Master Blaster carefully inserted the cleaning rod into the gun barrel, and ran the tip of the rod slowly over the grooves inside. On the bench around him were scattered several pieces of a gun that, when fully assembled, was one of the dangerous personal devices that could be owned by an individual without a special dispensation permit that had to be signed by several world governments, most of whom were fighting each other (but then, he had some of those weapons too). Beside the gun parts were an equally extensive array of cleaning rods, rags, fluids and other paraphernalia that would have made even Squeaky Clean drool. Although he could be amazingly cavalier about some things in his life, like food, woman, feelings, there were somethings that had to be taken extremely seriously. To whit, his gun collection, which already outstripped any banana republic you care to mention. Yes, his abilities could allow him to pull any gun at random out of the air and cause major collateral damage (and for some guns, that was their point), but there was something satisfying about taking a gun apart and getting it into perfect working order. There were even times during this ritual when he had to remind himself to breathe, his concentration otherwise on matters of more importance. Removing the cleaning rod, Master Blaster placed it carefully on the bench, and picked up the eye dropper. Holding the barrel in one hand, Master Blaster raised the eye dropper to one end, and readied himself to squeeze. The fluid inside was not just any lubricant, and the fact that it was extremely rare and expensive wasn't the point of it. This lubricant could virtually eliminate all friction from inside the gun, but only a few small drops were needed. Too much and, unless the barrel was cleaned all over again, the liquid could get inside the gun workings and interfere with proper operation. This moment required the utmost precision and care... "Master Blaster, just the man..." A hand clamped onto MB's shoulder, causing him to a) jerk upright in surprise (although the hand effortlessly held him down so he didn't move), and b) squeeze the eye dropper to emptiness. Fortunately, this wasn't the first time MB had done this, so the dropper only contained a single drop in the first place. Still, he placed the barrel down gently on a clean piece of cloth before turning around to glare at... "Er, hi, UN...how's tricks?" Master Blaster swallowed. He could see the ninja's eyes, and they were happy, which could only mean... "I have a job for you," Ultimate Ninja replied. "Well, I'm rather busy at the moment, perhaps next week some time..." "You. Now. I can still remember what happened during the Inhilator Invasion, so unless you'd like to revisit that-" "Right. Okay. What's the deal?" Master Blaster hastily reached for a rag to wipe his hands on, before busying himself spreading a sheet over his bench, as much to protect the gun as to avoid the ninja's eyes. "You are running an errand for me. It seems that someone sent me a package, but they didn't cover the costs of it properly, and it's waiting at the post office to be picked up." "You mean...?" "Yes, that's right. There was insufficient postage!" "Oh, man, didn't I just do that storyline? That whole deal with taxes and time travel and..." "Yes, but this author wants to do his take on it, and you've been nominated." "Right, so at least there'll be a lot of whacky highjinks and I'll get to say "Lame, frickin' lame" a lot?" UN shrugged. "Hard to say. But you do get a partner, not because I don't trust you, but because I don't trust you." "Well, I can see how...hey!" "Tell you what, we'll leave it up to chance. The first person we meet, they'll be the co-star of this adventure." Groaning, but resigned, Master Blaster allowed (although he didn't really have any choice in the matter) Ultimate Ninja to pull him from the sub-basement he had taken over for his gun cleaning, and up the stairs. "And so," announced the master of ninjitsu as they approached the foyer, "today you'll be paired with..." They took the final step and saw... NO-ONE! The foyer was completely empty! Ultimate Ninja checked his watch with no attempt to disguise his annoyance. "I'm sure I told Special Bonding Boy to meet me here..." Master Blaster wandered over to the reception desk and peered at the roster list. "According to this there was a food fight scheduled to spontaneously break out in the cafeteria a few minutes ago...aw man, I missed a food fight!" "To the cafeteria!" The ninja announced, pushing a reluctant Master Blaster before him. "And today's lucky contestant is..." The cafeteria was caked in food, plates and dishes were scattered in pieces, something sticky slid down the walls, and unidentifiable brown lumps slowly ate their way through the tables. Oh, and it was completely empty. Ultimate Ninja and Master Blaster stared at the scene, then turned to each other and shrugged. "Looks like they never got to the food fight." "Looks fine to me." "But there must be someone around somewhere," the ninja growled. "How about I just short cut this and go get WikiBoy," the gun maestro offered, taking a step away. "Not so fast. The author doesn't want Tom Russell to find out he wrote this until too late, so WikiBoy won't be making an