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Sfstory Log 055

Date:         Sun, 18 Oct 1992 10:28:21 EDT
From:         John P Bankert (xman at DYNAMIX.COM)
Subject:      SF: THIS SPACE FOR RENT #1

     "Calliope, why am I doing this?"
     "Because I have inspired you to, Silly Boy."
     "Um, yeah, but WHY did you inspire me to?"
     The Muse Calliope affected a somewhat tragic look with which to lay low
CHAOS Engineer before gifting him with a reply.  "Because."
     CHAOS Engineer's body posture betrayed that he had just been frustrated
and annoyed, similar to the emotional response of a small child being denied a
favorite toy.  "I see.  It's going to be one of THOSE things."
     Calliope smiled a satisfied smile, and sprinkled a small amount of
Golden Muse Dust on CHAOS Engineer.  Moments later, his face blank and eyes
glazed, Calliope guided CHAOS Engineer over to his OmniVAX workstation and
seated him.  Whispering the word "go" in his ear, Calliope stood back and
watched as CHAOS Engineer began typing furiously.

THIS SPACE FOR RENT #1  "Something Furious This Way Comes..."
by John P Bankert

     A solitary figure lay in the sun, absorbing tanning rays of epic
proportion on a beach as close to perfect as any beach could be.  The figure
had been laying on his towel for how long no one knows for sure, but thanks to
his incredible authorial abilities, his skin was only now reaching a nice,
light, brown color.  His reverie was interrupted by a large shadow passing over
him, accompanied by a low rumbling.  The rumbling grew louder for a moment,
then subsided.  The figure, thinking the interruption over, began to let his
mind blank again when a man sized shadow blocked the sun over his face and
chest, opening his eyes, the sun bather saw a familiar face peering back down
at him.
     "Ah, Time Agent 357.  Long time, no see.  You're blocking my sun.
Would you mind moving?  Grab some beach, why don't ya?"
     "I am VERY cross with you, Mr CHAOS Engineer.  You did the same thing
to me twice, and nobody gets away with that."
     "I did what to you twice 357?"
     "Left me hanging at a crucial plot junction.  Last time you told me
Satan used an Apathy Ray.  What's your excuse this time?"
     "I didn't know I needed one."
     "Of course you do!  I have a personal services contract with you,
guaranteeing me episodes, bandwith, and a great many other things."
     "Yeah, so?"
     "If you don't ante up, I may be tempted to sue for breach of contract,
not to mention that ASFOC will be notified."
     "ASFOC?  What the hell is that?"
     "Association of SFStOry Characters.  It's a UNION, Mr Engineer."
     "Oh."  thought CHAOS to himself, thinking of recent events involving
union reps.  "What do you want?"
     "Have you been down the beach recently?"
     "You should go, you know."
     "Because!  Down the beach is the home for abandoned characters!  You
should see them all.  Mark Hyperthrust, Trudy Tetwaters, Bing Von Spleen, and
those are only a few.  It's so sad!  You've got to do something!"
     "So you're saying you want work.  For you, or the characters, or
     "For everyone.  I was there last month and saw Omegas and Connifer
Green playing checkers."
     "Connie Green and Omegas playing checkers?  Hard to imagine them being
civil to each other, but Omegas has work now.  He's under contract with The
     "So?  The others aren't.  I want SFStory the way SFStory was meant to
     "Times change 357.  I'm a busy man now, I don't have time to provide
work for everybody, and in case you hadn't noticed, SFstory isn't what it
used to be, and I don't think it will ever be what it was."
     "I don't agree.  Look at what The Swede's doing.  Hell going public,
people fighting for spots on the board of directors, even the position of
chairman is being contested.  That's very SFStory.  You can do something,
or do I need to bring ASFOC and my lawyers into this?"
     "Ok, Ok.  I'll do something.  I can't make any guarantees as to who or
how much, but I'll do something.  I have other priorities now that can't be
changed, no matter what you threaten."
     "Very well.  But don't stiff me on this one, because I'll make you
miserable if you do, priorities or no.  You'll wish you had never heard of
me, ASFOC, my lawyers, SFStory, and anything else I can think of."  Time
Agent 357 spun on his heel and stalked back to his ship.  CHAOS watched
as the HMS Golden Lance lifted off and warped away.  Sighing, CHAOS stood
up, shook the sand out from his towel, and began walking up the beach
toward his office, cursing himself for ever putting a door in his bungalow
leading to his stretch of the Author's beach in Netherspace.
