SG: Rad #97 (1/4): "Demon
Gary W. Olson
swede at novitious.com
Fri Feb 27 03:53:15 PST 2009
[ Rad Returns, Part Seven of Ten ]
"Demon Monkeys in my Pants"
Gary W. Olson
Bantering, The Programmer knew, was not one of his strengths. In
what he liked to think of as his 'glory days' as a villain in the
nineties, he had never bantered with his minions. Minions were for
lording over, not bantering with, and also he could never afford
minions with enough wit to make the bantering less than painful. In
his 'not-so-glorious' days of work for the insurance company Blue
Pound Sign of California, which ranged from the start of the new
millennium until about four hours ago, he had never liked bantering
with co-workers, as he could not lord over them, and they were not
good at bantering, either. But The Programmer did not mind his
bantering weakness, as the less time spent bantering meant more time
was available for drinking coffee and screwing around on the Internet,
two skills at which he excelled.
Now, however, he had cause to wish his bantering skills were not
so atrophied. For one thing, in his current environment--a cramped,
equipment-stuffed control room that was part of a base eight-and-a-
half miles underground--both coffee and Internet were cruelly withheld
from him. For another, he might have been able to produce suitably
scintillating replies to the insults directed at him by the banterers
near his workstation.
"This is a mess," said Tom McCavish-Laffalot. "I've seen better
chip design in a bag of Lay's. And what the hell is up with the
embedded servlets? The code reads like Romper Room on smack!"
The Programmer glared at Tom. This was less than useful, as only
Tom's sandal-covered feet were visible at the moment. The rest of Tom
was beneath a rack of circuitry and wires that had been pulled from
one of the numerous cabinets in the control room. Had Tom and The
Programmer been alone in the room, The Programmer could have used a
handy blunt instrument on Tom's feet to express his irate feelings in
lieu of bantering skills. But he was not.
"Do you see where the broadcast megahertz is being set?" Miguel
Veracruz asked. "Is a hamster on a roulette wheel involved?"
"Hey!" exclaimed The Programmer. "They wanted rotating
frequencies that could be synched up to the control chips, and that's
what I gave them. It's not *my* fault that sometimes those
frequencies end up already being occupied by regular radio broadcasts,
or that those controlled by the chips think the songs they hear are
instructions. What's it to you, anyway?"
Miguel snarled, and The Programmer instinctively backed away. As
Miguel wore only the black swim trunks he had been captured in, The
Programmer observed numerous muscle-oriented reasons to stay out of
his reach. The handcuffs on Miguel's wrists looked fragile, and The
Programmer was not about to rely on the four Mega-Intelligence Bureau
agents in the room to step in if he decided to banter with his fists.
The instant The Programmer backed down, Miguel's snarl was replaced
with a grin.
"Tom and I were kidnapped to clean up your mess, Programmer,"
Miguel's snarl returned.
"--ehrm, never mind."
A couple of the guard-agents snickered. The Programmer fumed.
He felt sweaty in his white dress shirt, black tie, and black dress
pants, the work clothes he had been abducted in. He wished his
clothing was laced with special circuitry, as it had been 'back in
the day,' as he could have then retaliated by ordering overhead
sprinklers to turn on, or the agents' comm equipment to replace all
their ringtones with Paris Hilton song clips.
"Actually," Miguel continued, "Tom's doing most of the cleaning
up. I'm just fixing the broadcast process and giving their
controllers some voice lessons. You should hear what a sloppy job
they've been doing. Three-quarters of the time they just run these
tapes with pre-recorded 'I'm a ninja' or 'I'm a zombie' stuff."
"So why were you targeted at all?" The Programmer asked.
"You're, what, a part time DJ at a public radio station? Why you and
not an actual radio station technician?"
"They were hypnotized by his buffness," suggested Tom, as he slid
out from under the circuitry. A palm-sized box was in his left hand,
its screen displaying lines of code in a very small font.
"I don't know why I was targeted," Miguel admitted. "There're
dozens of guys who know more about the technical aspects of radio than
me. All I can think of is that--"
"--they like the way he surfs," Tom interrupted. "And his hairy
Miguel opened his mouth to say something else, looked at Tom, and
seemed to 'get' something, as he closed it and tried to look like he
agreed with Tom.
