LNH: The Alt.Riders #42

Jamas Enright thad at eyrie.org
Mon Nov 14 10:29:09 PST 2005

Blue Light Productions presents:

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| #42  |   |   |  | |  |   |   | |   |     |  \ | |  | |  | |    |___
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     [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

[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
      "On Pluto! Only now, it's not there!"
      "That's rubbish," Rick said. "You can't just destroy a whole
      "*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
      "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
      "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
      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
      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
      "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
      "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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      "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
      "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 
      "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
      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


...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
      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
      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
      "Look at that," Agent said.
      "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."
      "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
      "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
      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
      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
      "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
      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
      "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

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

Jamas Enright
"Answers answered and questions questioned."
Homepage: http://www.eyrie.org/~thad/
Blue Light Productions homepage: http://www.blue-light-productions.com/

"If a great state has decided by law that twice two is five, it would be
foolish to allow mathematicians to testify." - Comment during the Scopes
Monkey Trial.

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