ | | | | ~~ / \ ~ / | | ~~~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ [Fan.Boy and Jates struggle together bathed in radiance from the now opened ornate box (although it faces away from us). Dreck is in the background, looking at Fan.Boy in horror. A special star shaped box proclaims "Let the hounds of war be unleashed!"] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Splash page: Fan.Boy lies, collapsed, on the floor, Dreck holding his head in his lap. In the background, Dr. Bill Jates looks on, laughing. Focus: Fan.Boy's upper body. His face and chest are twitching, as if fighting something inside. Dreck's head can be seen, somewhat cowed. Tears are running down it. Focus: Fan.Boy's face. His eyes are closed, and his mouth is twisted in a grimace. His face glistens with sweat. Dreck's hands can be seen, trying to stop Fan.Boy from moving. Focus: Fan.Boy's forehead. It is coated with sweat. His brow is furrowed, strained. Blackout. _-~-_ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA The laughter flowed all around Barry, hounding him, beating at his defenses. "Who are you?" cried Barry, screaming out into the nothingness. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA "Stop it!" he yelled. "Stop it!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Blackout. _-~-_ Barry came to, still floating in nothing. Everywhere he looked, he couldn't see anything. He held his hand in front of his face. At least he could see that. Barry turned, over and over, around and around, trying to see something, anything, that might tell him where he was. Nothing. All around him. Nothing. Barry lost track of which way was up, but all ways seemed to be. He gave up, and stretched out. He decided that where he was staring right now was up. Nothing. Nothing at all. A small pin-prick of light encountered his vision, then swam hazily. Barry realised that he was straining his eyes, and they were watering. He blinked rapidly. The light was small. Barry stared hard. Was it even there at all? Or was it something he himself had created, just to give himself something to look at. Barry decided that there was something there, but very far off. It was only when it blossomed like a nova a few seconds later that Barry had any impression of speed, but it was too late. Barry lay flattened on the ball of light as it rushed along. The forces pushing him backwards told him that he was traveling at a high acceleration. The light tumbled away from underneath him, and Barry guessed that the ball of light, whatever it really was, had stopped, but he hadn't. Barry now felt something else underneath him, and he reached down to feel what it was. It felt like a seat. He put a hand out carefully, and encountered something else. A table of some sort. Why couldn't he see it? Light again blossomed around him, but this was daylight flooding in through a window beside him. Barry started out, looking at a rock side outside. It fell away quickly, and Barry looked back to see that the train had just emerged from a tunnel. The train. Yes, he was on a train. It was familiar to him. Two years ago, when he was still in New Zealand, he had taken a trip from Christchurch to Greymouth on the Alpine Express. This was the same train. Barry lay back, letting his eyes fall on the seat opposite him. What the hell was he doing here? "Tickets please," someone said, sliding into the seat opposite him. Barry's eyes slowly focused on a guard's uniform. Ticket, ticket, where was his ticket? Barry patted himself down, looking for a pocket he might have put his ticket in, and felt strange material. He looked down. Spandex. He was still in his Fan.Boy outfit. Barry looked back up at the guard. "Excuse me, but I think..." He broke off as recognition grew. "Jates," he exclaimed. "Yes, yes, that's right," said Jates, back in his normal white clothing. "Wake up, Mr. Knewbee," he said, clicking his fingers under Barry's nose. "We're inside your mind now. It is a rather dreary place, I agree, but do try to stay awake. Your right of occupancy depends upon it." What? "Right of occupancy?" Barry repeated, dimly. "Yes. Your right of occupancy," Jates said, rolling the r's. "You see, you drank the wrong potion, and you're dying." "We're still in the Peril Room, aren't we?" asked Barry. "Of course." Barry sat back, smug. "Well, that's all right then. If I die, I'll just come back to life." "Of course you will. Wouldn't do me any good if you didn't. But, it wasn't your body I was referring to. Your... what's a good word?.. soul, I suppose, usually travels from one body to the next. But not this time. That's what the potion is affecting. Your soul dies, and I take over." "You? What do you want with me?" "You still don't know who I am, do you?" Barry shook his head. Jates sighed. "Ah, well, maybe later. Let's