______ _________ _____ ____ ____ _______ _____ ___ ___ | | | | / _ \ | \| | | /\ \ / _ \ \ \ / / |BLiP| | |~~~~~ / / \ \ | | | | \/ | / / \ \ \ | / | | | ~~~~~| | ~~~ | | | ____ | / | | | | | | |#19 | | |~~~~~ | ___ | | | | | | | /\ ~| \ \ / / | | | | | | | | | | | |\ | | | | ~~ / \ ~ / | | ~~~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ [Fan.Boy, in spandex outfit, sits in the middle of a full lecture theater looking very surprised.] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Fan.Boy very slowly looked around him. He was finally back home, back in his own home universe. His senses were assailed with the sound of seats creaking, people breathing next to him, the particular way the light tired his eyes, the way his clothing felt on his skin, the drone of the lecturer's voice, the feel of the pen in his hand, and of his arm leaning on the lecture book. After the non-trivial descriptions of the Looniverse, Fan.Boy felt himself drowning in the sudden inflow of information, and dizziness swept over him, causing him to drop his head onto his arm. "I know," said a voice next to him. "He does go on a bit." Fan.Boy waited a few minutes, letting himself become use to the sound of breathing, the itch in his ear, and the ache in his hand. Once he restored himself, he dared to look up at who had spoken. The first thing he noticed was short, dirty blond hair, but the first thing that anyone ever sees when they look at someone was their hair. Oddly strange, but true when you actually start noticing that sort of thing. Below the hair was a face that was familiar to him, but not one that he could place immediately. The desolutory expression of boredom was something he could sympathise with, however. Fan.Boy sat for a few minutes, not paying much attention, but working out precisely where he was. Looked like CB131, so the doors were... there. What the hell was the time? Fan.Boy turned his head around, trying to remember where the clock was, and finally spotted it. Aha, ten thirty. Still another twenty minutes to go. Fan.Boy licked his lips for a few moments before remembering what the hell he was doing there. That's right. He had been ousted out of his own mind, by... a blankness was in his mind, and he probed it, hoping for something to reveal itself. Dr. Bill Jates. Now there's a name that meant something. And Dreck. Of course, how could he forget Dreck! Fan.Boy wondered how he was, and hoped he was all right. In fact, Fan.Boy wondered what the hell was going on. He had been pushed out of his mind. That much was obvious, and now he was home.. in his old body.. his old life! William! That's it, that's who was sitting next to him. Fan.Boy resisted an urge to hug him, knowing that William would never understand. Fan.Boy wasn't even sure if he did. Oh wow, he could see his parents again! His sister. He wondered if she was still going out with that jerk from her school. He'd finally get a chance to find out. People started moving around him, and Fan.Boy realised that the lecture was over. Grabbing his books, Fan.Boy stood up but had no idea of what to do next. The Barry that had been here had spent over a year, learning things, having holidays, and going back to university again. Fan.Boy had no idea of what courses he was even taking. "See you around," said William, moving away. "Gotta get to my next lecture." "Yeah," said Fan.Boy, trying to pretend he knew what he was doing. "See you." Looking down, Fan.Boy spotted what must be his bag, and hauled it up. He looked in it but couldn't immediately see a diary. As other people were now coming in for the next lecture, Fan.Boy didn't waste time looking for it right now, and just got out of there. In the corridor outside, Fan.Boy dropped down against the opposite wall, and let people walk past him while he investigated his own bag. Lunch. Other books. Aha, a diary. Flipping past the first page, he looked at the timetable. That's when he realised that he had absolutely no idea of what day it was. According to the timetable it was either Tuesday of Friday. Those were the only days he had ten o'clock lectures on. And neither day had something at eleven, so he was safe for a while. What to do, what to do. Try to fit back in this lifestyle, after what he had went through? Or try to get back to the LNH, where _he_ had spent the past year of his life, and let the real Barry Knewbee of this universe get on with his? As much as it pained him to think it, he realised that he would have to go back. He had no idea of how Barry lived now, or even if he was still at home, was now flatting, or what. Then again, Fan.Boy also had no idea of