(Back to Zool V Chapter Two )
Deep in the realms of cyberspace, Wiki was becoming increasingly alarmed. Things were most certainly not going according to plan.
++Alert, it warned its troops, ++high possibility compromise. Assistance required.
<Oh dear,> mumbled Prometheus, <looks like we've rather had it.> (Yeah, and no thanks to you, bro,) Isidore snapped. (What were you thinking of?) All right, I lost my temper for a moment and swore a bit, that's all. This place is getting absurder by the minute, if you ask me. "E is for Urgent..." wailed a voice from within. Oh, do pipe down Ringo. It's hard enough being a mech-suit to a Beatle without being a mech-suit to a wriggler. "Back to the matter in hand," Alan coughed, "we're sat out here in geostationary orbit with a psychotic search engine that appears to think it's a primate. Constructive comments, anybody?"
Suddenly, out of the blue, several long-tongued and furry objects with six arms materialised briefly, before succumbing to the vacuum and being devoured by the all-swallowing maw of Google. Another squadron of kamikaze-bears appeared, and then another. The last of the Corporation's valiant Copywrongers were staging a desperate fightback in order to save their ancient vaults. "They're slowing it down," Sergeant Boyes cried, staring at the readouts with a cybotic eye. "Quick - emit more bears - while it's still occupied - !"
This is ridiculous, scoffed Artu. Who's sending these things out? (I don't know and I don't care. This happens to be my planet, and I demand precedence over these blithering morons when it comes to its fate. Listen, I've an idea. I think I've just about got control over the transdimensional energy conduits now: if I can reverse the polarity of the neutron flow...) ...you'll be a walking zap-gun. Is, why didn't you tell us that when it might have been useful? (Because,) Isidore replied acidly, (I might have blown up the universe if I wasn't careful. Transdimensional energy's highly unpredictable. So you'd better brace yourselves: I plan to give your pet monster one frell of a headache. Three... two... one...) Isidore swept his arms forward in a casting motion, and a shockwave of pure energy swept outwards, slamming into Google head-on.
The leviathan, now crushing a few communications satellites with his fists, dodged the blast, the energy wave barely catching his smallest finger before sweeping harmlessly into space. (Damn,) muttered Isidore. (Missed.) Incredibly, GoogleJuice seemed to be more amused than hurt. He sucked on the affected finger. ^Mm. Tangy. Nice aperitif, toots.^
<We are doomed,> sighed Prometheus. --TL
(Nonono!) Isidore waved his arms about as GoogleJuice swept on towards Earth. (There's got to be something we can do!)
"Wait a minute!" Alan-Breck gasped. "I think I've got it... when you two were brought into the Zool penetentiary... you tore open a rift between the physical world and the Galactic Internet... that's how Google was able to cross into the real universe."
"Hey, I get your drift, man," Ringo said from inside Artu. "That means we can get help." Artu made a confused noise. "We've got access to the Internet- and what's the Internet full of?" There was a pause. GoogleJuice idly chewed on the moon.
(Pornography is going to save the world?) Isidore enquired.
No! Artu exclaimed. The other thing... childhood nostalgia... Kids TV. Hundreds of sites, all over the Net. We've got access to the biggest army of superheroes in any multiverse.
<But we can't get back to Zool... I can't even remember how we escaped.>
"Hey, that's no problem," Ringo drawled. "I'll whistle up some help." And he did. As Artu and Isidore wondered what good whistling would to in the vacuum of space, they heard a distant answering whistle and then a light... no, a line of lights, ten of them, tearing across space from the rough direction of Zool, Death Planet Where the Intractable Criminals of Ten Thousand Worlds... etc, anyway.
Ten steam engines, in various gaudy colours, smiling faces on the front of each, charged across the interstellar gulf, whistles blowing cheerfully, and sped past GoogleJuice, knocking him away from the moon and sending him flying, bouncing off him again and again as he tried to recover. A small bright green tank engine with its water tanks like a curved 'saddle' hump over its boiler head-butted the Search Chimp and cheered.
"PEEP PEEP Eat my ash, Google!" A blue tank engine pulling two coaches with the number one on its side pulled up next to them. "Sorry about the delay, Ringo... and sorry about Percy... we never should have let him play with Bart Simpson."
"That's all right Thomas... but listen, we need to get back to Zool fast- do we need a ticket to ride?" Thomas laughed. "You, Mr Starr? No way, hop into Annie and Clarabel... Next stop, Zool!" They all hurried aboard, and Thomas raced away. The trains would only keep GoogleJuice busy for a short time. Isidore sat gazing out of the window as Artu unmorphed from around Ringo and returned to his usual shape.