"Look," The Programmer said, dropping his voice down to where the
guards would not hear, "I'm a prisoner here too, so whatever it is,
you can tell me."
"Nothing to tell," said Miguel. "And what do you mean, you're a
prisoner? I don't see cuffs on your hands!"
"And you aren't being forced to work on account of something like
that," Tom added, gesturing with his cuffed hands at a wall monitor.
Said monitor displayed a wide-angle view of a simple barred hostage
cell. Inside the cell was Eivandt Seconds, the vaguely Belgian
brother of the former President, still in the Hawaiian shirt, shorts,
and sandals he had been captured in. Next to him was a large blue
bird with the face of a brown woman. Outside the cell were two armor-
wearing guards. The bird-woman was singing. Eivandt and the guards
were awkwardly dancing as if they thought the singing was quite funky.
The volume on the monitor was off, and The Programmer reached to
switch it on.
"Don't do that, sir," said one of the guards. "If the sound gets
in here, we'll have to dance, too."
"What's going on?" The Programmer asked.
"That's my girlfriend, Cendra," said Miguel. "She doesn't always
look like that. Looks like she turned into the Bird of Happiness.
She'll turn back after a while."
"Oh," said The Programmer, which is really the only sensible
thing to say to an explanation like that. "Does this... um... happen
Miguel shook his head. "Only seen the Bird twice before. Are we
"Should be," said Tom. A guard took the code-reader from Tom's
hands, and Tom and Miguel left the room. Three of the four guards
followed, while the fourth remained.
"Get back to work," the guard ordered.
"Right," said The Programmer. "I just want to check what Tom
did, make sure he wasn't trying sabotage or something." The guard
seemed supremely unconcerned with The Programmer's work plan, so long
as he looked like he was working on something. The Programmer picked
up his own code reader, laid down on the floor, and slid beneath the
wiring and circuitry of the still-open cabinet. He quickly identified
the parts that Tom had rewired and changed around, and reached for one
of the boards.
Nanofilaments shot out from areas shrouded in shadow and pierced
his fingertips. Instantly, the world fell away, and he was back in
C-Space--what he called the vast and featureless bronze-gold expanse
he perceived and thought of as cyberspace. He had been in this place
thousands of times over the last who-knew-how-many years, manipulating
code and data for Dana Wader, only to have his memory of the
experience erased after each visit.
No one would erase his memory this time, The Programmer realized.
He did not know why he had been brought back into C-Space, but he had
the strong sense that Dana had not ordered it. Had this been her
doing, the nanofilaments would have gotten him at his keyboard, as
they had so many times before.
But if not her, then who?
As he watched, the bronze-gold expanse resolved into paths and
places and windows. It was not really like 'regular' cyberspace at
all. 'That' was rigidity and regularity; 'this' was flow and change.
'That' held passengers and structures that could project appearances
and stayed separate; 'this' there was only him, and if he seemed
separate, he felt the possibility that the separation was illusory.
He found a window, or a window found him. There was no boundary
that he could perceive. Nevertheless, he could see a room. It was
large, and he was at the center, looking out in all directions. There
were two ways in and out: sliding double-doors against one grey wall,
or a ladder against another wall that led to a hatch in the ceiling.
Viewscreens and workstations littered the remaining wall space, all of
them showing views of areas within the underground base, or of the
pandemonium on the surface in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Floor
space was taken up by carts holding spare parts and wires, empty
steel-barred cages, a microwave and a Mr. Coffee machine on a cabinet
countertop in one corner, and a rack filled with beakers and vials
that held oddly-colored fluids.
The double-doors slid open, and Dana Wader entered. No longer an
Empress, but still imperious, she advanced directly to whatever it was
The Programmer was looking out from. The black-and-white suit-and-tie
look was good on her, somehow--it accentuated the severity of her
expression, the evil curve of her unnerving smile. He thought her
natural black hair would have fit the look better than the bottle-
blonde she currently sported, but perhaps she was saying something
with that as well--that working for the M.I.B. was only a way-stop on
her path to recovering her power and her empire.