     CHAOS Engineer looked about the Netherspace Office from which he
conducted all his SFStory business.  The months of disuse showed, a heavy
layer of dust covering everything.  Certainly an annoyance, but easy to
take care of with a quick spot of editing
     His office clean, CHAOS sat behind the his desk and began to take stock
of what was left to work with.  He discarded the old 357 plot line immediately,
since Omegas had been found.  The Challenger II story line was iffy at best,
and he had never been sure where that was headed.  Best off scrapping it.  The
Han and Lando story line had good potential, but unfortunately was of no
immediate use since it had been moved from altiverse 000SF.  Looks like a
completely fresh start, he thought to himself.  Going to need a villain.
Omnipotent type, a true challenge for the forces of good.  Satan always seems
to be a good choice for that sort of thing.  Thought firmly in hand, CHAOS
Engineer called up the vid-phone to place a call to Satan, when he
remembered that Satan was not in charge of Hell any more.
     "Altiversal Telephone & Telegraph, how may I help you?"
     "Connect me to Nicolo Machiavelli please"
     "One moment please."
     I hate phone operators, CHAOS thought, as the vid-phone screen was
filled up with the AT&T logo while the call was being put through.  Wrapped in
his thoughts, CHAOS startled when his call was connected.
     "Can I help you, Mr Engineer?"
     CHAOS looked up and let his gaze fall upon the picture before him for
a short moment, taking in the alterations Machiavelli had made.  "Yes,
Machiavelli, I believe you can.  You're a profit minded individual, and I
have a business proposition for you."
     "You're not going to try and buy up the remaining twenty five percent
of Hell, Inc stock are you?"
     "What?  No, as a rule I don't invest in start up companies."
     "Sir, I would hardly call Hell, Inc a start up company.  Hell, Inc has
been in business for a very long time, and has only recently gone public.
Start Up Company, Indeed!"
     "Er, sorry, didn't mean to offend you.  Actually, I need a unique
service only you can provide, and I'm willing to pay you quite handsomely
for it."
     "And what might that be?"  Machiavelli hedged.
     "I have a nuisance I need eliminated, and with your unlimited man
power and control of the Hypernet, I thought it would be extremely simple
for you to send out one of the fleets of Hell, Inc and hunt him down."
     "A fleet for one man?  Who is he?"
     "Time Agent 357."
     "Ah, that one.  I have heard of him.  What's he done to bother you?"
     "Well, I made the mistake of engaging him in a personal services
contract, and now he's giving me grief about holding up my end.  I don't
have time to write him a story line or deal with his lawyers.  Getting rid
of him is the most expedient solution, and your firm is the most capable I
could find for providing expedient expediency."
     "Why don't you just edit him out of existence?"
     "Contractual obligations.  There's a no edit-out clause.  Besides, if
there weren't, I'd be the most likely suspect investigated in his
disappearance, and it would be another distraction I don't need.  357 leads
a risky existence, and him getting lambasted by your firm wouldn't raise
any suspicions."
     "I don't know.  It could be dangerous.  I have the safety of my
employees to worry about."
     "Safety?  They're already dead!  What could possibly happen to them?"
     "Don't waffle, Nicolo, you don't have the face or the voice for it."
     "Don't use that tone of voice with me, or I'll do worse than singe
your eyebrows off."
     "Don't threaten me, just tell me how much you want to do the job.  I
know you're interested."
     "Five billion dollars."
     "That's awfully steep.  How about a billion?"
     "How bad do you want to hire my company?"
     "One point seven five."
     "I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that."
     "Two point two five."
     "Four point five."
     "Two point five."
     "I might start going up again if you don't negotiate with a little
more faith."
     "Two point seven five."
     "Four point two five."
     "Three point two five."
     "Four even."
     "Three point five, and that's three times what the job's worth."
     "Three point seven five is as low as I go."
     "Three six?"
     "Three seven five.  Take it or leave it."
     "Done, then.  Here's a copy of the contract I drew up."
     "You drew up?"
     "I'm contracting you for the services, and I'm not signing anything
you provide.  I like my soul where it is, and wouldn't care to loose it
thanks to some hidden claus in a contract."
     "You don't mind if I read this first, do you?"
     "Go ahead."
