SG: Rad #97 (2/4): Monkeys

Gary W. Olson swede at
Fri Feb 27 03:56:23 PST 2009

(continued from part two, preceding...)


     The immense, dusty grey elevator was covered with symbols and
signs.  Rumiko Moroboshi stood before the hole where its sliding doors
had been, gazing into its dark interior.  Not much light made it to
where she stood--though the artificial lighting outside was powerful,
only a fraction of it made it through openings in the surrounding
wooden pyramid--but it was enough to give the dead machine a
disturbing appearance of life.  She stood, left arm outstretched, hand
nearly touching one of the elevator walls.  She tried to imagine how
it had once been.
     It had once moved underground, through the miles between the
surface and an immense hideout buried at the Earth's core, traversing
a network of passages created by the Ancient Ones to withstand the
immense pressures and heat of the interior.  A network that existed--
sometimes used, often not--for millennia before a particular set of
circumstances forced its apparent destruction.  A superguy,
Dangerousman, had set off an immense nuclear explosion in that temple
at the Earth's core, sending elevators in the network, or large chunks
of rock, shooting far above the surface.  Some, unfortunately, came
back down.
     Rumi did not know how devastating this particular impact had
been, but as Malaga, New Mexico, was still around, it had clearly not
been in the league of the infamous 'city-killers' that had wrecked
Montreal and Borneo.  That only the doors of the elevator were
destroyed spoke volumes of the engineering superiority of these
'Ancient Ones.'
     One touch, Shadebeam Moroboshi had said, had stolen half of her
magic, and infected her with a kind of madness.  A being called
Leviam00se had intervened, revealing how an annual ceremony could keep
the madness at bay, though she would never be able to leave the
vicinity of the elevator for more than a couple days without going
mad.  Building an immense wooden pyramid with antlers directly over
the elevator, and then burning it down while thousands of people
outside witnessed, was apparently what was needed to accomplish this.
     Her hand lingered near the surface of the elevator.  She could
feel no energies, felt none of the squamous menace she had expected
from Shadebeam's description, yet she could not convince her hand to
move the remaining inch to touch this artifact, built by a race as
alien to Hottentottians as to humans---
     She only had a second to see a hand slap palm-down atop hers
before her palm hit the elevator.  Alarm filled her as...
     ...nothing happened.
     Rumi blinked.  Nothing continued to happen.  The metal beneath
her hand was cool and lacking in any sort of menace.  The hand over
her hand was warm, its fair skin showing traces of a recent sunburn.
She turned her head and saw Lemon Rydell grinning back at her.
     "Shade told you the story, right?" he asked.  "Crazy, huh?  She
makes it sound super-dangerous and stuff, but you touch it and nothing
happens!  Hi, I'm Lemon."
     Rumi slid her hand out from between his hand and the elevator.
"Um, yeah," she said, as his blue eyes glittered and made it hard for
her to string words together into sentence form.  "I remember you from
earlier.  The... um... the wort."  She took a step back, and observed
that, unlike before, he was now clothed, wearing a t-shirt featuring a
cartoon coyote named 'Wile E,' a pair of black cargo shorts cinched
with a metal-studded belt, and formerly-black boots that had been
rendered by the desert into a permanent beige.  His hair was still
wet, evidently from having obeyed Shadebeam's order to shower off the
wort his tampering with Slithis's beer brewing had covered him in.
     "Hey, Este!" Lemon called, looking over at the crevice in the
structure that Rumi--and he, most likely--had used to get inside.  "I
found her!"
     "We're not supposed to be in there!" Esteban Veracruz called from
outside, in the kind of raspy voice one uses when one shouts something
one does not want to be heard by too many.  "Come out before someone
sees you!"
     Lemon snickered as he headed for the opening.  Rumi followed him
out.  Though the sky overhead was black and star-filled, the ground
around the pyramid was nearly as bright as day, due to all the
portable lights and floating orbs in the vicinity.  Hottentottians,
Earthlings, Dalans, and members of assorted other species appeared
hard at work on the wooden pyramid and many other Burning M00se
structures in the vicinity.  Only a few of these workers appeared to
take notice as she and Lemon emerged.