appearance." "Damn, and I was going to turn him into a ballerina, too..." Then, at that rather innocuous moment in ran...no, not Bad Timing Boy, but that would be most people's first guesses, but a girl in a school uniform screaming, "What's that about pandas you cheery throwing..." Seeing no-one there but Ultimate Ninja and Master Blaster she quickly tried to come to a halt, but slid on a patch of melted chocolate and couldn't stop until she was right in front of them. "Oh, hi guys, we were just..." her voice trailing off, she quickly trust her hands behind her, ostensibly to hide what she was carrying, but as it was a hockey stick that was nearly bigger than her, she couldn't quite pull it off. "Oh, Footnote Girl," Ultimate Ninja said, his voice suddenly soft and generous, sending chills through both the listeners, "Just the person I was looking for." "What? Er, no, I'm sure you meant-" Ultimate Ninja reached out and took Footnote Girl by the shoulder. Very firmly. "I want you to go with Master Blaster and pick up a parcel for me." Footnote Girl looked at Master Blaster, who was studiously looking elsewhere. "Pick up a parcel? With *him*?" "Excellent, so glad you agree. Now, off you go." Immediately deciding they didn't have an option (other than ones involving katanas), Master Blaster and Footnote Girl sighed and headed for the main door. As they walked, Master Blaster draped an arm around Footnote Girl's shoulders. "So, how you doing?" "I am still carrying a hockey stick," Footnote Girl replied coldly. Master Blaster's arm dropped away. "Good point. Just checking." "However did I end up in this?" Master Blaster shrugged. "Don't look at me. I'm just here because of something I did last year." "Oh. I was wondering why I had this. I think it's yours." Footnote Girl passed a footnote to Master Blaster. [In _War Without Worlds #2_, Master Blaster threatened Ultimate Ninja at gun point. UN decided to bide his time before striking back.] "Ah. Right. Thanks." After watching them leave, Ultimate Ninja turns to the reader and announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, Blue Light Productions now presents: MASTER BLASTER in INSUFFICIENT POSTAGE co-starring FOOTNOTE GIRL." The postal office was a large edifice that could have easily passed for a Gothic cathedral in another lifetime. It wasn't the stone bulwark, it wasn't the gargoyles perched precariously at the edges, ready to topple onto unsuspecting passersby at less than a moments notice, it wasn't even the perpetual storm clouds that circled high overhead, crackling with shafts of lightening. It was the stone bulwark AND the gargoyles AND the storm clouds. "Talk about 'Glom of Nit'," Footnote Girl muttered. "What?" replied Master Blaster uninterestedly. Right now he could almost swear he was growing hackles that were raising at the feel of this situation. Footnote Girl sighed and threw him another footnote, but MB didn't notice so it bounced off him to fall and lie in the gutter. [Footnote Girl comes from alt.fan.pratchett, so of course knows about _Going Postal_.] "Are we going in or what?" Footnote Girl asked, reaching for the steel barricaded, triple reinforced gateway that was otherwise known as a 'door'. "Hey, me first," said Master Blaster, pushing the Annotater Extraordinaire out of the way. "It's my story after all." Fortunately impervious to the daggers shooting from Footnote Girl's eyes, he pulled the ring handle, causing the door to slowly creak open, and entered. Inside Master Blaster found himself in a large room with a concrete floor and a high vaulted ceiling. Lining the walls were large windows that were covered in grime but otherwise allowed bright sunlight to push through causing alternating shafts of illumination and darkness. Tables dotted the floor like stone mushrooms, containing bays for letter writing (as evinced by pen holders with no pens), as well as those roller things you can use to lick the stamps for you although they're usually covered with more mould than that cheesecake from the millennium party Domestic Lad had found last week behind the radiator. There were displays of stamps available, but they had been thoughtfully locked away inside steel cages against the consideration that someone might actually want to use one. At the far end of the room, or 'hall', there was the postal counter. The Gungho Gunner could make out two people moving around behind the desk (making it one of the better staffed post offices), although there were three queues. Gingerly approaching closer, Master Blaster saw that the only reason the third line was still there was because the cobwebs held the skeletons in place. Grimly Master Blaster looked carefully and spotted the "Express Lane" sign above them. Yep, sometimes irony in the LNHiverse was quite predictable. "All right, everybody, listen up!" Master Blaster announced. "I'm here from the Legion of Net.Heroes, and I have important business here, so if you would all just move to one side..." The only reaction he received was drawing glares from some of the more animated patrons. The rest ignored him, and there was no sign the people behind the counter even heard him. Narrowing his eyes, Master Blaster formed a 58 gauge shotgun [Yes, I know there is no such thing as a 58 gauge