     "Ok, I will."  Machiavelli mumbled to himself as he read.  "I, Nicolo
Machiavelli, proprietor and CEO of Hell, Inc, do agree to provide the
service of eliminating the entity know as Time Agent 357 for the agreed sum
of three point seven five billion dollars.  Payment will be rendered when
satisfactory proof is offered by me to CHAOTIC Enterprises.  In the event
that sufficient proof cannot be rendered, this contract shall be considered
null and void."  Machiavelli looked below to where CHAOS Engineer had
already signed for CHAOTIC Enterprises.  Green energy shot from his eyes,
etching his signature into his copy and the copy of CHAOS Engineer.  "Done,
then.  I'll dispatch someone in the morning."
     "That will be sufficient.  A pleasure doing business with you

ALL THIS AND MORE COMING UP ON .... SFStory - It's not just a job, it's
several hamsters on LSD grooving with a Pict!
Date:         Sun, 18 Oct 1992 22:09:00 EDT
From:         welcome to the faith dome explosion (SWEDE at DRYCAS.BITNET)
Subject:      SF: Renegade Anarchists, episode twenty-one

Episode Twentyone: "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Earth We Go" by Gary W. Olson

     "No, no, please don't touch that," Susan B. Anthony said.  Dan Quayle
ignored her and pushed the button, causing the ferns in the lobby to wrap
themselves around him.  Quayle did not scream, he merely looked about as
though he had just said something funny, with a sort of dumb grin on his
face.  Seconds later, he was consumed whole by the ferns, which shrank to
their regular, placid state.  The next Dan Quayle in line moved up and
pressed the button.  Susan simply gave up and got out of the way, pushing
through the throngs of Quayles to the door to Machiavelli's inner office.
     "Sir!" she exclaimed as she pounded.  "I believe I have something that
requires your immediate attention!  Sir!"  She heard no movement from
within.  Machiavelli had said something about meditating, and it was usually
wise to refrain from trying to talk to him during those times.  Yet, she
felt, the situation demanded it.
     She was about to pound on the door again when the doors were flung open
wide and Machiavelli strode out briskly.  "Ah, Ms. Anthony!  I was just on
the phone with CHAOS Engineer.  Here's the contract he faxed over.  Dis--
er, excuse me?"  Machiavelli said, as a Quayle tapped him on the shoulder.
     "Hi, I'm Dan Quayle," the Quayle who had tapped him on the shoulder said.
He held out his hand.  Machiavelli took the hand, and jumped back as Dan's
joy buzzer zapped him.  Growling, Machiavelli took Quayle's hand and shook it
vigorously, detatching it in the process.  Quayle looked at his severed limb
like a dog might look at differential calculus.
     "What are all these morons doing in my office?" Machiavelli asked,
striving to elevate his voice over the multiple sounds of the Nintendo "Game-
boys" that each Quayle inevitably had.  Someone kicked Machiavelli in the
butt, so Machiavelli spun and fried the offending Quayle.  He was kicked
again, and spun and fried the Quayle.  Susan peeled the "kick me" sign off
of Machiavelli's back and taped it on the back of one of the Quayles, who
proceeded to try to kick himself.
     "Hey, get out of there!" Machiavelli shouted, as Quayles flowed into
his inner office.  One of them stepped on the button that controlled the flame
level in the office, and green flames jetted up, toasting them.  "Hmmm, not
a bad idea."  Susan ducked for cover just as a thousand points of green light
shot from him, each lance hitting a Quayle and dissolving him.  Soon, both
the inner and outer office were clear of Quayles, though Machiavelli could
hear them in the hallway.  "Ms. Anthony..."
     "We're not exactly sure how it happened, sir," Susan said, choosing her
words carefully.  "It was as though the air all around us was opening, like
a Vicks Vap-o-rub commercial gone horribly wrong.  When the holes closed
again, we had five billion copies of Dan Quayle wandering around.  Killing
them doesn't diminish their number, as they just go to Hell, so to speak, and
return here.  Nor does the compiling mechanism, the process that ensures that
there will be only one of a given entity, regardless of how many altiverses
that entity has died in, in Hell, seem to be affecting the situation any.
Preliminary studies indicate that all of them came from Earth in the Superguy
Altiverse, and that one of our own ships was used to assist in the transfer."