     Esteban was hovering in Los Pantalones, a few inches off the
ground.  He appeared surprisingly graceful as he swooped closer to
them, despite the fact that, in his bronze-gold armored 'battle
pants,' he looked like P.T. Barnum had attempted to fuse the top half
of a hispanic teenage boy with the lower half of a pro wrestler.
Coco, the two-foot-tall metallic bronze-gold bonobo, flitted around in
the air next to Esteban before zipping over to Rumi and giving her a
hug.  Rumi, startled, nevertheless managed to pat the surprisingly
light creature on the back a few times before it flew over to Lemon
and repeated the hug.
     "Hey, funky monkey," said Lemon, after releasing Coco.  "I just
saw you five minutes ago, remember?"  Coco shrugged and flew back to
Esteban.  He did a few mid-air somersaults, then tousled Esteban's wet
hair, ignoring Esteban's feigned attempts at swatting him away.
     "So what happened?" Esteban asked, having seemingly forgotten his
earlier concern that she and Lemon would be caught inside the pyramid.
"Did she touch it?"
     "She totally did!" Lemon replied.
     "So what happened?"
     "Nothing happened," Rumi interjected, "when I touched *the*
*elevator.*"  She paused.  "Why?  What was supposed to happen?"
     "Nothing!" Esteban and Lemon exclaimed in unison.
     The alarm in their voices was strangely amusing to Rumi, so she
softened her tone.  "Has anything happened to anyone else besides
     "No one!" Esteban said.  He shot a glance at Lemon for
     "No one," said Lemon.  "I'd know.  Just about everybody has to
come try it after they hear the story.  Doesn't matter who, what
species, light mage, dark mage, plaid mage, no mage... they get
     "So the story's a lie?" Rumi asked.
     Lemon shook his head.  "One night," he said, lowering his voice a
bit, "my sister and I were playin' in our bedroom, and--this is before
we got that weird movie glass we got now, you seen that? crazy, huh?
anyway--Shade and Slith roll in, only we don't know who they are,
then, they're just this woman and this lizard dude with kaleidoscope
scales.  And she's thrashin' around in his arms as he knocks on our
door askin' for help.  I mean, dude.  There may be just five houses
here, but three of 'em, that would'a gotten you a shotgun in your face
or somethin.'  At least, back then.  But they came to our house--she
must've told him my mom does magic, not really a mage, but she does
some doctorin' around here with it, when she's not trippin'--and she
got Shade back into her right mind.  I saw it all from the bedroom
doorway.  Shade was thrashin' and twistin' and her teeth were all
sharp and she was sayin' this really nasty stuff, like you don't wanna
hear, only it was kinda funny, especially the stuff with the cheese
grater and---"
     "MIS-ter Rydell," a stiff and authoritative voice interrupted.
The three looked up at a Hottentottian engineer who had approached
during Lemon's ramble.  He was an older man, with thinning black-and-
grey hair, a well kept van dyke-styled beard, and a leathery brown
face with an expression that made him look as if he had just swallowed
a frog.  A hallucinogenic frog, Rumi guessed, upon seeing how the
conical horns on his upper brow were changing colors.
     Lemon did not seem alarmed by the older man's approach.  "Chief
Engineer Mysanga," he said.  "Dude!  You're partying early, huh?"
     "This," said Mysanga, "is... for the work.  *Everything...* is
for the work.  Opportune orange!"
     Rumi noticed another engineer, this one younger and blonder, at
Mysanga's side, holding a compu-tab that displayed schematics of some
sort.  She was dressed as the chief was, in a leopard-print toga, and
though her face appeared completely serious, her horns were changing
colors as well.  Mysanga said to her, "little fluffy waffles fling the
zeppelin toastward."  The younger engineer nodded and adjusted the
     "I hope you're going to fracture local space-time again," said
     "What?" Rumi asked.
     "Last year," said Esteban, "my first year here, these guys
decided to hook up the autobuffet machine to the temporal flux
generators they brought over from their world.  Totally fractured
space and time throughout the whole Burning M00se festival.  There
was, like, three of me running around, four of him..."  He pointed at
Lemon.  "...and it made the festival seem like it lasted for ten days,
though it only really went the usual five."