talk about me. Let's talk about how brilliant I really am." Barry snorted. "As if." "Don't be impertinent. Haven't you ever wondered: why do you come back to life? How can you access other newsgroups? Just how did you come to be in the LNH anyway?" "Not really. I've read the first issue. It was an accident in the Peril Room control systems. Reached out and grabbed me." Jates was fairly bubbling with excitement. "No it wasn't." "What was it then?" Barry asked slowly. "It was me. I did it. I did it all. You weren't pulled so much, Mr. Knewbee, as you were pushed. True, you were grabbed, but that was only due to my prompting." Barry held up a hand. "This is getting really silly. I'm going for a drink." He stood up, and turned towards where he remembered the buffet car as being. "Till later, then. Mr. Knewbee. Just try to remember who I am." Barry turned back, puzzled, but saw no-one there. _-~-_ Barry returned to his seat after suitable fortification. Although he hadn't seen anyone else on the train except for the staff member at the buffet counter, she hadn't regarded him with any interest. Hadn't even asked for payment, as it happened. Barry sat, pondering his predicament. What did his powers have to do with the current situation? How exactly did his powers work, come to that? Most LNHers derived their powers from the comic book nature of the universe, without any need to resort to actual explanations. Still, there had to be something in it, or Jates wouldn't be making such a big fuss over it. As much as Barry thought about it, he still couldn't see any significance. "Been having fun, Mr. Knewbee?" "Do sit down, Dr. Jates," Barry said, pleasant for a change. Jates noticed the change of attitude, but slid into the seat without comment. "Worked it out yet?" asked Jates, a twinkle in his eye. Barry shook his head. "I have to admit that I'm stumped." "How far away is our universe, Mr. Knewbee?" "Our universe?" "Yes, the universe we both first existed in." "You're from there?" said Barry, his voice rising in surprise. Jates's expression took on a mask of pain. "You really do weary me, Mr. Knewbee. Of course I come from there. How else would I know you?" Barry studied Jates's face carefully. Was there someone in there he recognised? "Who are you?" Jates waved it away. "Never mind. Answer the question." Barry shrugged. "I can't. How far away is the colour yellow? What does a cat look like in the dark? It's not something that can be readily answered." "Try not to be obtuse, Mr Knewbee. The answer is, two universes away. There is only one between here and there. It is referred to, in the quaint terminology that this universe uses, the Writers' Universe." Barry's eyes bulged. "Tell me," said Jates, taking yet another turn. "Would you agree with the statement 'Everything written is fiction'." Barry blinked. "Well, I suppose..." "Even newspapers, Mr. Knewbee? Even diaries? Truth and fact written down by those who observed and experienced it?" Barry floundered for an answer. "Yes, even then that statement still remains true. While somewhat cynical, perhaps, even when events are written down, they are biased by those writing them, become what the observers think what happened, as opposed to what truly did happen." "And all this means?" "It means, whenever something is written down, it can never have taken place in our universe. Not exactly as it was written. Of course, generalities are true: 'So and so was promoted,' 'I got this present from whatshername,' but if the specifies of the event was ever written down, then it would be slightly changed." Barry thought about this. It seemed true. Maybe it even was. But what did it have to do with him. "The events that happened in.. the first issue, you called it. They were written down, yes?" "...yes," Barry said slowly. "And therefore, by the above argument, they can't have taken place in that universe they were written in." "....no." "Yet, they did happen somewhere. In a myriad of possibilities, everything is played out. The very basis for the existence for this here universe, is it not? And so, we have a universe that is exactly the same in all respects to the Writers' Universe, except that in that one Barry Knewbee's mind was copied and placed in the net. And so, that universe must be nest to the original one. One event differs only." "...I suppose," said Barry, doubtfully. "Fine," said Jates, changing his manner yet again. "Suppose what you will. It doesn't change the fact that it happened. Now for a questioned suited for your special talents. What happened in _Dvandom Force #42_?" Barry immediately remembered all the details, calling them easily to mind. He was about to reiterate the entire story, but considered its relevance to the current discussion. "At the end of it, the LNHiverse was placed next to the