     "One of our own...Truman!" Machiavelli snapped.  "Him, Perkins, and that
screaming guy, Kinison.  I want them in here!"
     "We don't know where they are, right now," Anthony said.  "But our agents
are looking for them.  They report it was the Defense Squad that aided them
in sending all the Quayles over."
     "And thus fulfilling the outstanding contract with George Bush," Machia-
velli said.  "Well, when they're captured, have them brought in, a piece at
a time, if necessary.  Anyway, as I was saying, I just got off the phone with
CHAOS Engineer, and have secured a multi-billion dollar contract with him for
the termination of a specific individual: Time Agent 357."
     "Don't tell me he sold his soul," Susan said.  "Even Satan wasn't able--"
     "Who?" Machiavelli said, looking at her with narrowed eyes.
     "Er, nobody," Susan replied.  "So who should I call back to command this
expedition?  All of our ships are out in the galaxy, working to increase our
marketing share (which, I might add, is up another 666%, after that last add
with the porsches and stuff)."
     "Choose our best fleet commander," Machiavelli ordered.  "Let him choose
his own command staff, including outside personnel, if necessary."
     "What about troops?" Susan asked.
     "Hmmmm...he'll want more troops, certainly," Machiavelli mused.  "Well,
I certainly can't spare troops - I already have them working in their most
effective deployments possible.  I wonder..." Machiavelli looked at the
contract again.  "Ms. Anthony, please call the army quartermaster, and have
him prepare for a large order of new uniforms."
     "Sir, you can't seriously mean..."
     "Why not?  Since I'm appointing my best fleet commander, I can argue I'm
pursuing our agreement in good faith.  If he complains that the Quayles are
slowing up the mission, I'll simply transfer him to our legal department.  We
can afford the delay in payment, since our stock is doing so well.  Now,
I know this will only take care of a very small fraction of the Quayles
presently on board, but it's a start.  We'll have to find other ways to dispose
of the rest."  Machiavelli flung open the doors to the outer office, revealing
a hallway packed with Quayles, who did not seem to recognize that the door had
been opened, and kept pressing the door bell.  "Gentlemen!  Are you ready to
be all you can be?"
     "Will you turn off that racket?" Satan T. Lucifer Jones, or Lucifer T.
Jones, as he was also known for absolutely no discernable reason.  Shadebeam
ignored him, and continued playing Faith No More's "Angel Dust" CD at ear-
splitting volume, while Benchen, Katayin, and Gham listened attentively.
     "It's almost done, redface," Shadebeam said, toying with her ear-to-
nose chain and flicking her blonde bangs out of her eyes.  Soon, the sound
disappeared, and Satan could take his hands from his ears.  "Okay, that
concludes todays lesson in being cool.  Benchen, that jacket doesn't smell
like cigarettes at all.  What did I tell you?"
     "But I don't like smoking!" Benchen groaned.
     "You don't have to," Shadebeam told him.  "But your jacket should still
smell like smoke.  Go stick it in the drive chamber for a few minutes."
     "Here, I'll take care of it," Satan said.  He took the jacket from
Benchen, and breathed on it.  Nothing happened.  He pushed a button at his
belt, and tried again.  Still nothing.  "Dammit, I forgot.  No power supply."
     "Great," Benchen said, taking the jacket back.  "Now it smells like
garlic and odor eaters."  As he wandered out of the room, Satan slumped to
the chair.  "It's no use.  I'll never get my old job back.  Twenty years from
now I'll be flipping burgers and saying 'Would you like to try one of our
Super-Duper-Schlubbo-Combos?' to snotty teenage brats."
     "Yup, pretty much," Shadebeam said, lighting up a freshly rolled
cigarette, which Satan strongly doubted as to it's containing a tobacco
     "Thanks for the vote of confidence," Satan grumbled, getting a beer out
of the refridgerator.  Jerriphrrt strolled in and Gham jumped up, giving him a
long embrace.
     "We've been cleared by ground control," Jerriphrrt announced.  "From
here, it's clear sailing to planet Earth."  The ship was rocked with violent
explosions.  "Or, maybe not.  Come on!"  Jerriphrrt rushed up a ladder to the
bridge, followed by Gham, Katayin, and Satan.  "What's going on?" he asked.
     "The PLS Tell-Tale Heart!" Emma Goldman shouted.  "Jerriphrrt, get on
the topside guns!  Slithis and Benjen are on the other gun banks."  Jerriphrrt
mrowled and shot up a ladder, his catlike body taking the rungs three at a
     "We're being hailed," Time Agent 173 announced.
