(back to Zool V Chapter Seven)
Suddenly the control room was filled with the strangest of characters. Forgotten books, plays, television serials, all were represented by the mob of eccentric individuals who suddenly flooded the space. (What the bizdec -??) protested Isidore, pulling Death (the Endless, not Doug) aside as two loons dressed as sub-characters from 'Star Wars' hopped past with their feet hobbled by cardboard boxes. "You're still soggy," Death protested in an undertone. (Sorry.) Does this always happen when Miss Saitra's around? Artu enquired somewhat acidly of Doug Death, who even then was being accosted by a guy with a metal headband jabbering something in Chinese, who in turn was being hallooed at by several Smurfs for no apparent reason. The skeletal figure jumped round nervously: the Fiction Fellow Ship took another shaking. "N-n-no. I think she's really lost it this time. She's out of control." "Control is me!" hissed a young-old woman, fleeting past in a whisk of grey-beige rags. "Exactly," stammered Doug Death, "and the survey is..." Death stared at him pointedly. "...beg pardon."
Deafening steps suddenly thumped on the decks of the Ship: Saitra had arrived. "DOUGLAS!!!"
"Yes, my Lady." Doug Death stared up into a space occupied by the conceptual being, clearly terrified that his potential for sedition had been sniffed out by the notoriously intuitive Queen of Chaos.
"WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR LAUNCH DATE?"
"Set back, my Lady, didn't anyone tell you, we're having several technical difficulties with the fuelling of the Ship, we only need -"
"TIME IS RUNNING OUT! SEIZE HIM AND THE REST! MY APOTHEOSIS WILL NOT WAIT MUCH LONGER!"
The Fictional beings vanished. Ominous-looking troopers, if anything more sinister than the Battle-Aardvarks, swarmed in on the double... --TL
As chaos reigned on the Fiction Fellow Ship, one enormous gorilla-like cyborg helped another out of a sensory immersion pool.
<My CPU hurts... man, this is worse than MS Word.> Prometheus complained bitterly. "Yes, Deb sends her apologies for that... but she needed to cause a distraction." Alan-Breck looked around. "Come on, let's take a look round and find the rest of the gang."
<You sound like some sort of Scooby-doo reject.> Prometheus followed Alan up the ramp, stil holding his cranium painfully. <You look a little like one too.>
"That'll do, thank you. Fur's one thing, wet fur's quite another. If you shake you'll drown half the crew."
<What crew> "Good question."
They passed through a door at the top of the ramp. To their right, through an open doorway, a similar chamber to the one they had just left played host to a lab-coated boxer shorted scientist, who was staring at the empty sensory deprivation pool in some despondency. At least... at first it looked empty. Then a shape loomed up from within as the two cyborgs peered down through the doorway. A human shape. A figure in flat cap and university scarf burst forth.
"What? No no no no no!" the scientist flapped his hands in panic. "You're part of the simulation you can't come out... it's not allowed!" He paused. "It's not physically possible either, but it's not allowed!"
Eh up, I make the rules here, Neddy. Grytpype-Thynne snarled, seizing the scientist by the neck. I adopted this form and position in reality for my own reasons, but now circumstance forces me to rise to my true form... The figure began to shimmer and change.
"Oh rats, not Sally again," Alan sighed, but it was not... instead the figure which emerged from the whirling vortex was green... and plush... an imposing figure with tentacles boiling forth from its face and terrible void-like eyes.
I, Cthulhu, am become Cthulhu, destroyer of worlds. A pause. Let me try that again. But the scientist's eyes had already rolled back in his head, his mouth hanging open in an insane grin, and his body limp. Plush Cthulhu dropped him into the pool and stepped out in a terrifying rattle of poisonous beans, and made his way towards the ramp.
"OK... Prometheus, shall we run?"
<Might be a good idea. Soonish.> -- WJR
Four by four by four they came, spitting foul words at their prospective prisoners and waving baseball bats. They were Bionic Warthogs, considerably beefier than the Battle-Aardvarks, the creme de la creme of the Fiction's fighting force, summoned only at times of greatest need. Artu and Isidore had stepped forward to defend Doug and the rest of the rag-tag gang, but with the rest had begun to retreat under the weight of numbers. Saitra was cackling. (If we get out of this,) Isidore said to Artu in an undertone, (I will never be able to see a wildlife documentary on the Serengeti in the same way again... what in the name of blazes is that?) A still-more sinister soughing, hissing sound passed along the corridor just as the Warthogs were about to lay hold of them: everyone paused. Sounds just like a load of bean-bags... Ee By Gum! came the sound of distant chanting. Ee By Gum!
"WHAT?" Saitra bellowed in fury, ironically fulfilling a great deal of the What? energy needs for the vessel. (Doug was momentarily relieved.) She added with a great deal more alarm, "WE ARE INVADED! IT IS TOO LATE!"