shotgun, but if Master Blaster wants a 58 gauge shotgun, Master Blaster gets a 58 gauge shotgun] and pointed it straight up. At he squeezed down on the trigger a hand gripped his arm. "In the name of Bel-Shamroth, what *are* you doing?" Footnote Girl hissed at him. "What? We need to get their attention," MB pointed out. "Yes, but not give them heart attacks!" "If there's a better way than violence, I don't want to know about it." "Look, just take that queue other there, I'll take this one. One of them has to move faster than the other, probably mine as you are the 'main star', as you put it, so we'll be done shortly." Grumbling, MB let the shotgun disperse, then stalked over to his designated line. While waiting, he started with folding his arms crossly, then moved onto sucking his teeth in irritation, then changed to tapping his foot in annoyance. Unfortunately, that only took 20 seconds and the line hadn't moved. Glancing over at Footnote Girl, he double taked...double took?...double takened?...whatever, insert your own variant of the verb here, he saw that her line had halved already. Groaning, Master Blaster turned around to see that the old man directly in front of him had turned around to face him. "I say...I say...I say..." the old man began. "What up, gramps?" "I say, sonny, can ya help me? I brought along me jar of pennies so's I can buy some stamps, but it's getting a little heavy." With an impending sense of dread, Master Blaster cast his eyes downwards until he encountered a large glass jar that was nearly bigger than the man's chest. Inside he could see lots and lots of little copper coloured pennies...that would takes years and years to count...years and years and years and... On the other hand... "Yes, let me help you with...whoops!" Master Blaster reached down and..."accidently" slipped while handling the jar. They both watch, MB with fascination and the old man with horror, as the jar tumbled through the air in an ugly arc of dynamics until...*crash*, an explosion of tiny pieces of metal and not an inconsiderable number of pieces of small glass burst over the post office floor, the tiny masses ricocheting far and wide. "Money on the floor!" Master Blaster shouted, taking a step back. "There's money on the floor!" He looked away for a moment as the orderly line of people suddenly transformed under the overwhelming sense of avarice and instant greed into ravening monsters that scoured the floor for any and all pennies they could clutch in their tight little fists. "That's my money," the old man complained. "Give it back...that penny I got in 1939 at the World Trade Fair...oh, leave that penny alone...ooo, that's my teeth." Master Blaster looked at the mess he had wrought, and nodded appreciatively. "Nice." Skirting around the pile of people, he sauntered up to the counter, whistling in an off-hand manner that completely failed to appear unrehearsed. He could also feel an angry gaze from Footnote Girl's direction on his head, but that just made him smirk all the more. Leaning on the counter, he peered at the frumpy woman who, in his opinion, a) could stand to lose a few pounds, and b) could stand to gain a few cup sizes. "Hiya, toots, what time you get off from here?" "Sir, it is the established policy of this establishment to not withstand any form of sexual harassment of staff or employees, and not to withstand any or all stamp-related jokes, including and not exclusive to entendres relating to "licking" and putting things in my "slot", and if you continue in this manner, as per the latest postal worker union approval guidelines, I have permission to use the postal worker union approved .270 Winchester to blow your balls off." "Right. Nice gun. Okay...well, that's pretty much all my material gone, so I'm here to pick up a package for Ultimate Ninja." "Do you have any identification?" "Don't you recognise me? Master Blaster? Heartthrob of a million women? Nominated for Favourite Supporting Character in the 2005 Raccies?" "I must have missed that issue," the women replied frostily. A hand slapped an LNH membership card on the desk. "How about this?" Footnote Girl asked, not acknowledging MB's presence. The woman stared at the card for a moment before looking at Footnote Girl. "And for whom is the package for?" "Ultimate Ninja." "And from whom is this package from?" "Um...we weren't told." "Then how do you know the package is for him?" "Because he told us to come down here and get it for him." "I'm afraid you can't pick up a package sent to someone else without a signed permission form witnessed by someone here at the post office." "But if he could come here for you to witness him signing, he could pick the package up himself!" Footnote Girl pointed out. "Right, we did it your way, now it's time for a man to take charge," Master Blaster proclaimed, bearing up well under the sudden onslaught of death glares from the two females. He brought his hand up and by the time it was pointing at the postal worker, he was holding a P97 trained on her forehead. "I believe it's time to admire my package." The postal worker didn't look impressed with Master Blaster's piece, held up her hand and simply snapped her fingers. The response was immediate. From a back room, bodies suddenly filed out, quick stepping men