     "On screen," Tarrfel t'Krodkzik added.  The front screen was suddenly
filled with the visage of J. Edgar Hoover.  In the background, they could see
Edgar Allen Poe cringing.
     "So, you commies have some guts after all," Hoover said, a thick cigar
clamped between his teeth.  "Well, listen, and listen good.  If you surrender,
you'll be brought in alive, though I think it's more than you deserve."
     "Hoover!" Satan declared.  "Stop this at once!  I'm giving you a direct
     "You're no longer my commander, Jones," Hoover said, blowing smoke at
the visual pickup.  "Niccolo Machiavelli is, and he's a real American!"
     "I thought he was Italian," Shadebeam said.
     "Technicalities," Hoover growled.  "Now, you've got one minute.  Viewer
off."  The image disappeared, replaced by an exterior shot of the PLS Tell-
Tale Heart, a Satanic warship of incredible ferocity and meanness in
appearance, bristling with many nasty weapons, including Hellfire Cannons,
Womens'-Scorn Projectors, and other such horrors.
     "Now, I think, would be a good time to show us what this ship can do,"
Emma said, turning to Satan.  Satan sighed, and reluctantly moved to the
control panel that had all the mysterious, unlabeled switches.
     "This one here, as you well know, is the main firing control switch,"
Satan said.  "However, it's necessary to allow the omninetheroidal energy
collectors to gather the necessary power, which means this weapon can only
be seldom used.  Now, this dial here deals with the setting.  I see you
have it on '1'.  You'll probably want it on '2' for this application.  '3'
is for annihilating solar systems, and so on up to '10'.  Now, this touch-
pad here controls the curvature of time and space in the immediate vicinity
of the ship.  Observe.  If I twist the knob backwards..."  The ship on the
screen suddenly got thin and fat.  "And if I twist it the other way..." the
ship became thin and tall.  The Anarchists giggled.
     "We've got ten seconds..." Emma warned.
     "The guns are ready!" Slithis called from his gun pod.
     "Okay...adjust time and space to allow a blast vector on the weakest
portion of the ship..." Satan said, working feverishly.  "Factor in phase
variance, set the proper power setting, flick the switch..."  Nothing happened.
"Rrrrrrr...okay, maybe *this* one!"  He flicked another switch, and more
nothing happened.
     "One second!" Time Agent 173 yelled.
     "Damn!  I knew I should have labeled these blasted switches!" Satan cried
out.  Zen Navigator leaned forward, his eyes closed, and flicked a switch
at random.  Their senses went white with noise and light.
     "He suspects nothing?" Omegas asked.
     "Nothing," Susan B. Anthony replied.  Next to Omegas, Bennett Quark
grinned, and tossed the control coupling to the compiler mechanism back and
forth between his hands.
     "Never underestimate a mad genius," Quark sang unevenly.
     "We've done what you asked," the Omnipotent Eggbeater said, coming into
the room, followed by the Grand High Spatula.  Outside the door, everyone
could hear crowds of Quayles milling about, trying to get in and failing,
even though the door was unlocked.  "Though I don't see what good including
the Quayles in our scheme to overthrow Machiavelli will do.  He can kill them
off like flies."
     "Or send them off on other ships," Omegas replied.  Next to him, Lenin
shifted uncomfortably, while his companions, Karl Marx, Trotsky, and Mao Tse-
Tung, looked equally uncomfortable.  When they had suggested that Omegas
include the lower classes in his plans, they did not think he would take them
so literally.  "No.  We have been given a great weapon, and we would be fools
to not use it.  'Operation: Moron Power' begins now.  Get to your positions."
     Machiavelli sat in his office, which had finally been Quayle-proofed after
Quayles had gotten through his secret enterance (last seen in RA #13), and
pondered inner space.  His link with the Cosmic Cuisinart was growing stronger
and stronger, filling him with greater power than ever.  He also found that he
did not need Satan's scientific gizmos to manipulate the power of Hell, his
own superevolved form allowing him instant access to Hell's power grid.