     "The Radians were all panicky and stuff," said Lemon, "and they
eventually got it worked out, but we were like, whoo-hoo! school's out
for-ever, and stuff.  Crazy, right?"
     "MIS-ter Rydell," Mysanga said.  "Weasel hotcakes in my elbow.
We fractured space and time, yes.  Unintentionally.  Buttercup Europe
the sanguine trout.  But we fractured it... with *flavor!*"
     "What?" Rumi repeated, though by now she was not sure what she
was questioning.
     "Only one off thing about it," Lemon said.  "The time loops got
all bacony.  And no, I can't explain that one.  You kinda had to be
     "I interrupt your nostalgic reverie," Mysanga said, voice gaining
strength, "because I observed you and your hoodlum companions exiting
the pyramid, where you are not authorized to be.  Ectomorphic
salamander, it is full of stars and cabbage.  Shall I report you to
Miss Moroboshi, hmmm?  Gerbilesque?  Tampering with the structure
     "It only collapsed the one time!" Lemon protested.
     Mysanga opened his mouth to harangue Lemon further, when
something thunderous hit the ground nearby.  A shadow cut off a good
deal of light, and the next voice shook the ground and those on it,
including Rumi.
     "Are you bothering my friend?"
     It was a booming voice, a deep voice... and a voice strangely
childlike, as well.  Rumi looked up and saw the giant, thirty-foot-
tall man she had earlier seen assisting with the construction of the
antlered pyramid.  He wore enormous tan cargo shorts and nothing else,
though as much of the rest of him was extremely hairy, he did not seem
to need to worry about the cold of the desert at night.  His beard and
hair were streaked with red, gold, blue, green, purple, and colors in
between.  In his right hand, he held an enormous piece of wood, from
which emanated odd, discordant sounds as a breeze passed through.
     *That used to be his hockey stick,* Coco thought at her.  The
bronze-gold bonobo floated from Esteban's side over to Rumi.  *Mages
made it into a didgeridoo for him.  He liked the sound.*
     "Er, no," said Mysanga, looking up at the giant.  "No, Mike.
Ribbet.  Just, counseling.  Counseling, yes.  Through trees like cow
orchestras.  How's the left antler coming?"  High though Mysanga might
have been, Rumi noted, he could put up a good front, and clearly knew
enough to respect a giant primitive Earthling with a big stick.
     "We just finished it," Mike the giant replied.  He smiled,
revealing many cracked and missing teeth.  "Now we go to the desert to
drink the funny juice and see colors and birds and zambonis."
     "Right!" Mysanga agreed.  He glanced at his assistant.
"Terranonga, the fish in my rhubarb.  Avaunt!"  The younger engineer
nodded and adjusted the schematics once more, before filing it away in
her toga.  She followed Mysanga as he went to tell the other workers
it was time to knock off for the night.
     "Thanks, Mike!" Lemon called up to the giant.
     "You're welcome, Lemon, Esteban," Mike replied.  "U! A! A!"
     "All! The! Way!" Lemon and Esteban cheered back.  Mike grinned,
waved his giant didgeridoo, and lumbered away.  Rumi watched him go,
wondering what that last part was all about, then remembered
     "Hey, he's thirty feet tall," she said, "but I saw him earlier
putting something up on the antlers, and those are up about fifty
feet.  How...?"
     "He's Mike Polinski," Lemon said.  "He's got something called the
'Mighty Joe Young' effect going on.  He can be different heights in a
given situation.  But he doesn't change heights, see?  He just...
*is*... different heights, depending on what he's doing, who sees him,
and their vantage point.  Make sense?"
     "No," said Rumi, still watching Polinski lumber away.
     "Welcome to my world," said Lemon.  "Come on, let's walk."


     As soon as Rad touched down, three demon monkeys appeared and
attempted to take him down.  One appeared on his shoulders and covered
his eyes while a second attempted to give him a noogie.  The noogie
failed, as the demon monkey's paw could not penetrate Rad's hairspray-
and-mousse-laden hair sufficiently to find his scalp.  A third demon
monkey attempted to give Rad a wedgie by yanking his underwear up,
only to discover to its chagrin that he was not wearing any.
     "Like, get away, little dudes!" Rad exclaimed, driving his
assailants away with an omnidirectional psychokinetic force pulse.