Behind Dana, a woman chained to a tilted wooden table was wheeled
into the room by two M.I.B. agents. The Programmer recognized Glum,
whom he had last seen in the central hub of the underground base,
being led away by Dana and her driver. Glum's sun dress had been torn
at the side so that her legs could be chained, but otherwise she
appeared unhurt. The look Dana gave her as she turned indicated that
that would soon be rectified.
Following Glum and the guards was Dana's driver, still masked and
mysterious. As the guards wheeled Glum in to the place Dana
indicated, they glanced at the driver, as if they were trying to
figure him out as well. No clues were forthcoming, so they withdrew.
The doors slid shut, and Dana, the driver, and Glum were alone.
Alone, save for The Programmer. Idly, he wondered what Dana
would do to him if she discovered his spying. Had he been able to
perceive his body, he was sure he would have shuddered.
"I will hook her to the pile," said the driver.
"I love it when you say that," replied Dana. She looked as if
she was about to villainously laugh, but she settled for a villainous
"What am I even doing here, anyway?" asked Glum. "You have power
sources galore--what do you need my bioelectricity for? And what
She looked directly at what The Programmer was peering from when
asking her last question. Dana looked back down at it--and at him.
"It is all the known nectarisite in this world," said Dana.
"Minus, of course, the portions we have put into our service, and the
tiny amount Harxxon has managed to acquire over the years. And Los
Pantalones, of course, but Erasmus tells me they are a special
"I have told you not to use my name!" the driver exclaimed.
Dana was unfazed. "You *said* that after tonight you would no
longer need to hide your identity. Right?"
The driver glowered, or at least adopted a posture that suggested
glowering. Then he nodded, and reached for his mask. It came off in
one piece, and The Programmer glimpsed something bronze-gold on the
inside. Something with a forest of tiny filaments that could only
have hooked directly into the driver's face.
The face of Erasmus Fancy was that of... The Programmer wanted to
think it was a gorilla's face, but it was different from anything he
had seen on the Discovery channel. The nose was not so flared, the
jawbone not so wide. Grey-streaked black fur seemed to radiate from
his grim-set mouth, down past his jawline and up and over his head,
neat and closely-trimmed. His right eye had a brown pupil, and his
left was a solid ball of bronze-gold. The Programmer did not need to
see the jagged scar on his left cheek to know the bronze-gold eye was
not original equipment.
Erasmus Fancy did not seem evil. He was determined, and grim,
and tired... but not evil.
"Ooh," said Dana, "hook her up by her earlobes! Then her eyes'll
get all sparkly!"
The Programmer considered the possibility that Dana being in the
room skewed his perspective on the appearance of 'evil.' Erasmus
showed no sign he had heard Dana, though, and picked up the end of two
wires that The Programmer realized were attached on the other end to
the place he looked out from. The pile of nectarisite that had been
the source of certain wires, certain filaments, certain radio-based
control chips, and at least one boss-looking false eye.
"To answer your question," said Erasmus. His voice was deep, its
rumble filling the room as he considered the bound Glum. "The
nectarisite responds to bioelectric power better than conventionally-
generated power in general... and it responds better to Hottentottian
bioelectric power in particular. Why that should be..." He made a
shrugging motion with his large shoulders. "...only the Reptiloids
knew. We can give it energy from any of our sources, true. But it
only... I'm sorry, but the only way I can put it is that it
*tolerates* these other sources, and reluctantly accepts their power.
But it *desires* bioelectricity."
"What do the Reptiloids have to do with it?" Glum asked. From
his vantage, The Programmer could see her struggling with her bonds.
They must have been somehow damping her bioelecticity, he realized,
else Dana and Erasmus would have been crispy critters, gauging solely
by the ferocity The Programmer saw in her eyes. "They're a peaceful
race, and have been in our Empire-slash-Confederation since---"
"Ask them why they buried the seven engines in the Earth," said
Erasmus, as he attached clips, also made of nectarisite, to the wires.
"Ask them why they opened this world to the notice of the Hidden
"Well, sure," Glum replied. "Just unchain me, and I'll zip right
off and comm them." This proposal was not greeted with any detectable
approval from either Erasmus or Dana.
