REPOST: RAC Challenge! #21

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at
Tue Dec 22 19:25:24 PST 2015

Chapter by Mike Friedman, who wrote for the LNH
and Crossroads imprints with such titles like
Los Bastardos and Arvie the Wonderdog..

From: franke at (Jerry L Franke)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.creative
Subject: REPOST: RAC Challenge! Ch. 21
Date: 2 Dec 1995 21:59:23 GMT

Continuing the Challenge!  The finale is finished and will be posted Monday,
December 4th.

                                RAC CHALLENGE!
Chapter 21: Stretching the World Wide Web

   or Brain Fever, take your pick.
   by Mike Friedman
   Nothingness. Do you know what it is like to live in nothingness? I
   have. And it is for what seems to be an eternity.
   But I had a different life. In a different time. A different place.
   They once called me Merton Flagler. But now, I just do not know.
   You see, I was killed. I left that reality, headed for the next. But
   did I actually get there? Heaven would be a warmer place than this. It
   would be more "there". Here is nothing. Here is absolutely nothing.
   I guess it could be worse. I could be in Hell. Or Purgatory. Yet, I
   lie somewhere in between all three. But something calls me. It has
   crossed the reality and spins into my sub-conscious being. It is one
   word. It is "Paragon".
   It is hard to remember things here in the nothingness. It is hard to
   visualize the other reality. This is what it is, and seems like it has
   been for the last hundred years. Probably more. Time is something of
   irrelevant here. All I know is, it passes slowly.
   Too slowly.
   And still, the name is in my mind--nay, my very essence. Is it calling
   out for help? Does it need me? Why am I plagued by these worries? Who
   is "Paragon"?
   For some reason I have the courage to seek out for the first time. I
   need to span my own consciousness to view what actually lays beneath.
   And on the way, I discover something. It is probably something I did
   not suspect. Though it is hard to know for sure. I will probably never
   know. But for some reason, now I see form. Substance. It is almost
   like the previous reality.
     >> Welcome to DIOSphere. Please log on: <<
   Hmmm. Seems familiar. But somehow, I visualize it now, where I have
   not before. I cannot place it. My body--yes, my body!--is floating in
   a sea of numbers. Digits. Bits and decimals. This must be the reality
   I remember. But it cannot be.
   Oh well, I try to move past the large sphere sitting in front of me,
   but each time I try to pass, it blocks me. It fills my head with the
   thought >> Please log on: <<.
   Okay. Let's try this. See if I remember. I think to myself and it
   comes up before me, like a TV screen. >> mflagler <<
     >> Password <<
   Can I remember? I think >> marble <<.
   The sphere opens up in front of me. Appearing to make a large flat
   map. It glows with the luminescence of thousands of neon lights. This
   is good. I am remembering reality now.
     >> Welcome to the DIOSphere. Enjoy your visit, Dr. Flagler. <<
   DIOS. DIOS. The name sounds familiar. Of course! The Dixon Institute
   for Orthogonal Studies! "Paragon". I remember. He is in trouble
   somewhere, and now he is calling out to me for help.
   I look at the world in front of me. It is a large map. I try to think.
   Concentrate on Paragon. >> Query Paragon << no luck. >> Query Dirk
   Darringer << nope. >> Query Ultimate Man << the sphere thinks.
     >> The Ultimate Man. Link <<
   Now I am getting somewhere. I follow the link. For some reason, the
   DIOSphere follows.
     >> URL not found. <<
   What? No, it should be here! It should be here! I know, back to the
   Ultimate Collective.
     >> The Ultimate Collective is a foundation that exists for the
     advancement of our own go.. <<
   Yeah yeah yeah. Blah blah. Give me the real stuff.
     >> Active members: none <<
     >> Paragon: status non-existent <<
   Someone is wiping Paragon from the files of the web. He's wiping him
   out of existence. Who could it be?
   Suddenly, the large letters appear before me: HELP! - PARAGON
   This is very strange all of a sudden. More words this time, followed
   by an address. HELP ME.
   What is this ".gammani"? Never seen that before. >> DIOSphere: whereis
   gammani <<
     >> Gammani cannot be found on the World Wide Web <<
   Huh? Let's try to follow the link. It is hard to find, but it
   eventually gains light. Almost as if someone were leading me. The
   DIOSphere seems to follow.
     >> Warning: we are stretching the World Wide Web beyond known
     limits. Advise caution in proceeding. Data may be lost in transfer.
   Sheesh. I know. I know. The trip is pretty long. Not very eventful.