how to return to the LNH. He wasn't even precisely sure how he got here. Just something had blocked him from being in any of his incarnations in the net, so he was bounced to the next place he knew, a place he really wanted to be. Home. But none of that solved the problem of what he would do now. ITS Computer lab! That was it. Barry should still have an account, so Fan.Boy could log on and see what the hell was happening. He might also see some of his old friends. If they were still friends now. That thought sobered him. Fan.Boy couldn't be sure of anyone. He knew he had to leave Barry's life as untouched as possible. For that reason, he wouldn't be able to meet anyone Barry knew. Especially if Barry had a girl-friend or boy-friend now. Although he wouldn't mind meeting him or her. Who knew how far they had gone? Fan.Boy chuckled mentally at the concept. Standing up, Fan.Boy slung the bag over his shoulder. He couldn't return home, as he didn't know where home was. He couldn't go to the comp labs, because he didn't know who might be there. Fan.Boy looked in the diary again. Comp courses and math courses. Without anything else to do, Fan.Boy decided to go check to see if he had any assignments to pick up. May as well see how Barry's doing. Fan.Boy left the corridor, and walked over to the Cotton B/C stairwell, and walked up to the third floor. This floor held the Maths Department and the Computer Science Department, although the Comp Sci computer labs were on the second floor. Checking the diary for the actual courses, Fan.Boy rummaged around in the Assignment Return boxes, and came up with one assignment. 13/20. Oh yay. As he walked towards the Comp Sci department, a colourful display met his eye, and Fan.Boy turned to see the Mathematics Photo Directory, housing the pictures of the main members of the Maths Department. Fan.Boy smirked at a few, but didn't recognise some of them. Guess there had been changes. Fan.Boy walked by the entrance of the Comp Sci department, on his way down to the second floor where those assignment return boxes were kept, and spotted another photo display inside. On a whim, he entered the department, and gawped at the photos. And spotted a photo of Brittany's Aunt JoDean. _-~-_ The Ultimate Ninja sat in his office, and desperately tried to stop himself from despairing. Kid Kirby had taken a look at the rusted flight.thingees, and had announced the problem reversible. The flight.thingees would be back to perfect working order. In a month's time. Fine. Wonderful. All that they had to do was hold the city back from its own destruction with nothing more than a pair of hopeful hands for a month. True, other cities were now helping with their efforts, but without the flexibility of the flight.thingees, it was a long and much harder struggle. It certainly forced the cities of the nation to reassess their beliefs in the LNH. If the LNH's own city couldn't stand with their help, what chance did other cities have? The telephone rang. Automatically, the ninja reached out and picked it up. "Hello?" he said. "I believe I can help," the person at the other end said. The Ultimate Ninja immediately tensed. He recognised that voice. "What makes you think we need your help?" "Who else can you turn to? What other force in this sad, depleted country could offer you aid?" That was true, the ninja thought grimly. Of course, it was due to them that no other force was capable of offering help. "And what is it exactly that you want?" the ninja asked cautiously. "Protection," replied the voice. "No, not from anything you might suddenly hope could threaten us, but from Fan.Boy. While he's there, I don't think any help could be guaranteed." "I'm not sure we can protect you," said Ultimate Ninja, being honest for a change. There wasn't much point in lying. If anyone knew their situation, they certainly would. "We can't even find him." "How are you looking for him?" "I've asked Kid Kirby to locate him. If anyone can, he can." "True enough, but if he can't, you're in trouble." "We're already in trouble. Question is: Do you want to join us?" "Are you that prepared to ask for help?" "Do you really think you'll be able to give it that easily?" The Ultimate Ninja smiled behind his mask. "We have a few LNHers here who would be quiet happy to wipe Queen Enterprises from the face of the earth." "Ah yes, Inacoustic Kid and Marsha Burgenstock." The ninja was totally unsurprised that the Queen knew that they were here. "You'll just have to keep that from them. As you did It-Star." "Speaking of which, are you going to take that back?" "What? And deprive Organic Lass? I'm not that