"So how are you going to get her to give up the power?" Dana
asked. "And are you sure it won't have any adverse effects on our
army? The M.I.B. has a vested interest in the outcome."
"You care nothing for the M.I.B," Erasmus said, without
noticeable recrimination. "They are a means to an end for you,
nothing more. Much as they believe you are a means to an end for
"I love it when you talk Machiavellian," said Dana, breaking out
into a sharp-edged grin. "It's like you're Gorilla Grodd and Barry
White, all in one!"
Erasmus did not reply to this, though his face took on a brief
sour look. He finished attaching a clip to the second wire, then held
up both wires and considered Glum. Glum's return look was defiant and
"Earlobes," said Erasmus, at last.
Dana's grin grew sharper, resembling a curved white blade with
red edges. It was directed at Glum. Erasmus stood at the end of
Glum's table, so that he could simultaneously attach both clips to
Glum's earlobes. The clips clamped down---
--and The Programmer's perceptions went white, bright, and
crackly. Abruptly, he found himself back in his body, watching
bronze-gold filaments retract into the shadows. His heart was
pounding. His breathing was shallow. Had anyone else been around,
they would have thought he was very happy to see them.
Slowly, he slid out from under the cabinet, sat up...
...and realized he was being watched by no fewer than six demon
"Erk," he said.
The monkeys looked like the same ones he had briefly seen hiding
in a bus in the underground base's central hub. Black-furred, with
small horns on their foreheads. Way-grim in expression. This time,
they were *definitely* giving him the way-grim demon monkey eye. One
stretched its arms and cracked its knuckles. If they thought he was
very happy to see them, it did not appear to move them much.
"Um," said The Programmer, as he looked around for the guard that
had been in the room. He saw the guard on the floor, either passed
out or dead, his gun nowhere in evidence. "I denounce 'Lancelot Link'
and all it stands for?"
The demon monkeys gave him slow grins that did not give The
Programmer cause to grin back.
As the electrical arc projected by the rising bronze-gold
monstrosity before him vanished, Rad contemplated angles of attack,
how much force to apply, and which direction to fly once his first
strafing run was complete. This took about three seconds. The
remainder of the eighteen seconds it took for him to fly at high-speed
toward his target was occupied with what pose to strike while flying
in battle. Both arms forward? One arm forward, one back? Both arms
back, so that it looked like he thought he could destroy the target by
ramming it with his face?
Such were the tactical thoughts Rad had as he, Key Clark, and
Yury Mitsuke flew--thoughts that were the reason he was famed
throughout Earth and major portions of the galaxy for his tan, his
laid-back coolness, his heroism, his parties, and *not* his tactics.
It was just as he made the decision to go with the one arm forward
pose, and was contemplating the merits of fist-versus-open-flat-hand,
that something happened to interrupt his thoughts.
Key and Yury...
"MeltDown and, like, HotFlash, narrator dude."
"We're, like, supposed to, like, use code names and, like, stuff,
when in battle, like, y'know?"
But that was a CalForce rule, and CalForce no longer exists, and
I thought we weren't going to do this anymore.
"Like, do what, dude?"
Talk to one another.
"Why not, narrator dude?"
Because it's an old joke. Hackneyed. We did it all the time
back in the day, and it was only sporadically funny then.
"Like, dude, I have no idea why you're talking about, like, knees
and spores, y'know? It's just, like, CalForce may no longer, like,
exist, but they, like, still goes by their code names in, like, saving
people and, like, stuff..."
You have a point.
"Actually, I decided, like, to go with the, like, fist pose,
(deep breath, here we go...)
MeltDown and HotFlash were nearly at the rising bronze-gold
object. Bright flame streaked from HotFlash's shapely, red-leather-
clad form, while the air was distorted but clear behind MeltDown's
shapely, skimpy-shiny-short-shorts-and-tank-top-clad form. Rad had no
idea if his ultra-tan, blue-jean-cutoff-shorts-clad form trailed
anything behind him--he had never thought to look, especially when
MeltDown and HotFlash were around to be observed--and at the moment
did not care. The time to attack had arrived.