   But when I get there, there is something waiting for me. It looks like
   a rabbit. One that is twice my size. It speaks to me in some unknown
   gibberish. I try to pass, but it won't let me.
   I know what to do >> DIOSphere, cryptography programs please <<
   The meaningless garbage soon becomes meaningful. }} Welcome to
   Gammani. All visitors must register with the registrar before
   entering, under code 72.33 of the UWW code. {{
   Okay, so I do it >> Query registrar <<
     }} Registrar welcomes you to Gammani! Please enter pertinent
     information now. If not, Brain Fever could commence {{
   Ooh Brain Fever. Sounds nasty. Probably a virus of some sort. So I
   think back, and my mind instantly completes the data transmission. It
   is kind of a mind numbing experience. What ever this Gammani is--it
   now basically knows my life history. Oh well, I live with it. I didn't
   have much of a life a few hours? days? weeks? ago.
     }} Welcome mflagler. Have a nice visit {{
   So, I am here. I search around for a bit in useless history files.
   They mean almost nothing to me. But here we are: Delta Squadron.
   Oooo! Something cool--Reality View. I ask DIOSphere how it works.
     >> Reality View: allows you to see real time video from camera
     outside of the WWW <<
   Interesting. I look at it. I see something. It looks kind of like a
   robot with a human brain in it. It is pretty damn sick. Some German
   doctor guy is standing over it. That is when it somehow notices me in
   the camera. I do not know how, but the robot communicates.
     ** ah! mflagler! I made contact. Please help me. Contact the
     Ultimate Collective. Get my body back! **
   I try to respond. >> But the collective has been destroyed! It said so
   on the WWW <<
     ** By who? **
     >> I don't know. <<
   Then suddenly, a large nebulous blob appears before me. It
   communicates with me. >> No, we are not dead. We are close to death
   like you. Weaker than you. We needed your assistance to bring us to
   Gammani. That is why we pulled you from the nothingness. Now we can
   fulfill our last duty before we die <<
     >> Who did this to you? <<
     >> Paragon will know. He will get revenge. Now, we must do our job.
     Commence download. <<
   The DIOSphere somehow sends them through, on to Paragon. The
   collective look like they are entering his mind through the mechanical
   parts of his body. I ask the DIOSphere for help in figuring out the
   It replies >> The Ultimate Collective used you to piggyback to the
   Gammani sector of the UWW (Universal Wide Web). It did not have the
   power to do it by itself, but it knew you could do it through your
   access to the DIOSphere. Now, they are using their remaining energies
   to build Paragon a new body <<
   "I am whole once more!" shouted Paragon at the top of his newly formed
   lungs, "And I am one with the Ultimate Collective. I now know my
   And what of me? I asked the DIOSphere. It said that this was now my
   reality. The UWW. It was mine to explore. And I thought to myself that
   it was a better existence than the nothingness I left.
   Thank you DIOSphere. I will do my best to help Paragon succeed at his
   Who destroyed the Ultimate Collective? What is Paragon's new mission?
   What happened with all of wReam's stuff? Find out in the next issue of
   RAC.CHALLENGE in a tale that could only be called...
     * Chapter 22: Not a real good jumping on point for new readers. (Yes
       this is actually used in the story.)
   Well, I wasn't going to do this, but wReam left me with a story that
   just had too much information (info overload), so I had no choice but
   to kind of go off on a tangent. But, I did manage to get Paragon's
   body back in one piece. He is better than ever before. And I also
   brought back a character who hasn't been around for about 15 issues.
   Didn't think it was possible, huh?
   For some reason, the humor got shunted to the side for this issue.
   But, I had to set up so much stuff, it was hard to do. Yeah, I know I
   probably didn't do a real good job of displaying the cyberspace of the
   UWW, but who cares? It is my story, dammit! Hahaha!
   Anyway, mflagler will now be assisting Paragon through the UWW, along
   with the help of the DIOSphere. I chose to focus on mflagler because I
   didn't want to screw up all that neat stuff that wReam set up. I just
   couldn't deal with it, so I was sneaky and passed it along to the next
   author. Silly me.
    Michael Friedman
     "It's always funny until someone gets hurt and then it's just
     hilarious."--Faith No More, Ricochet



Jerry L. Franke                        franke at
Computer Science Dept.                 Indiana University
formerly from Florida State University

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