and women in the postal worker standard outfit of short-sleeved pale blue shirt, knee length shorts, blue caps, and all carried Beretta Cx4 Storm Carbines. Which, after a only a moment of taking up position around the counter woman, were all pointed at Master Blaster's head. MB gave out a long low whistle. "Nice. They've only just come out." Footnote Girl nudged him, not wanting to make any large sudden moves that might possibly, just maybe, be misinterpreted. "I think they'd rather you put your gun down than admire theirs." "Yeah, with guns like those you'd better take them seriously." "No, you'd better take them seriously," Footnote Girl hissed. "Put the damn gun down." "Not until they give me the package." "They are going to shoot you unless you put the DAMN GUN DOWN!" "You know, the tendency of the average postal worker to actually go crazy isn't that much. In fact, when you look at the postal system as a whole, the percentage of those who 'go postal' is really only a tiny percent. You're much more likely to be shot by a taxi driver." "He's right," the counter woman added. "The whole 'going postal' scenario has been way over publicized, and we'd much rather people focussed on our people friendly policies, like our latest 'lose your home, get a free stamp' offer we are currently trialling." Footnote Girl blinked a few times, unable to believe that this was happening. "That really wasn't the point." "Beside, they're not really going to shoot me," Master Blaster added confidently. "I'm not going to shoot them. There really isn't anything to worry about. It's not like there's really any danger here." Footnote Girl groaned and put her hands over her face. "I can't believe you just said that." The sound of windows crashing distracted everyone, including those still hunting for pennies, and they all looked up to see men and women abseiling in through now broken windows. They (the men and women, not the windows) were covered head to foot in navy outfits, and sported AK-107's. "Wow, the author has really gone overboard on the guns here..." Footnote Girl observed. "Meh. I've got better ones." "This isn't a competition!" After landing on the floor, the newcomers quickly drew beads on several of the occupants. One man, clearly the leader (at least, it was obvious now), stepped forward and spoke. "All rihgt, nodoby mvoe. I have an outraegous dylsexic acnect, and I'm not afaird to use it!" "A dyslexic accent? What's up with that?" Footnote Girl asked, incredulous. "Noralmly, I wolud be gvien an atrooicus Frnceh acecnt, but that deos not wrok as well in a text meidum, so I hvae a dyxislec one inseatd." "And people wonder why I dislike having Adventures," FG said. "Rgiht, I am hree for the pakcage," the man announced. "What pakcage...package?" Master Blaster asked suspiciously. "The one for the Utliamte Nnija, of crosue. I uderstannd it had icnisuieffnt pogaste." "Ah, yes, we have that package right here," replied the counter woman, reaching under the desk, and placing a package about the size of a loaf of bread, albeit a loaf of bread wrapped in brown paper, on the desktop. "Hey, that's our package!" Master Blaster said. "No, it is the pcakgae of the Poeloe's Atni-Nnjia Dmeiiloton Aciallne." Everyone's lips moved as they tried to work it out, but Footnote Girl got there first. "PANDA? You guys are PANDAs??" "Taht is a precfetly fine nmae," the leader returned, nearly sulking. "...we are wrkonig on it..." Shaking off the sudden depression, the leader aimed his AK-107 at the counter worker, and made a great show of placing his spare hand on the grenade launcher trigger. "Now, aoubt taht pcakgae..." The woman stood up stiffly. "This package is the property of the Loonited States Postal Service, and will remain so until delivered to the recipient presuming completion of the remaining charge on the postal package." "Yes, we kown. I wsih to pay the rset of the carghe." There was a pause as everyone parsed this. "You want to pay the rest of the postage fee?" Master Blaster repeated. "Yes. We apogolise for not esurning suffienct pagoste in the frist pacle. We wuold lkie the bmob dleivered as soon as pssobile." "Certainly sir. There is a fee still to be paid of 37 cents." "Hang on," Master Blaster quickly interjected. "Did you say that it was a bomb?" "Yes. For the Umiattle Njina. We wsih to klil him." "Fine, but I am never doing any favours for him ever again." The leader strode towards the desk, but then a man from the queue Footnote Girl had been a part of suddenly spoke. "Hey, buddy, back of the line. Wait your turn like everyone else." The leader quickly turned on him. "I do not tinhk you udernastnd. We hvae the gnus." "So do we pal." So saying there was a burst of sound, a clacking and clicking, as every person in the line, and every person on the floor, produced a gun from their clothes. There were Glocks and Remingtons and Rugers and...oh, just go do your own web browsing and insert gun type here... "Does anyone here not have a gun?" Master Blaster asked. "I've got a hockey stick," Footnote Girl volunteered. No-one else spoke up. She turned to Master Blaster. "So, fight scene?" "About damn time. Go!" Violence erupted as everyone fired at once. The air exploded with noise as bullets ripped from guns and passed Mach