The monkeys disappeared in mid-air, then reappeared on his back.  A
second force pulse blew them away again, and this time they did not
     "We are ninjas, yo!" a lone pseudo-ninja yelled in his ear.  Rad
ducked as the black-bathrobe-clad middle-aged man swung a katana at
him.  Before Rad could think of a way to retaliate that would not
seriously hurt the controlled man, demon monkeys appeared beneath the
man's robe and began mercilessly 'zerberting' him, while also doing
unfortunate things to his nipples.  Rad hit them with just enough
force to send them spinning into the crowd of combatants.
     HotFlash, nearby, was not being bothered by demon monkeys, as the
monkeys appeared to have enough sense to not appear directly on
someone emitting flames.  Unfortunately, the same could not be said
for the pseudo-zombies and pseudo-ninjas, who had apparently been
snapped back into something resembling focus by Mighty Guy's arrival.
They were attacking demon monkeys, HotFlash, or whoever else was
moving about, displaying much greater strength than Rad expected.
HotFlash kept them back with flame blasts, taking care not to blast
too close to her mind-controlled assailants.
     "Rad!" he heard Confusion exclaim.  "Over here!"
     The call, Rad realized, came from an area where the wreckage was
greatest.  He took to the air, deflecting throwing stars, hot dogs,
and the occasional enterprising demon monkey as he flew to the source.
As he penetrated the dissipating dust, he saw Mighty Guy, MeltDown,
Guido, Confusion, and Criticalman at the edge of a large impact trail.
The walls of the trail curved in--as impact trail walls are wont to
do--except in one section, where there was a three-sided hole.  One of
the sides of said hole was jagged, but the other two were straight and
perpendicular.  Guido stood at the edge, waving his hand-held scanner
over the hole, which was just large enough to let an average-size guy
fall through.
     "Eight and a half miles," Guido confirmed.  "You getting this,
Gigawatt?"  He seemed to listen to the air.  "Right, I know, I'll tell
him... er... yeah, that too... I... hey, why don't you just tell him?"
Guido listened a bit more, then looked at Rad.  "You got some kinda
implanted communications thing in your head, right?"
     "Like, yah, dude," said Rad.  "Like, what's going on?"
     "Can you tune it in to a certain radio frequency?"
     A minute later, Rad could hear Dr. Gigawatt's voice inside his
head.  Though his inability to reach his house's expert system--which
usually handled his communications needs--was a hindrance, unencrypted
radio was simple enough for even him to tune his implanted system to.
     "Right," said Gigawatt.  "Rad, my boy.  That hole is part of the
elevator shaft that leads directly down to the underground base that
is under control of the Mega-Intelligence Bureau faction led by Dana
Wader.  There's no way it's one of their regular underground bases,
since those only go underground two miles at most.  This is eight-and-
a-half, which is closer to the outer mantle than the surface.  To put
it in contrast, the deepest publicly acknowledged man-made hole, the
Kola Superdeep Borehole, only goes down six-and-a-half miles, and has
a very small diameter, only---"
     "Like, dude," Rad interrupted.  "Like, crisis here, y'know?"
     "Ahem," Gigawatt said.  "Yes.  Er... it's not one of their
standard underground bases.  Likely it was Erasmus Fancy that led them
to it--Bhossi and Cla'rabhelle tell me he is extensively versed in the
geography of Terra Subterrene.  Possibly the base once belonged to the
Ultra Collective, or Magnor Bok, or the Deros, or... well, there are a
lot of possibilities."
     "How well defended is it?" asked Confusion, who could hear
Gigawatt via his clipped-onto-collar transceiver.
     "Depends on who it used to belong to," Gigawatt answered.  "I
advise a cautious descent...."
     "Rad!" Confusion exclaimed, just before Rad dived into the hole
and used his psychokinetic thrust to further his downward
     The elevator shaft was lit by rings of circular lights, one ring
every fifty feet.  Thus far, nothing was firing at him.  Rad increased
his speed, confident that he would soon arrive at the hidden base so
that he could rescue his wife, daughter, friends, and whoever else
looked in need of a good and vigorous rescuing.  Then, he would...
     ...wonder why the rings of light were flashing past as if they
were heading *away* from him instead of *toward* him.