Writers' Universe." "Precisely," beamed Jates. "And so, the two universe are almost next to one another. "Imagine, if you will, someone immensely bored with their job. They're stuck in a tedious back-end country, placed in a life with no prospects, and yet their inner desires burn with a need to be expressed. Do you have any idea what that sort of mind could accomplish?" Barry shook his head. "Anything it wanted to. Only, it can't. It's stuck in the back-end of beyond with nothing better to do than twiddle its metaphorical thumbs. "And so, slowly, an idea grows. What a better way to find a release for the pent-up energies than to show them off? To do something to just show that it could be done? And in this case, what was planned was total domination and control." "Come off it," Barry scoffed. "That's been done to death. Why should this person be capable of ruling when so many others have tried?" "Ruling? No, not ruling. Guiding, nurturing, controlling form behind the scenes, nothing so overt as actual ruling, and all for some grand plan that can be decided upon later." "You mean they don't even know what they're going to do with this place if they get it?" "When, not if, when. And it's not important. Right now, getting control is more necessary than wielding it." "And so they're going to take over the LNHiverse? Some ambition." "Don't be so mundane. I said that this was far more that just this tawdry reality. I'm talking about control over the entire net itself!" "Y'know," said Barry. "That's still a cliche." "Doesn't matter. What matters is actually being able to do it." "And the distance between universes come in..." Barry motioned with his hand, encouraging the conversation back onto topic. "Think about it. Once a foot hold could be gained in one net.reality, it would be child's play to get to any other. Many times has the LNH gone beyond its own boundaries." "True, true. I've done so myself." "Indeed. At that's partly the point. A foot hold. In just one. And, in this case, the closest one is just one universe over. The LNHiverse. Its so close, so malleable. Anyone with power could tweak a few things here and there, and presto!" "Presto? Isn't that a cheap drink?" "Presto: the extradimensional Peril Room systems are linked with the extranormal capabilities of the HoloDecStations and the manipulatory skills of the Transmat Chambers, and someone from outside that reality is plucked out and deposited there for control." "Me?" "You." "But all those other realities..." "Once one universe had been breached, and a subject was taken, it was simple for the HoloDecStations to recreate your body for the Transmat Chambers to send, via the Peril Room, to other realities. And lo, you were distributed. "Whenever you died, the HoloDecStations would take a copy of your brain, and the Transmat would recreate you in the Peril Room, reimprinting your mind. Voila, eternal life. Similar happenings for your other selves." Barry looked suspicious. "How was I able to keep in touch with my other selves, even swap with them?" "The mind is a vast thing. One mind is capable of controlling so much with so little resource used. It was only really one mind in all those bodies. Infused with the reality itself, you were able to read every post, even on other newsgroups. As you were closest to our home reality, you maintained your sense of self in the net, even able to place yourself in your other selves, leaving a simple version of yourself running." "All right, then. Explain how I can stun people," challenged Barry. "As you appeared in newsgroups that didn't just speak English, others had to understand you. So, when you cursed, this reality replaces that with punctuation as comics do, and the Transmat Chamber placed that speech directly into the minds of all those who would be able to hear you. They thought they heard you speaking punctuation when they were really reading it, so they were stunned by understanding the words as punctuation." Barry nodded. It made sense. Sure, it was insane, but it still made sense. "So what you're saying is, I was put here so you could take over the net." "Yes, but it didn't work out that easy. You were independent. Couldn't control you." Barry beamed. "Tried to install someone else. The first time the HoloDecStations were used after your arrival, they were programmed to construct a mindless zombie for controlling. Only, that didn't work out either." "Those B1FFBOTS," gasped Barry. "They were supposed to happen? I thought I created them." "No, Mr. Knewbee. They would have happened anyway. It was just unfortunate that they were so stupid." "Finally, something we can agree on." "But now, power and experience has been established. I am ready to make my move." Jates stood up to leave, but Barry stayed him. "Even if you do manage to take control of my body, and