one. Concrete and counter shattered under the impact of thousands of hits, sending small chips flying through the air as their own deadly missiles. Master Blaster and Footnote Girl watched all this from the floor, where they had dropped immediately, no fools and no strangers to battles. After a few moments, Footnote Girl said, "You know, there's something strange about this fight..." "Like how we aren't a part of it?" "No, that's the good part. I mean...there are all these bullets flying around, and yet...no-one's dead!" "There goes someone right now," the gun guru pointed out. "Yes, they're down, but there's no blood. It's almost as if the bullets aren't...well...real..." Master Blaster picked one up from where it had finally spent himself. "These are rubber bullets," he said after a moment. "What? Rubber?" the mistress of commentary repeated. "This is a family comic. No death allowed, unless it's either a comic death of the bad guy at the end of the movie, or if it's right at the beginning leading to the main hero feeling angst for the entire story before finally coming to terms with the tragedy, usually because of the leading ingenue." Footnote Girl stared at him. "You watch waaay too many movies." "Hey, I haven't even been in a Master Blaster/Deja Dude movie special recently." "I thought it was a Deja Dude/Master Blaster movie special?" Master Blaster snorted. "Yeah, he wishes..." "*Anyway*, what are we going to do about this fight?" "Sneak out for a coffee?" "I think we can be a bit more responsible than that." "This is your first time starring with me, isn't it? Okay, let's do it..." Master Blaster executed a stunning flip that would have really look exceptionally cool on screen but completely fails to be fully appreciated in a textual medium, and was suddenly standing, a gun in each hand already firing, his arms outstretched in opposite directions. He spun slowly to cover the entire area with bullets, but also because his appearance now started causing people to shoot at him. Footnote Girl aimed carefully, dropped a footnote, then used her hockey stick to fire it with deadly (but not, we stress, actually causing death in any way because, as has already been stated, this is a family comic) accuracy and beaned one of the navy commandoes between the eyes, causing her to go down. Master Blasted spied a gun aimed in his direction, and jumped. The bullet that had just been fired passed underneath him in a way that it would take a wire team and slow motion cameras to capture properly. Footnote Girl took advantage of the situation to strike out with her stick at where Master Blaster had just been standing to hit the postal patron that was now sliding head first into that empty space, putting him out for the count. Master Blaster landed on the counter, but quickly back-flipped off it to land behind the postal workers that were still standing. Several up close intensive bursts quickly put them out of the action. Footnote Girl launched herself forwards, spinning her hockey stick around her, and charged through a crowd of patrons. The stick swung from left to right, felling those around her, hitting heads here, poking into stomachs there, all in a perfectly timed manoeuvre Footnote Girl had perfected when trying to be first in line for school dinners at St. Trinians. All this spectacular fighting did leave several commandoes still standing, but Master Blaster was now behind a relatively sturdy barrier that meant, happily, that he could rest the .50 caliber Browning sniper rifle on it. "Waht the fc*k is taht?" the commando leader screamed. The rest of the commandoes paled from navy to aqua, and Footnote Girl was suddenly reminded of the time the geography teacher was revealed to be evil and brought a bomb to class. ***BLAM*** The impact made by the leader in the wall wasn't so much man shaped as of someone in the fetal position. In fact, it wasn't so much an impression at all as was it actually was the leader in a fetal position buried in the wall. "And that's why they call me Master Blaster," MB said, grinning. And with that, the fight was over. People, those that were conscious at least, started picking themselves and others up. "Hey, you're hobbling. What happened to you?" "I got shot in the leg. I'm lame. Frickin' lame." Elsewhere a commando spotted a patron's purse. "Nice bag. What's it made from?" "That's lame'. Frickin' lame'." By the wall, one of the commandoes looked to be making out with a broken window. "What's up with him?" "Oh, he gets like that after a fight. He likes the frame. Lickin' frame." Footnote Girl looked over at Master Blaster. "What? I'm not saying it now..." He picked up the package, which remained unscathed despite the gunfire. "Still, we got what we came for." "You can't give that to him. It's a bomb!" "Hey, he wants the package, he gets the package." Footnote Girl looked around the room, and weighed up what they had gone through versus what the ninja deserved. "Come on, let's deliver the mail." Credits: Master Blaster created by Martin Phipps, useable without permission. Footnote Girl created by Saxon Brenton, useable with permission. Ultimate Ninja created by wReam, useable without permission. The others...meh... MASTER BLASTER will return in... "Dyawanfriwitha?"Back to the Index.