cruel." Privately, the ninja thought that she was that cruel to leave it here as a constant reminder. "But still, perhaps you are right," the Queen conceded. "I'll send you a delivery instead." "Of?" "Replacement flight.thingees and net.thingees." "Where did you get..?" "The plans? The equipment? Surely, you should know better than to ask." "Fine. When?" "One hour. Keep a look out. If Fan.Boy knows what they are..." "We'll be ready." _-~-_ Brittany had shown Fan.Boy a picture of her Aunt JoDean before. Just after she had tried to wipe out Net.ropolis. In fact, Brittany had shown Fan.Boy all her family. In a slide show. It took an hour. But, still, it didn't explain why there was a picture of a rather pleasant faced woman with glasses in a department that was universes away from the LNH. Fan.Boy read the caption. Professor Jill Bates. Oh. Now things came together in Fan.Boy's mind, and he didn't like the end result. Jates had said that Fan.Boy knew him. Or rather, her. Hang on, if Professor Bates was here, and Dr Jates was there, how did Aunt JoDean fit into it? It was obvious now that Jates and Bates were dimensional counterparts, but, according to this photo, so was Aunt JoDean. But that meant more than one counterpart in a universe... D'oh! The answer clicked. Peril Room construct. Professor Bates must have created Jates to interface with him. But, the power required to do that, to be somewhere else while still universes away.. Fan.Boy quickly noted her office room, and left at a run. Down a flight of stairs, through the glass doors, hard left. Second door. Fan.Boy kicked the door, angry at the thought of Bates playing with him all that time. "Come," said a voice within. Fan.Boy opened the door and saw the menace that had destroyed his life. Yep. She looked exactly like Aunt JoDean, down to a white lab coat that heroically saved the rest of her clothes underneath from staining by leaping in the way first. "Ah, Barry. About time you got here." Fan.Boy wasn't positive, but from Brittany's description, he was pretty sure that Aunt JoDean never had that icy note in her voice. Or that look of embittered determination on her face. "What the hell are you after?" snarled Fan.Boy. "Take a seat," Professor Bates said, taking a small gun out of a coat pocket. "Now. And shut the door behind you." "Ah, like that, is it?" Fan.Boy said, complying. "It works so much better this way. We all know where we stand." Settling in his seat, Fan.Boy asked, "Do you have any idea about what you've done?" Bates laughed. It wasn't pleasant. "Of course I do. Do you?" Fan.Boy shrugged. "You've taken over the net," he said. "Oh, I've done so much more than that," Bates replied. "I've taken over the world." "How?" Fan.Boy was unable to stop himself from asking. "I've been watching the various realities that the net reflects playing themselves out," said Bates, tapping away with one hand at a terminal whose screen Fan.Boy couldn't see. "Through your other selves. Most fascinating, but highly egotistical. Your Ultimate Ninja is certain that the threat is against the net. Being in one of the net realities, I suppose it is easy to understand that viewpoint, but rather small minded of him." Bates turned to give him her full attention. "To us, the net is no more than computers networking together, but they see it as more than that, but it isn't, really. In this universe, people read the net, read newsgroups, get information, discuss things. Post spam," she said, amused. "But now, I can post whatever I want in whatever newsgroup I want. Through you, or, at least your other selves. But, more than that, through Censor Girl and Firewall's firewalls, I get to change what has been posted. I can change information people read, only let them see what I want them to. Make them think what I want them to." Despite himself, Fan.Boy was fascinated. "I control what people know, and by that, I control people. Your other self, Faq Boy, knew that." Bates lent forward. "I have now become Big Sister." The grin she gave Fan.Boy sent chills up his spine. "Why? And what are you going to do now?" Bates lent back, relaxing. "Why not? It was something to do. To prove that I could do something they couldn't." Fan.Boy could hear bitterness in her voice. "Who?" he asked breathlessly. "I told you about me, in a rather abstract sense. I was a powerful person in America. One of the best computer programmers in the country. But they didn't like me. Thought that hacking into the government supposedly secret defense files were wrong. Hah. Those files were a trap, to see who got too good for them. And so I was exiled. Can you believe