     A second later, he was distracted by having run into and through
the doors to the surface and the rubble that had landed atop them.
His psychokinetic shielding absorbed and blocked the damage, though
the ache in his back and legs felt like it would linger a while.
     He regained control in the air, preventing a collision with two
jetpack-wearing Harxxon agents.  The agents were being harassed by
demon monkeys, which disappeared upon seeing Rad.  A second later, the
monkeys appeared on Rad, only to discover his psychokinetic shields
gave them nothing to hang on to.  They disappeared after falling three
feet, and did not reappear anywhere Rad could see.
     The agents waved their thanks and returned to their task at hand,
which appeared to still be finding a way into the still-ascending
bronze-gold object from the dimension occupied by the Hidden Empire.
Rad focused his attention on the object, and let out a low whistle.
     The two-hundred-yard-long object was now fully horizontal, and
still ascending.  Pieces of it were in motion, and as Rad watched, two
smokestack-like towers and several small turrets rose.  Portions of
the topside of the vessel were sliding back, revealing what looked,
rather astoundingly, to be a deck that would have looked about right
for a late-nineteenth-century ironclad warship--save that there were
no large visible guns--though the long projection off the bow could
have been a gun.  The sliding-back portions also seemed to be sliding
out, forming arcing wings of a sort.  More wings grew from the
smokestacks and the turrets.  Rad expected to see propellers grow from
those, but they did not.
     The _Vander Harkness_ was further up and out, though it had more
than come halfway to confront the bronze-gold ship.  The _Vander
Harkness_ matched the new arrival in length, though its bulky H-shape
was considerably less sleek.  But it would likely be brute force, not
style, that would win the confrontation, so Rad felt justified in
     A massive bolt of electrical power erupted from the nose of the
bronze-gold vessel, slamming into the oncoming side of the _Vander
Harkness_ less than a second later.  The air was split with the
thunder of its impact, and Rad saw a green glow on the side of the
_Vander Harkness_ accompany a shower of sparks.  Neither vessel paused
in its flight, though Rad saw the _Vander Harkness_ start to rotate as
it changed course.
     Rad looked down, and saw that the battle raged anew in the
parking lot.  His having been ejected from the elevator shaft had
cleared the covering doors and a good part of the debris, revealing a
square hole about twenty feet to a side.  Hordes of demon monkeys were
trying to get to the hole, while hordes of radio-chip-controlled
people were trying to keep them back.  Neither side seemed to consider
the possibility of the superguys in the middle as allies.
     "Hey, dudes," Rad said aloud, hoping that his open channel to the
_Vander Harkness_ would allow them to hear him as well as speak to
him.  "I'm seeing some, like, heinous fighting going on below, like,
y'know?  What is, like, everyone trying to, like, get to?"
     "The monkeys seem to want to secure the perimeter of the elevator
shaft," came China Moroboshi's voice in his head.  "They're not trying
to go in--guess they saw you get ejected and know they have to try
something else.  Chip-controlled guys are fighting 'em, or our guys,
or each other.  Not sure they know what they're doing, really."
     "The guys around me," Confusion's voice crackled in, "are loudly
stating they like to 'move it move it.'  This does not bode well,
either for the battle or for synchronized dancing."
     Rad was about to reply when a massive exclamation hit him with
sonic force.
     "Monkeys!" Mighty Guy exclaimed.  "No fair!  They tickle!  Stop!"
     Rad stopped tumbling and watched, dumbfounded, as Mighty Guy
hurtled past.  Two monkeys were on his back, covering his eyes, while
three others worked on his feet, armpits, and other apparently
sensitive areas.  They appeared and disappeared quickly enough to
avoid his arms.
     The sky split as another massive electrical blast shot from the
nose of the bronze-gold ship to hit the _Vander Harkness_.  This time,
Rad saw no defending green glow.  Instead, a small fireball erupted
from the _Vander Harkness's_ side, and all at once the air was filled
with the rumble of the blocky ship's engines.  A few seconds later,
the silence returned, as the _Vander Harkness_ re-established its
shields and sound-dampening field, but its vulnerability was apparent.
     Just as the glow from the bronze-gold ship's electrical arc
faded, another explosion lit the night sky.  This time it came from
the direction of the power plant, which Rad belatedly realized was
where Mighty Guy had been hurtling.  MeltDown flew by, one hand
slapped to her forehead.