The women suddenly veered away--MeltDown to the left, HotFlash to
the right. Rad was puzzled about why they veered, especially as it
looked as if they had not even strafed their target with force blasts
or flaming plasma blasts. A moment later, Rad discovered the reason
for this--he struck something invisible in mid-air, something that
pushed him away from the rising object and into the night sky.
Though Rad was not the highest stepper in the Rockette-line of
intellect, he had encountered his fair share of force fields in his
day, and quickly recognized this as one. As he hurtled away from his
target, he realized that it had been specifically angled to not
receive him head on, but instead to form a curve that would use his
own momentum against him. He regained control of his flight and
looked at the rising object.
It was bronze-gold, nearly a hundred and eighty yards tall, and
still rising from the nectarisite lake that had formed on the playing
field at Dodger Stadium. Its thickest point--where it had been about
as wide as the field, nearly buckling the fences--had passed, and its
lower half was tapering off. As he watched, it rose twenty more
yards, until the lower half tapered to a point which then parted from
the nectarisite lake.
"Ugly sucker, ain't it?" asked HotFlash. She and MeltDown had
recovered and flown to him while his attention had been on the object.
Its surface was covered with hideous rococo ornamentation, including
enormous curly-cues, c-scrolls, asymmetrical wave-like decorations,
and the like. Despite the overwhelming sense of tackiness that Rad
got from it, he could see the sleekness underneath. Several parts
looked folded over others, and Rad had the feeling he was not seeing
its intended shape. The lights from Dodger Stadium, as well as the
surrounding parking lot, streets, and neighboring buildings, gave its
underside a wicked glow that the pale moonlight and starlight could
"Should we go after it again?" MeltDown asked. "It deflected me
without straining. I tried peppering it with some blasts, but no
"Like, let's go down, and, like, check in with Confusion, like,
y'know?" Rad asked, using Manny Seconds's CalForce-era code name.
"His team has, like, been here longer, like, than us, so maybe, like,
they've totally got some, like, info."
"Might as well," HotFlash replied. The three flew down toward
the parking lot outside Dodger Stadium. There they were greeted by
chaos, Confusion, pseudo-ninjas, pseudo-zombies, and monkeys, though
not in that order.
"Whoa, little dude!" Rad exclaimed as he touched down next to
one of Harxxon's dark red helicopters, narrowly missing a black-furred
monkey that he could have sworn had not been there a moment ago. The
monkey looked up at him, and Rad saw it had little horns on its head,
and a collar with a flashy bronze-gold metal disc. The primate
screamed something not very clear at him, added a hand signal that
clarified things somewhat, then disappeared. Rad blinked.
"Dude," he said. "Did I just, like, see that?"
"You did," said Confusion, as he swung out from beneath the
helicopter, where he had been crouching. "Dr. Gigawatt says Bhossi
and Cla'rabhelle have identified them as demon monkeys. Mercenaries,
by and large, though they do a lot of work for the Hidden Empire,
which, not-too-coincidentally, is where that big ugly is coming from.
Think your basic howler monkeys, only with horns, sentience, the
ability to teleport up to a hundred feet line-of-sight, and a tendency
to take their work seriously."
"And what is that work?" MeltDown enquired, as she and HotFlash
landed. Six more demon monkeys scampered by, two flickering out of
sight in what looked like a co-ordinated move.
"Looks like they're headed for those busses," said HotFlash.
"Hi yourself," Confusion replied, not taking his eyes off the
busses. Rad gathered they were very important busses, else Confusion
would never have chosen to look at them over HotFlash and MeltDown.
"They're searching for something. Probably the same thing as us: the
entrance to the M.I.B.'s underground base. You think that'd be easy
to find, but it's not. Guido and Templar've been working on it."
"Are, like, the monkey dudes, like, giving you problems?"
"Surprisingly, no," said Confusion. "They're too busy looking as
well. We ran into some resistance from the wannabe ninjas and zombies
that Dana's had mind-slaved to her broadcast chips, but they gave up
on that as well and are just kind of milling around."