I am going to do everything I can to stop you-" "I wouldn't expect you to do otherwise, Mr. Knewbee," Jates said. "-to stop you," said Barry again, trying to pretend that Jates hadn't interrupted him, "just how are you going to achieve your plans? I can't change things, just see how things are." "That is the point, Mr. Knewbee. You will become the eyes, ears and mouth of this operation, but there is someone else who will be the fist." "How?" "Do you remember your fight with Firewall?" Barry nodded. "Of course." "Then you must also remember the devices that she used." Barry clicked his fingers. "Of course. The firewalling machines she set up around America." "That's right. I am pleased to see you as eager about your death as I am." This sobered Barry up. "By accessing those machines, the net can be affected, can therefore changed, guided onto a new course. Dictatorship over what everyone says." "But, surely that's pure luck. There's no way that you could have gambled on Firewall setting those machines up." "Are you sure? Who do you think instigated the 'Good Times' virus? There is always a way, but I will tell you that this was particularly fortuitous." "But, who else is being used?" "That, Mr. Knewbee, is a question I'll let you ponder on while I am away." "And what of Dreck?" asked Barry. "What have you done to him?" "What a positively lovely idea," said Jates. "I'll bring him back with me. I'll need someone to help me carry the thing anyway. Good day, Mr. Knewbee." Jates left, and Barry sank into despondence. He let his mind range over recent posts on alt.comics.lnh, trying to find out who else was in trouble. That's when he came across a post by his author, indicating Fan.Boy's short lease on life, posted at the beginning of the year. It boded. It most definitely boded. _-~-_ Barry had only finished the various Christmas stories (and wondering how he managed to be in some of them when he was stuck in the Peril Room all this time), when Jates arrived back. He thought he knew who the other person was, but was distracted by the arrival. Jates backed into the train carriage, carrying something. Barry tried to make out what it was, it was familiar, but was distracted again when he saw Jates's helper. "Dreck!" Barry cried. "Hello Barry," said Dreck, looking rather worn out. "I am glad to see you again." "What's he done to you?" "Nothing," Dreck replied, helping Jates to set the thing on the table opposite Barry. It was the ornate box that they had found near the beginning of this adventure. "I was in blackness until I found myself in one of these rooms with this thing beside me." "We aren't in my mind at all, are we Jates?" asked Barry, accusingly. "No. We are not. But what happens here shall dictate what happens to your body from now on. It's a fight for your existance, Mr. Knewbee. Are you ready to begin?" "Just how do you expect to get it?" "With this." Jates raised the lid of the box easily enough, showing no signs of the trouble Barry had had. Light streamed out, a blaze of brillance, forcing Barry and Dreck to look away. Everything around them glowed while Jates retrieved something from inside. He lowered the lid back, and the luminesence died off. "And now, we begin." Barry turned to see what Jates was holding, and felt a tremor of trepidation. It was an action figure, like GI Joe or Barbie. But this one was of an LNHer: him. Jates held in his hand a Fan.Boy doll. "This is a symbol of everything that you are, here in this reality. Who possesses this, possesses you." "Then I'll have to take it back." Barry lunged for the doll just as the train took an abrupt swerve. Jates and Barry crashed together, going down, the doll falling out of Jates's hand and falling down the carriage way. Barry tried to keep Jates pinned, but Jates struggled ferociously. "Dreck," Barry called. "Get the doll." Dreck sidled passed them, but a leg kick by Jates sent him sprawling. Jates then twisted Barry, and forced him under a table. Standing up, Jates gave Dreck a vicious kick to the back of his skull, then trod over the fallen body. Jates picked up the doll as Barry scrambled out from under the table. He knelt down by Dreck. "If you've hurt him..." warned Barry. "Don't worry about him," said Jates, breathing heavily. "I think it's time you were taught a few lessons before the task is accomplished. Barry helped Dreck get into a seat, and held him until the dizzyness that Dreck felt passed. He pulled Dreck up, to help him out of the carriage, when a pain shot through his back. "I'm not finished with you, Mr. Knewbee," said Jates. "But when I have, you'll wish you'd never been born." Barry fell to his knees, twisting, as so was positioned to see Jates forcing a pin into the back of the Fan.Boy doll, on the same spot that the fire entered his body. Unfortunately, Barry