     Rad flew over the bronze-gold ship, wondering if he would see any
vulnerable areas now that it had shifted into what it was now--a
floating metallic airship that combined grace and strength with an
abundance of decorative bric-a-brac and a determination not to worry
about piddling concepts like aerodynamics and taste.  On the deck that
had been revealed by the ship's transformation, numerous demon monkeys
moved about.  Several stood near the ship's bow, making threatening
monkey noises in the general direction of the _Vander Harkness._
Other demon monkeys issued different kinds of noises, which Rad, on
flying closer, determined to be a spirited, if not skillful, attempt
at singing.  He could not make out the lyrics, as he did not speak
demon monkey, but the sound and the rhythm reminded him of a sea
chantey that Chalandra had once sang at a long-ago party on planet
Hottentot.  The chantey had involved a woman from Boston, heavy
drinking, a roll in the sheets, a lead pipe, and a parrot, and if what
the monkeys were singing about now were not those things, exactly, Rad
was willing to bet they were not too far off.
     "_Vander Harkness_ to Rad," crackled a voice from his implant.
It sounded like Dr. Gigawatt's.  "Are you all right?"
     "Like, yah," said Rad.  "Like, what about you dudes?"
     "We took some damage," Gigawatt replied, "but no casualties as of
yet.  Bhossi and Cla'rabhelle are retuning the shields.  They
appear... shaken."
     "They never, like, thought something could, like, break through?"
Rad asked.
     "They never expected to face the _Subtler Than Light_", Chalandra
Harkness's voice replied in Gigawatt's stead.
     "The... like, what?"
     "It's the name of the Hidden Empire's vessel," Chalandra
explained.  "Richard Cartier described it over a century ago, near the
end of his next-to-the-next-to-the-last journal.  He, his nephew
James, Verne, and the Roburtron were pursuing, on board the
_Albatross._  Why he couldn't have also brought along No-Apples
Hennessey, Puffing Billy, or Molly Quickfingers I don't know, as I'm
sure their abilities would have been useful..."
     "I thought it was because Verne was keeping the _Albatross_ a
secret," Manny's voice cut in, "and he didn't trust them to keep it
that way..."
     "That is not in the journals," Dr. Gigawatt asserted.  "It is
     "Like, dudes," Rad said, "can this, like, wait until, like, after
the battle?"
     There was silence on the radio frequency for a few seconds.
     "Right," said Chalandra.  "The _Subtler Than Light_ is the vessel
Cartier described a long time ago.  We only have this one description,
though, and the start of an air battle over Poughkeepsie in late 1898.
If Cartier ever learned more, it's in one of his missing volumes, the
next-to-the-last one.  Now, the thing that I'm wondering about, that
Bhossi just reminded me of, is that, if this is the same ship, is it
     Another huge electrical bolt erupted from the bow of the _Subtler
Than Light_ and slammed into the side of the _Vander Harkness_.
Though the fireball created this time was smaller, the air was flooded
again with the sound of the _Vander Harkness's_ engines.  This time,
the sound dampening field did not reassert itself.
     Rad, who had been flying over the _Subtler Than Light_ at the
time of the last bolt, reflexively fired a psychokinetic blast at the
projection on the bow from which the electrical arc had burst.  It
felt surprisingly weak as it left his hand, and he was not surprised
when it only caused its target to slightly shake.  It also occurred to
him that, weak or strong, the _Subtler Than Light's_ shielding should
have deflected the shot altogether, as had happened before.
     He tried another shot, which was nearly nonexistent.  The feel of
the air against his skin changed, growing fuller and cooler, and he
realized his psychokinetic shielding was breaking down.  There was
also a wind coming from below that was quite distracting.
     "Like, well," he said, "at least, like, I can still, like, fly...
     As he looked down and saw the deck of the _Subtler Than Light_
and its swarm of demon monkeys growing rapidly closer, his mind had
just enough time to think 'oh, like, about that...' before everything
went dark.

(continued in part three, following...)

Copyright (c) 2009 by Gary W. Olson.  All Rights Reserved.
Gary W. Olson
swede at novitious dot com
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