     The message regarding the new assignment had been sent to his best fleet
commander, telling him no more save that he was to return to the flagship for
new orders.  Hourus Jebillip had given his report on his plans to use the
Quayles as part of a new promotion for Hell, Inc, and had showed him some new
commercials for Fong's House of Oriental Delights, which ended with the Hell,
Inc. logo showing up in the corner of the screen and a broad-voiced announcer
saying "Our Service is Hell".  Milagro Bekn'kse reported that a second issue
of Hell, Inc. stock was being prepared, with 51% to go to Machiavelli, and
the rest of it to be sold on the galactic stock exchanges, where Hell was the
hottest thing around.
     Machiavelli sat back in his chair, pondering how to thank The Man With
Two First Names for dropping five billion Dan Quayles in his lap.  Suddenly,
the idea hit him.  "Ow!" he said, rubbing his head and picking up the print-
out that had hit him.  "Hmmmm.  Recent Authors Altiverse logs.  Let's see...
oh, heh heh heh.  That Skippy seems to be a nice fellow.  Sort of boy I'd like
to have working for me. seems that the Man With Two First Names is
looking for a job.  I think I'll help him."  He picked up the phone.  "Hello,
Kelly Temps?  This Paul..."

     (NOT) HELP?
Date:         Sun, 25 Oct 1992 19:55:00 EST
From:         mostly harmless (SWEDE at DRYCAS.BITNET)
Subject:      SF: Renegade Anarchists episode twenty-two

Episode Twenty-two: "Zamboni on my Mind" by Gary W. Olson

     "Grrrrraahhhh..." Emma Goldman groaned, lifting herself up.  Even for
a dead person, getting up was not easy, particularly after the blast her
ship, the Red Emma, had unleashed on the PLS Tell-Tale Heart.  Around her,
the other anarchists were rising as well, making similar noises of pain.
     "Power," Zen Navigator said.  "We need to restore power."
     "Grid is coming back online," Tarrfel reported.  "We have sensors."
The main screen lit up, to display the charred pieces that used to be the
PLS Tell-Tale Heart.  "Our ship generated the equivalent of five stars
going supernova, directly channeled into the enemy ship.  I am getting no
AfterLife readings from the wreckage."
     "All the newdead would be sent back to the flagship of Hell," Satan told
her.  "Machiavelli may already know what we have done."
     "In that case, we'd best be on our way," Jerriphrrt said, sticking his
head out of a gun chute.  "Slithis!  Benjen!  Get on the helm and get us out
of here."
     "Get on this, Jerri," Slithis replied, stumbling up from below.  "I hit
my head on the ceiling when the blast occured."
     "Oh, did you hurt yourself?" Shadebeam asked.  "Here, lemme take a look
at it..."
     "Oh, um..." Jerriphrrt said, thinking quickly.  "I hit my head
real bad and all...think I might have a concussion..."
     "You're so heroic, Jerriphrrt," Gham said, getting him an icepack to put
on his head.  "Let me make it all better for you..."
     "Um, I hit my head too!" Benjen said, emerging from a side gun pod and
looking at Katayin.
     "Nice try, dickweed," Katayin snorted.  "Where's Benchen, anyway?"
     "He went down to the drive room to get some smoky smell into his jacket,"
Shadebeam said.  As if on cue, Benchen came in, covered from head to toe in
black soot, with smoke rising from his jacket and his body.
     "How's that?" he said woozily.  Katayin rushed to guide him to a couch.
     "Okay, we've got to get to Earth," Emma said.  "As quickly as possible.
Any ideas?"
     "It'll be guarded," Tarrfel replied.  "The whole system probably will
be, since it's where the Cosmic Cuisinart is located.  And I'm not sure we'll
be able to do the same to every ship in the fleet of Hell that we did to the
PLS Tell-Tale Heart."
     "She's right," Slithis said.  "But what if we use the Hypernet?"
     "Are you out of your mind?" Shadebeam asked, dabbing the bruise on his
forehead with a bit too much ointment.
     "Ow!" Slithis commented.
     "Machiavelli's ships have free access to the Hypernet now," Shadebeam
went on.  "From what we've heard on the subspam radio, traffic is very
heavy there."
     "True," Jerriphrrt added.  "But, if we can slip in behind a Satanic
vessel heading to Earth, we should be able to make it through undetected.
Sensors are almost useless inside the Hypernet, since we are actually reduced
to particles in a data stream, although we don't perceive any change."
     "It's risky, but we'll have to try," Emma agreed.  "Where's the nearest
Eye located?"  Everyone turned to look at Gham.