that? Exiled from America. "I ended up here, in New Zealand, the arse end of the world. As a teacher. Me, who once controlled bank accounts, now left in nowhere to rust away. I wasn't going to put up with that. The government thinks they have control? Pah. I now control the entire world. And they can't. Let them suck on that." Fan.Boy was puzzled over something. "When did you tell me that?" "Back on the train, just before you were taken over." Fan.Boy bent his mind to accessing alt.comics.lnh. He could still do that. He borrowed information from the Barrys in newsgroups, not placed himself there. "Hey, what happened to #15?" "Oh, that's the one I'm referring to. It was posted, but I made sure no-one could read it. Easy enough." Fan.Boy continued to amass information. He got to #16. "DRECK!" "Oh yes. So tiresome." "YOU !^&*@^&!$!!!" Bates smiled, not in the least bit stunned. "That wont work here. I've already explained why." Foregoing the use of other powers, Fan.Boy went for the direct approach and flung himself, in rage, at Professor Bates. She knocked him out with the gun in one hit. _-~-_ Organic Lass was waiting when Inacoustic Kid woke up. She had already printed out his options and possible solutions to the problem of his permanent silencing field, and now gave it to him. Inacoustic Kid read the sheet slowly and carefully. This was his future at stake here, never a matter to be treated lightly. His brow furrowed in concentration, and Organic Lass chewed her lip as she watched. Finally, he turned the sheet over, although it was blank on the other side. He looked around for something, and Organic Lass worked out that he wanted a pen. She fetched him one, and he wrote three words on the piece of paper. "Fetch Kid Kirby." _-~-_ High above the Med Lab, a strange procession was taking place. New flight.thingees were arriving, and space had to be made for them in the hanger bay. Most of them were parked on the roof, waiting for room to be made. The most easiest solution was to push the previous wrecks out and let them fall to the ground. While this would provide plenty of space, it wasn't very safe for those below. Ultimate Ninja made very sure that people were well away before attempting that maneuver, but there was something very satisfying about tonnes of metal thumping into the ground from a great height. From then on, moving the crafts into the bay had been fairly easy. Queen Enterprises provided pilots, who, when finished, all departed in another flight.thingee that had come along specially to ferry them back. Despite harsh questions, the pilots refused to give out any information whatsoever about their employers. The last flight.thingee was locked into place when a crack of thunder rolled over the sky. The Ultimate Ninja looked up to see Barry descending on a pillar of light, his delight evident. _-~-_ When Fan.Boy woke up, he found himself tied back in the chair. He struggled a bit, but quickly found that the rope was securely fastened. He wasn't going anywhere. Rage still flooded his body, but now gave away to sorrow. Oh, Dreck. He blinked a few times, trying to gain control over his emotions. He had to stop this bitch, and he needed all his faculties. "You bitch," he spat. Professor Bates was typing, the computer monitor reflecting off her glasses. "Uh uh, Barry. Be careful what you say. You have now become rather... extraneous to current demands." Fan.Boy wrenched at the ropes again, more for the look of it than anything else. "Oh yeah? When was I ever necessary?" "At the beginning, when I needed to place someone in the net realities," Bates said. "Why me?" Fan.Boy stopped struggling, actually interested. "I needed someone who was already interested in the LNH," Bates explain, still not looking at him. "According to your .newsrc, you kept yourself up-to-date as often as possible." "You've been in my account?" Fan.Boy considered such things sacrilege. "Of course," Bates snorted. "I can do anything. Haven't you worked that out by now?" "Oh. Of course." "Also, you were gullible, foolish, and despite a modicum of intelligence, not very wise." "Hey!" "But that made you perfect," Bates said, smiling sweetly in a sickening way. "When you set yourself up as Fan.Boy, I was delighted. Couldn't have asked for a more mindless fool. You kept searching for answers, didn't you? How did you get there? Why were there so many of you? It never occurred to you that it was all part of a much bigger plan." "I'm not _that_ paranoid," Fan.Boy said. "You should be." "So, what happens now? You've got control of the net, and of the world through that. Congratulations. What's next?" Fan.Boy