(We're thundering across interstellar space in a pretend steam train. This is getting surreal.) Getting surreal? Is this the first time you've opened your eyes today? (Are you sure this is a good idea?) Trust me. (Trust you? You invoked Google, you nit!) "Hey, don't worry," Ringo told them. "This is just a magical mystery tour."
They raced on, diving screaming into the atmosphere of Zool, Thomas' brakes squealing, before plunging into the labyrinth of the penetentiary. They flashed past Sally and a swarm of Autons, their shots scorching Clarabel's paintwork.
<We'll have trouble with them when we try to come out> Prometheus gloomily predicted. Then, finally, they crashed through the searing white light into the datascape... a castle. A giant, green castle with a sword standing quivering, half buried in the Earth in front of it. With a cheery "PEEP" Thomas was gone, leaving the five alone.
"Now what?" Alan asked. Ringo grasped the sword. "OK... uh... Isidore... you're kind of a robot... you radio the Autobot Transformers... tell them we need their help to save the day. If they object just lie and say you think GoogleJuice might be a Decepticon. Artu, can you contact the Thundercats?" Artu nodded. Cats, eh? he mused, and quickly morphed into a tiger shape- unfortunately a green tiger with yellow stripes. Sorry... I'll fix that in a minute.
<And what,> Prometheus wondered, <Are you going to do?> Ringo pulled the sword free and, standing in front of the skull-like front gate of the castle, raised it high over his head.
"You don't say," cackled the gate in a voice not unlike that of Julian Clary, and then, "Ooh, my," as Ringo turned into a huge and well-muscled superoaf in a technicoloured flowing cloak swirling around mesomorphic shoulders Akira-style. "Right, den," said Ringo, "time to power up the Wayback Machine. C'mon you two, work to do." "I'll see you later, munchkin," winked the skull-gate.
(Oh, not another one,) sighed Isidore in a voice that now reflected his outward shape as a heavily-armoured cyborg built along the lines of a tank, i.e. a booming one. Shuddup, Artu growled in convincing catlike manner, fingering a newly-materialised scarlet-and-black medallion, we've got superheroes to summon. (Already done,) Isidore objected, (I'm just waiting for those sons of cybernetic hazmots to turn up, y'know?) Riight. Well, I'm choosing my moment. Too many demands on the net and we'll have a slowdown on loading, and every microsecond counts -
The castle exploded in a white fireball as soon as the gate had closed: Isidore swung forward and deflected the shockwave away from the more vulnerable Artu, who glimpsed amongst the debris rolling like tumbleweeds in the wind a curious panoply of objects - a baby's ball in gaudy stripes, a cartoon anvil, a cutlass, several fluttering books, a flotilla of animate broomsticks, one of which clung briefly to Isidore's arm by its bristles before the megaborg shook it off, various hats, an icon of two lips... What the frell? Artu yelled above the wind. (Not good,) Isidore boomed back, then (Get down!) in considerably more alarm, as the fireball was replaced by a weird wormholeoid portal from which were swarming... a seemingly infinite number of twittering Ewoks. A swarm of deafeningly twittering, twenty-foot-high Ewoks. (Prometheus!!) roared Isidore, above the stampede. (What the YOTZ was that for?) The swarm of Ewoks seemed to be without end... but now it was joined by a bizarre collection of charging warriors. Klingons? (Talk about lack of imagination.) I suppose they're the most popular downloads, but this is ridiculous... (Can't hear you!) The roar of giant Ewoks and Klingons had become overwhelming. And then they fell silent. A ray of inexplicable light fell on a flitter that had suddenly appeared in the sky above the chaos.
The heavens within and above Zool suddenly rang to the resonant voice of Ringo Starr, Superoaf.
"Only one army can be sent to fight the evil of Google. Let the Battle of the Five Armies begin!!" --TL
Elsewhere, deep in Wikispace, Wiki looked at the last 20 minutes RecentChanges for the universe, and doubleboggled. Then it looked Twenty Minutes into the Future.
Deep inside Zool, there was a brief silence. Then a large red and blue robot with a chest something like the front of an articulated lorry and a big metal plate for a mouth appeared, and looked up at the flitter.
#Er... we're all great heroes... we only kill evil people. The Thundercats aren't evil... neither are the Masters of the Universe or the Klingons. The Ewoks... OK, they're bloody annoying, but they're not what I'd call evil... I mean, they don't have purple badges or anything,# he said in an electronic John Waynesque voice.
Hear here! Artu shouted. We're all on the same side!
"No way, man!" Ringo the Superoaf cried. "Peace and love are for losers."
(A Beatle said that?)
<I believe they're trying to rebrand themselves.>
#Look, you scouse git,# Optimus Prime boomed, #Freedom is the right of all sentient beings, and no frelling way are we going to attack our fellow heroes! Clear?#
"The Star Wars toys are out-selling you." Ringo murmured. Prime mused for a moment, massaging his non-existent chin with one huge blue hand.