Ee By Gum! chanted the beanbaglike entities, swarming forward to crush the rearguard of the Warthog platoon. Ee By Gum!
The ship was trembling. Frell it, what are those things? Artu exclaimed, his nose twitching nervously. "Toy Shoggoths," Orusagoon declaimed. "The single most evil creation of man or deity. Cthulhu has awoken..."
Sitting on a deckchair he had constructed from space junk, GoogleJuice had just been about to sit down and devour some new delicacy - a military satellite, perhaps - when he received the call. (Cthulhu Rising,) it whispered... --TL
Back on the ship, Isidore was recovering consciousness. Blacking out wasn't a sensation he'd been too familiar with in the past- for a cyborg, pain was generally a response which could be over-ridden- "You've just put your hand on a circular saw blade" might be a useful feedback message, but "You've got a large hole in you, nothing you can do about it till you get back to base" wasn't- and there wasn't very much beyond an E.M.P. that could knock a cyborg off-line that wouldn't also destroy it. Recently though, the sensation of waking up and remembering that, actually, it hadn't been you that had caused you to be not awake previously, was one he'd experienced all too often. There was another sensation as well now... a pain. A... dragging, tugging, sort of pain. What was it... he thought for a moment. Someone was dragging him along the floor by his nose.
(What the frell?) he buzzed through his constrained and extended nasal passage, scrambling on to four feet as he did so, and opening his eyes. A corridor. Grey and rather dull looking, frankly, and of a similar architectural style to the rest of the Fiction Fellow Ship. If someone had tried to design Victorian Gothic Oxford College out of steel plate and perspex, and developed blindness and arthritis of the fingers shortly before setting pen to paper, then had most of the interesting features edited out by a quantity surveyor and the whole thing finished in matt grey, it wouldn't look anything like the decor here, but it would have resembled the interior of one's brain after attempting to define the style of this style-less ship.
The ship! A thought occurred to him. Yes, he could hear it in the distance, the nightmarish chanting of Ee By Gum as the Shoggoths- or the Tribe of Gum as he'd already started mentally labelling them- battled the Warthogs, their own cybernetically modulated snorts of rage still sounding high and full of fury. Slowly, Isidore focused on the being who had dragged him away. (OK...) he breathed, unnecessarily- the being smiled seraphically at him. (What are YOU doing here?)
At that point though, another steel aardvark came thundering along the corridor in panic, a pale-skinned girl in goth costume riding side-saddle on its back with a bemused-looking old man and two hirsuite cyborgs scuttling along behind, followed by a mixed and less than co-operative throng of green beanie babies and metal Warthogs, and last of all by the terrible form of Cthulhu himself.
"STOP!" bellowed Isidore's saviour- or kidnapper, he was less than sure. Everyone- Isidore, Artu, Deb Death, Eelalog Orusagoon, Alan-Breck, Prometheus, Cthulhu, the Tribe of Gum, the Bionic Warthogs... they all stopped- and back on the bridge, the Lady Saitra even stopped holding Doug upside down and using him to play the drums on the control panels. The owner of the voice did not sound like a person to be trifled with.
Cthulhu Rising Cthulhu muttered rebelliously- and unknown to all, that phrase crossed time and reality until it reached many of his servants, even unto the most powerful, and they began to make their way towards the Fellow Ship.
The being smiled, and beckoned to Is, Artu, Deb, Eelalog, Alan, and Prometheus.
"When Cthulhu Comes Rising, Six Shall Turn him Back." -- WJR
"Riiight," said Deb, tossing some of her black hair out of her eyes. "Actually, isn't it seven, counting yourself?"
"Ah, but I am immanent and ineffable, so I don't really count. Mind you, I suppose the same could be said for your good or necessary self under normal circumstances too..." The being scratched its head behind one ear. "Anyway, with all these rather overweening fictional characters ramping around, I thought I ought to come out of the machine and set things straighter." The being pointed to Artu and Isidore. "You two for a start. Whoever heard of cyborg aardvarks?" (Or bionic warthogs,) Isidore retorted. (There's a hell of a lot to set straight.) "Just another day at the office for me," the being shrugged. "Besides, I'm dying for a good coffee: don't suppose you could be a good female anthropomorphic representation of the ultimate reality and put the kettle on, could you Deborah?" Deb rolled her eyes and dismounted.
"If it wasn't you, I'd tell you where to get off..." she snapped. "But there's no gainsaying an order from the top. Not even with Cthulhu around." The being looked at her appealingly. "Cthulhu can wait, my dear: I've been looking forward to meeting you all, and I'd like to start with a civilised introduction." The being's ears suddenly grew a little longer than they had done, and there was something wagging from the back of the figure's form. <Oh, my....> Prometheus groaned.
"...God?" stammered Orusagoon, aghast.