eyed the room, hoping to spot something useful. There were two desks, arranged in a kind of L ofrmation. The terminal was on one, taking up most of the room. A Power Mac, with a 15 inch screen. Impressive. Beside it was stacked computer manuals, but there was a touch of dust around that suggested that they weren't all that necessary to her. The top one had a mug on it, but if there was anything in it, it had gone cold long ago. "I've been thinking I might play a bit," Bates said. "Making people think a few UFO sightings have made." "Spam," said Fan.Boy. "Every newsgroup has their own net.celebrities, yes? Well known and respected member of that net community?" That was true, thought Fan.Boy. Even alt.comics.lnh had several. "Well, if those people started posting, saying they've been seeing UFOs, how believable would that be?" "I see," replied Fan.Boy. "The great all mighty ruler uses ultimate power to play a practical joke." The other desk was covered with pieces of paper, collections of assignments, and various bit of administrivia, as it was called, that resulted in any bureaucratic environment. One pile had obviously spilled, giving the desk a uniform white colour. If there was a telephone there, it was completely buried. There was a patch without paper on it, but that space was taken up by a fax machine. "Ah, but that's just the beginning, just to make sure people are paying attention. After that, I've going to turn everyone against the American government. Those smarmy bastards who thought they could get rid of me." Bates paused, studying something, and Fan.Boy turned his attentions to the shelves that lined the office. Again, paper and manuals comprised most of the lack of space. Here and there ringbinders poked out, their contents sometimes visible as the paper within got bent and skewed. "Speaking of paying attention, your friends back in the LNH seem to be drawing attention to themselves. They've gotten more flight.thingees in. How dare they." Fan.Boy grinned. The fight wasn't going to be over that quickly. But something nagged at him. "How do you do that? As you said, to us the net realities are no more than networking computers. How do you affect what happens in those realities?" "I make _very_ sure the reality conforms to my needs. It becomes what I want to happen." "Yes, but _how_?" "I change the base of reality. I alter the Source Code." Fan.Boy's mouth dropped open, his brain in shock. The Source Code. The great untapped power that no-one could reach, not even Acton Lord, and no-one had tried harder than him. "You shouldn't be so surprised," Bates said, after flicking a glance at him. "I told you I was the best. To us, the Source Code is no more than simple machine code instructions, malleable if you know any kind of virus programming at all." "But the net is spread over hundreds of different kinds of machines," said Fan.Boy, exaggerating only slightly. "There's no way one virus could affect all of them." "No, but many viruses, tailored for each computer, could. Oh, nothing big, just a tweak here and there. Just enough to fuse the Peril Room systems with the HoloDecStations and the Transmat Chambers, just enough to reprogram them to my needs. Just enough to be able to create an interface between the LNH reality and external devices." "Like?" "Like, creating an interface to allow Censor Girl to interact with the firewall devices that Firewall established. Unfortunately, those firewalls are only accessible from the LNH, so I needed a pawn there. Censor Girl, who was half machine already, was intelligent enough to be useful, while being stupid enough for me to control. I brought her back online with another kind of virus, and have been using her since." "That's quite an achievement," Fan.Boy admitted. "Thank you. But that isn't going to save you." Fan.Boy scanned the floor, still looking for a way out. The floor was fairly clear, except for the odd piece of paper that had floated down. There was a dustbin, a bag, obviously Professor Bates's, a heater, a laser printer tucked under a desk?, and... Fan.Boy blinked. Aha, a chance after all. Bates's last words sunk in. "'Save me'? What's going to happen to me?" Fan.Boy asked, knowing the answer was not going to be one he really wanted to hear. "Unfortunately, I can't kill you. As backward as this country is, I still can't get away with murder. So, instead, I'm going to send you back," Bates said. Fan.Boy considered the proposition from every angle he could think of, looking for a bad side. "So?" he eventually said. "Where do you think you'll end up?" Fan.Boy shrugged, as much as he was able to. "In the