wasn't in any position to do anything about it. "Leave him alone," cried Dreck, letting electricity play over his hand. "Uh uh, don't be so hasty," said Jates, holding the doll in front of him protectivily. "If you hit the doll, your lover boy gets a rather nasty burn." "Barry, what can I do?" asked Dreck, bending down to help his friend, but unable to do anything. "Argh," screamed Barry, as Jates stuck the pin into the doll's chest. "Za.. zap h.. him.." he gasped. "But I might hit the doll." "Aim fo... for.. his... his legs..." Dreck stood up, determination in his eyes. "Back off," warned Jates, keeping the doll between them. Dreck fired a short burst off, catching Jates unawares, and hitting his legs. Jates collapsed on the floor, letting the doll fall. Dreck jumped over Barry, and caught it, and quickly pulled the pin out. Jates sunk his teeth into Dreck's leg, and Dreck cried out. Jates's mouth burned as Dreck changed back into a ball of energy, but the doll Dreck was holding also suffered. Barry writhed on the ground, electricity pouring over the doll, and pain washing over him. The doll dropped to the floor, both it and Barry now ragged around the edges. Jates picked the doll back up. "Right. Now this ends." Barry, enraged, threw himself at Jates. _-~-_ The train rocketed through the countryside, passing trees, fields and hills, all with an unseeing eye. Through the window of one of the carriages two bodies flew. They bounced on the ground, doing one of them serious damage. The body that wore glasses, and lay there, wincing in agony. The other got up, and scrabbled in the dirt for something. "Mr. Knewbee, I'm afraid our partnership must come to an end. Although this is a cliche, in this case it is terminally true. There can be only one!" Jates twisted the head of the doll, and Barry's neck turned in sympathy. Jates held the head at right angles, letting pain flow through Barry's body. He moved his hand, but didn't get further as something thumped into him, and he fell onto the ground. "Leave him alone!" Dreck said. Jates turned over to see Dreck standing above him defiantly, fist poised. "Leave him alone now, or I'll supercharge your body." "You do, and I'll squeeze the life out of Mr. Knewbee with my dying spasms." Jates held the doll around the waist, pulling a tight grip on it, showing that he meant his words. "Do it," Barry said, gasping. "Or Dreck will burn your legs off. I'll survive long enough to pry the doll from your writhing body." "My dear Mr Knewbee," said Jates, sounding somewhat surprised. "But I want you to have this. I really do. I merely wanted to make it as unpleasant as possible for you before hand. As that simple pleasure will be denied me, I must submit to your wishes." Jates threw the doll to Barry, who caught it reflexively, unable to believe it was that easy. "I thought you said that whoever has the doll controls me." "Well, it's close. Whoever has the doll is controlled by it," Jates explained. Barry looked closely at the doll, seeing slight differences between it and himself. He didn't hear Dreck's stuttered worries. The doll was built in his image, but there was something wrong. There was no way he had glowing red eyes. And there was never any energy tendrils playing around his hands like that. The doll moved in his hand, and Barry looked on in surprise as it grew. Barry tries to release it, but found his hand now buried inside the doll. As it grew, more of him was sucked inside. Dreck grabbed the doll, pulling at it, was had to stop when Barry felt his arm being pulled off. The doll was the size of a child when Barry's torso started disappearing into it. Dreck looked on helpless as Barry's head was sucked inside. The rest of the body followed, and the doll grew more, until Barry's legs vanished into the interior. The doll jerked, and sprang alive, it's eyes glowing and energy tendrils dancing around his hands. Dreck's horror was complete when he saw the grin. _-~-_ Elsewhere, in a reality two universes away, a woman studied her computer screen and smiled. "At last," she whispered to the screen. "You're mine." _-~-_ Splash page: In the Peril Room, now deactivated. Standing on the bare floor are Dreck and Fan.Boy, Dreck looking at Fan.Boy in horror. Fan.Boy stands there, energy now playing over his entire body. His grin shows all his teeth, and the glow goes far beyond his eyes. In his left hand is the package from #14, and his other hand is a fist of triumph. "Revelation (III: 14)" by Jamas Enright -------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEXT ISSUE: Ha ha! It starts! The greatest take over of all time! And the instigator: Fan.Boy! Cross-overing with _Misfits_, be here for _Fan.Boy #16_: "Let the games begin." -------- Credits: All mine. Again. I gotta start using other characters.Back to the Index.