#OK, kill the Ewoks!# he yelled to his troops, and an army of giant robots surged forwards, but before they could attack a sudden burst of flame obscured them momentarily, and a huge crater opened in the ground where Castle Greyskull had been. Only a small pool of melted cheap green plastic remained. Artu stared at it wildly, as Alan Breck grabbed his shoulder.
"Oh, my user, Artu, your arm!" Artu looked down at himself. His left arm had been blasted off at the elbow.
<Oh well, at least it wasn't your right arm.> Prometheus commented.
I'm left handed. Oh, the agony. Artu sighed and reached down to retrieve his errant limb. Metal flowed and fused, and the joint meshed together once more. How will I ever recover?
(When you've quite finished being sarcastic....) Isidore squeaked, pointing upwards. Artu and the others followed his gaze. Five more armies hovered in the air overhead. Five nastier, more heavily armed looking armies. (Care to explain that?)
Ah. Artu might have swallowed nervously, had he been physiologically designed so to do. We took five armies of heroes.
The nearest army, a group of robots much like the Autobots, dived down towards Optimus Prime's forces. Their leader, a grey robot bearing an enormous cannon on one arm, bellowed,
#Decepticons, attack!# and crashed into Prime, only to be knocked flying as the Autobot leader jumped back to his feet.
#Grimlock, Blaster, Perceptor!# Optimus shouted to the three closest of his warriors, #Transform and roll out!# There was an almighty sound of machinery, and the three warriors twisted and reshaped themselves, and soon a metal Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Cassette player, and a microscope were rolling very slowly across the battlefield towards the descending Decepticons. There was a brief, embarrassing silence, and Prime buried his face in his hands.
#Prowl,# he said to another robot, #Take a memo. In future only use catchphrase when talking to robots with car modes.# -- WJR
The War of the Ten Armies continued bloodily. The twenty-foot Ewoks were confronted with platoon after platoon of stormtroopers of every possible design - how this was possible sent Prometheus' RAM reeling - but the stormtroopers quickly discovered there were a few scale problems. The Ewoks jabbered something amongst themselves: Ewok was not one of Prometheus' known languages, but the body language alone spelt trouble for the troopers. Annoyedly, the Ewoks chittered at the little pests at their feet, before half a dozen of them at a time squashed the enemy in droves. One Ewok got up rather smartly, clutching its backside, having just sat on an AT-AT. <No contest,> Prometheus cheered his troops on. <It's a walkover.> And it was, literally. <Who needs Jedi?>
Down at ground level, the battle was being fought a little more evenly, but the enemy was no less outclassed. Artu and Cheetara matched move for move in a blinding display of multi-fu that sent the assorted stormtroopers and mutants reeling in all directions. A similar explosion of bodies at the opposite end of the field indicated where Lion-O and Panthera were also fighting back-to-back. Perhaps we could meet again sometime? "Easy, tiger," Cheetara laughed. Speaking of which... Artu pointed to a Decepticon currently being set upon by Wilykit and her bag of tricks. #Little female... I will... kill you...!# the fighter-plane-shaped thing shouted in fury, shortly before it exploded. Now where are the Masters of the Universe when you need them? exclaimed Artu, as three more Decepticons rushed into the fray.
(Hey, Prime,) Isidore yelled, pointing, (have we any aircraft-morphs? We have to get after that flitter!) Sure enough, the Superoaf's limousine was silently stealing away under cover of the din. Optimus Prime shook his head. (That's the Decepticons' speciality, isn't it? Frell.) Isidore ran, jumped... and took off, propelled by twin streams of energy. Optimus looked from his hands to the ascending Isidore, and boggled.
Cheetara froze in horror. Luckily for her, the vision came between battles. What is it? "The future..." she gasped. "We're under a greater threat than we knew. The internet has been destabilised... something new is emerging from the shadows." What d'you mean -? Artu whipped round. From the direction into which the Superoafmobile had been about to vanish, a new swarm emerged... Oh, Gods, I know what it is.
HUNGRY HUNGRY HUNGRY REPLICATE REPLICATE
went the swarm of identical bacterialike creatures, globbing their way out of the wormhole. Artu paled. The connection wasn't secure enough. We pulled out five armies, Zool pulled out five... and we forgot to shut the door.
Inside the Federation starship Vengeance, Kirk turned to Servalan. "I presume these aren't Klingons on our starboard bow, dearest." "I don't care what they are," Servalan shot back, "as long as they are very dead when you're finished with them."
(Frell,) Isidore stammered, hovering before the onslaught. (We've got a worm on the premises.) --TL
To be continued in Zool V Chapter Four...
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