"Woof," said the Supreme Being and First Author, and stuck his tongue out at them, seemingly unaware of the seriousness of his misspelling. --TL
Well, well, well... Cthulhu gloated in a voice like fingernails down a blackboard. It seems His Divine Yappiness has suffered something of an error. That's the thing about gods... far too much power... when even they can't stop themselves, they can do themselves a lot of harm very quickly. His facial tentacles quivered, and he and the Tribe Of Gum advanced slowly on the Six. I, on the other hand... am not quite omnipotent... but for you, I assure you I shall be quite sufficient.
Then God barked... and the universe changed. The first sign Isidore felt of it was one of freedom. His shape was no longer locked. As one, two stainless steel aardvarks reared up on their hind legs, their shapes flowing, changing, until two morphant-cyborg cops stood, once more ready to do battle, as before, except that now a symbol was emblazoned on each of their chests- a circle, quartered by a cross. Prometheus and Alan stepped up beside them, their shaggy coats now hardened, armourforms like crude yet powerful versions of Isidore and Artu's own.
<Oh my Dog, an upgrade!> Prometheus sounded happy enough to choke. <I'm running Linux...> Alan's expression told a similar tale. Similar armourforms flowed and took shape over the forms of Eelalog and Deb, although in their case augmented by hooded cloaks in something half way between cloth and steel... and in Deb's case perhaps unnecessarily 'feminine' in sculpted shape. She paused, looking down at herself, and then giving God a cryptic glance.
"All right, I know it's traditional, but if I can't bloody move." Her eyes glowed momentarily, and the outfit became a little looser of fit.
Artu flexed one hand, his fingers growing and shrinking in time with the movement, and glared at the Tribe of Gum. It looks as though Divine Intervention's on our side for once. Shall we...
COLLISION ALERT! COLLISION ALERT! Saitra's voice, a little panicky, sounded from the bridge.
(How can we have a collision inside an empty... oh.) Isidore stared through a porthole.
"Woof!" said God, knocking Isidore out of the way as he put his paws up on the edge of the porthole to look out. Then he whined and dropped down, hanging his head. They were heading towards something. A moon, to judge from the size of it, but discoid, and yellow, punched through in four equally spaced holes near the centre, like a giant, yellow, button, hanging in space.
(That mangy mutt's triggered a Reality Dysfunction!) Isidore yelled. One of the authors of the Fiction Fellow Ship ran through, paused, and shouted something about intellectual property theft, before spilling a glass of water over God, who for some reason began to grow in size. The ship tumbled closer to the moon.
You have to tell him to get us out of here! Cthulhu sounded as panic-stricken as the rest of them now. Artu looked at him suspiciously, and the Elder God snapped Look, I don't want to end up as sushi any more than the rest of you do!
How do I get someone who can't speak any more to issue a divine command properly? Artu gestured out of the window. You saw what happened when he tried to bark one! He needs syntax...
(Bark! Woof, that's it!) Isidore grabbed his fellow cyborg by the shoulders and grinned. (Artu, old son, your pop culture's going to save us!) He knelt down in front of God. (Come on, Your... Youness... would you like to take us all out of this madness and back to reality?) God's tongue hung out. (And get your proper form back into the bargain. One bark for yes?)
(Yes!) Isidore celebrated as the ship disappeared from around them, and in short order four morphant cyborg cops, one Wiki Zen Master, one anthropomorphic personification of the Ultimate Reality, and one Rather Important Dog shimmered into place... in the central chamber of Wiki on Zool. Then, with a rather surprised bark, the dog changed shape, back into the ageless and faceless divinity... whose divine robes had unfortunately been left behind during his canine interlude, and who had none the less still had water- albeit fictional water- poured over his head. Deborah, wordlessly, and with her eyes averted, handed the dripped upon Naked God her cloak, which wrapped around Him and turned into a full dress suit in less than a second.
Oh... er... well done Is. Artu sounded rather abashed.
(You see,) Isidore crowed to Artu, (It is possible to pull off a deus ex machina... (no offence, sir) at the last minute without making the situation incredibly worse. We're back on Zool, Saitra's stuck in the Fiction... and good luck to her, and now we've got God on our side to deal with Google... and...) he became aware that Deb was looking at him rather coldly. (What?) "And what about the other 'people' who were with us? Cthulhu? The Shoggoths?" (Err...)
++Alert! Wiki suddenly shouted, and projected an image. The Earth in space. Google... and more... a vast cloud of green objects- the toy Shoggoths. Coalescing, joining, taking on a vast and terrible form. As the Six looked on in horror, Google moved to the apex of that structure, his many armed form suddenly quite different... a face, the arms not arms but tentacles as Google's true form was revealed.
"The face of Cthulhu..." Alan whispered. The Shoggoths had merged totally now, and the evil malice of Cthulhu and Google combined- for they were truly one- gazed out through terrible black eyes, as the giant Beast reached out towards the Earth barely half its size...
Is, Artu remarked. You brought the Elder God Cthulhu into the real world. You're a lemon. -- WJR
To be continued in Zool V Chapter Nine...
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