Rad saw a few of them, milling around just as Confusion
described. They appeared to be in no worse shape than they had been
when he had last seen them in Templar's studio, though now they seemed
to be doing nothing in particular. They were not even declaring they
were ninjas. Rad wondered if their controllers were taking smoke
"There's Ba... um, Guido," said Confusion, indicating the seven-
foot-tall black-trenchcoat-wearing anthropomorphic donkey that had
emerged from between two busses. On one arm was a massive gun that
would have made a pro wrestler tip over, on the other was a hand-held
box connected to an oversized screen. Next to him was Criticalman,
aka Templar Maccabee, who held one thumb at the ready to guard against
attack, and whose other hand held a mustard-laden hot dog.
"Where did you get *that?*" HotFlash asked, ignoring the striding
howler monkeys as she walked over to Guido and Criticalman.
Criticalman scowled as she approached, then gestured with his hot-dog-
holding hand toward the carts that were on the sidewalk just outside
the stadium walls.
"I know it's been a while, dear," he said, with icicle-laden
emphasis on the word 'dear.' "But you do remember how enterprising
our fellow Angelinos can be, right?"
Rad observed that one stand was selling hot dogs, while a second
stand appeared devoted to ice cream of various kinds, and a third
merchant vended beer from a keg and assorted pops from pressurized
canisters in the back of an open Econoline van. Pseudo-ninjas,
pseudo-zombies, demon monkeys, and people who had just shown up to
watch the fight were in line, money in hand.
"I haven't been able to find the entrance to this underground
base," said Guido, who had foresworn use of his CalForce-era code-name
'Badass' altogether, and thus was exempt from the code-names-in-battle
rule. He nodded at his hand-held scanner. "Neither has Marta--she's
in one of the 'copters up there, running scans on the lot when she's
not giving covering fire to our agents. Wherever the entrance is,
they've got some super-tech keeping it under wraps."
Rad looked up. The massive bronze-gold object was still
ascending, and also appeared to be tilting in mid-air, going from
vertical to horizontal now that it was clear of Dodger Stadium. Rad
guessed it to be at eleven hundred feet up and climbing. Harxxon
field agents wearing jetpacks and flight suits circled it, no doubt
describing all they saw to Chalandra Harkness's team on the _Vander
Harkness_. Harxxon jets streaked by, gunfire and missile fire
splashing harmlessly against the object's force field. Farther away,
he could see the H-shape of the _Vander Harkness,_ descending from its
cruising altitude. Before long, the two massive battleships would
"Where's Kent?" MeltDown asked.
Guido, Templar, and Confusion winced, and started looking around
for things to hide under.
"What?" she added.
"There he is!" HotFlash exclaimed.
All Rad saw was a rapidly approaching purple, gold, and blue blur
on the horizon. The Harxxon jets peeled away. The jet-pack-wearing
Harxxon agents flew away in all directions except where it looked like
the blur was heading--somewhere on a path that might have included the
bronze-gold object, but was vague enough that it could have also
included Dodger Stadium, a nearby power plant, and most of the
MeltDown blasted into the air, leaving a small crater in the
pavement where she had been standing. She was gone in a moment,
moving as fast as he had ever seen her fly. He took to the air to
assist her, as HotFlash did the same.
Before he could get halfway to where the blur was heading, the
air shook with the impact of a tremendous nuclear force blast. The
blur's course abruptly changed, so that it was now heading straight
for the rising bronze-gold object.
Then, a second before it would have struck, the blur arced down
toward the grouping of busses in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
"Hey, no fair!" he heard MeltDown exclaim. "I figured the angle
correctly and everything!"
Rad started to reply, but his words were lost in the roar and
rumble of the blur's collision with the parking lot surface. Busses,
helicopters, and asphalt went flying, and a tremendous cloud of dust
Moments later, one familiar voice could be heard, even over the
rumble of pieces of things hitting the ground.
"Hey!" Mighty Guy exclaimed. "Did you know there was already a
hole in the ground when I got here?"
"Well," said HotFlash, hovering next to Rad. "Guess that solves
the mystery of where they hid their underground elevator. Shall we?"
She gestured to the parking lot.
Rad, HotFlash, and MeltDown flew down, into the erupting melee.
(continued in part two, following...)
Copyright (c) 2009 by Gary W. Olson. All Rights Reserved.
Gary W. Olson
swede at novitious dot com
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