LNH?" "You can't. I've already got a much better Barry there. No, instead you'll end up in some mad little reflection of the LNH, some distorted area that you'll be stuck in forever." "And then I flip over to the LNH," Fan.Boy said smugly. "Not if I send you somewhere dangerous, somewhere with, oh, I dunno, acid for air, so that you continually die." "Then I get reborn in the LNH Peril Room." "Not if I reset your home to that place. Remember, I created you, and I can do what I like with you." Bates switched away from Fan.Boy, and over to the monitor. "And now, I'll just deal with a few certain irritating others." _-~-_ Barry descended, watching those below vainly trying to prepare themselves for any move he might make. Barry let the air around him fizzle with energy, just to show off. Concentrating, he removed all the air around the LNHQ. Barry guffawed as he watched the efforts of those who couldn't breath, their gasping and clutching at their throats. Inside of ten seconds, they'll all be dead. Stars flashed in Barry's vision as something crashed into his head. Abandoning the LNHQ below, he turned to find a fist connecting with his nose. Barry tumbled backwards, flailing around himself to get a grip on something. Eventually his movements ceased, and he was able to right himself in time to get slashed across his chest by a razor sharp wing. Gritting his teeth in anger, Barry placed a block of plasma around himself, which burnt Kismet as she moved in for her next attack. Barry smiled. His turn. _-~-_ "That irritable bird woman," muttered Bates to herself. "About time I did something about her." She typed something. "Let's see how she likes having her insides separated from her outsides." "No," yelled Fan.Boy. "You can't." He tried to move the chair, but ended up doing a very silly looking jumping up and down on the spot. "Ah, Barry, but I can. And that is the point. Subtlety is all very well, but there comes a time when you just want to reach out and give the universe a big wedgy." Fan.Boy stopped his movements for a moment as he considered the Professor's possible state of mind. Then again, if she was capable of taking over the net, she must certainly be brilliant enough to be insane. "I wont let you go through with this," he cried, hoping more to distract the Professor than to actually stop her, although that would certainly have been more preferable. "You really have become most tiresome," said Bates, pulling her gun out again. "It looks like I will have to kill you after all. Oh well, sometimes these things can't be helped." Fan.Boy rocked the chair wildly, and ended up standing it on two legs. He fell back onto the floor again as Professor Bates fired, but his inertia kept him moving, and so all that was hit was his arm. "Gaah!" he screamed, rocking back the other way. "Will you stay still?" Bates said, cross. "It's very hard to kill you when you don't want me to." No kidding, thought Fan.Boy, as the chair finally went over. He crashed on the ground right next to, as he had wildly hoped, the overloaded four way plug he spotted before. "Ah," said Bates, suddenly pleased. "Much better." With one last wiggle, Fan.Boy managed to move forward a vital few centimeters, and stuck his tongue on two different exposed contacts. "Uurrrrkkkkk," he juddered. "What the?"said Bates, then jumped as a power spike ran over her monitor. "Get away from there." Another power spike, this one too big to contain, hit the monitor, causing it to explode. "Aargh," cried Bates, falling to the floor, a large piece of glass in her arm. Fan.Boy was still unable to get away, and electricity coursed through him, moving in ways it wasn't supposed to. With a loud bang, the computer also exploded, sending flames spurting over the walls. Next door, a bang also resounded as feedback caught up there. Inside of one minute, all the computers on the floor exploded due to too much feedback and faulty wiring. In three minutes, the electrical systems on the floors above and below also caught fire. In five minutes, something vital was ruptured. Splash page: View from outside the Cotton Building as it, on all five floors simultaneously, bursts into an amazing fireball. "The One with the Power." by Jamas Enright -------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEXT ISSUE: Hah. That was fun. Is there a next issue? Of course there is. This guy can't stay dead, can he? Find out more in _Fan.Boy #20_: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Credits: -------- Umm, lesse.. Kismet belongs to Jenn. Ultimate Ninja to wReam Organic Lass to Rebecca and all others are mine, I think.Back to the Index.