     "Hold on, I've got to toke up first," she replied, looking peeved.
     "And that's the new line of Hell Power action figures we've begun to
market," Hourus Jebillip said, a bit nervously.  "We've already had great
success with our ad campaigns aimed at young people age 18 to 35 that we've
got room to start going for the younger generations..."
     "Yes, yes, very good," Machiavelli said.  "Keep it up."
     "Sir, I'm not done with my presentation yet..."
     "Yes you are," Machiavelli said, his green eyes flaring.  Hourus gulped
and gathered up the action figures (including Demon Soldier, with Hell Punch
(tm), Demon Commander, and Machiavelli, with Real Laser Action (tm), all
positioned to be sold in the Christmas season) and fled.  "Send in Hoover and
Poe, Ms. Anthony," he said.
     J. Edgar Hoover and Edgar Allen Poe, their uniforms more than a tad
charred, entered, looking deeply unhappy.
     "Well, Mr. Hoover," Machiavelli said, tapping his fingertips together.
"You don't look to well.  I take it that dying again doesn't agree with you."
     "Sir," Hoover said.  "I regret to report that the Red Emma totally
destroyed the PLS Tell-Tale Heart."
     "I see," Machiavelli replied.  "Where did this happen?"
     "In orbit over the planet Wedonknownuthinboutnozamboni," Poe said.  "We
tracked them heading there from the Sage's space station."
     "Then they know about the Zamboni," Machiavelli said.  "Possibly, they
know where it is, even.  If you two sub-amoebic morons had not let them get
away, we might know where they're heading next.  It is clear I am going to
have to punish you."  Machiavelli picked up the phone.  "This is Machiavelli.
Get me General Lee."  He paused.  "Lee, remember you were telling me that
you needed practice dummys for the Quayles I gave you to train into troops
for use in the mission to kill Time Agent 357?  They just walked in."  Hoover
turned to flee, but a blast from Machiavelli's eyes in front of him stopped
him.  Machiavelli put down the phone and pressed a button on his desk.  Two
large demonic guards sauntered through the door, picked up Hoover and Poe
bodily, and carted them out, oblivious to their screams of terror.
     "How is that training program going anyway, Susan?" Machiavelli asked.
Susan B. Anthony entered Machiavelli's office.
     "Difficult," Susan replied.  "Most of the Quayles still haven't figured
out which way to point the Hellfire pistols.  They keep throwing the pins
instead of the grenades, they keep saying 'that's a 10-4, good buddy' after
getting radio orders in mock battle simulations, and just this morning, they
surrendered to a girl scout troop that stopped by to sell cookies.  But, on
the plus side, they did superbly in the computer simulations - apparantly
they're a lot like Nintendo games."
     "What about the other 4.99 billion Quayles?" Machiavelli asked.
     "They're still jamming the ship," Susan said.  "Fortunately, we've been
able to export a quarter of them to other ships in the fleet, and the rest
are more docile then they have been before."
     "Excellent," Machiavelli said, swinging around in his chair.  Susan
left, and the doors closed behind her.
     "You were right," Shadebeam said.  "They don't see us at all!"
     Gham homed them in quickly on the nearest Eye, and they had successfully
slipped in behind a large Satanic warship that was heading towards the Sol
sector, apparantly to pick up some special troops for a special mission of
some kind, from the transmissions they had caught.
     "We should be emerging soon," Emma warned.  "Stay alert."
     "What's a lert?" Gham asked, "And why should we stay one?"
     "Oh, jeez, that's an old joke," Shadebeam groaned.
     "Hey, never knock the classics," Jerriphrrt replied.
     "We're!" Time Agent 173 declared.  As greywhitespace
dissolved into the blackness of ordinary space, the Red Emma peeled off,
darting for the luminous blue planet below.  Strangely, none of the
Satanic ships around the Eye seemed to notice the ship.
     "The power output from the Cosmic Cuisinart might be hampering their
sensors," Satan T. Lucifer Jones told them.
     "We're getting the same sensor interference," Tarrfel reported.  "It
should clear up as we get down into the planetary atmosphere."
     "Well, we're here, then," Emma said.  "But where on Earth is the
     "Not to worry, I will guide you to it!" Zen Navigator declared.
     "How, with your Amazing Moron Awareness?" Shadebeam asked rudely.
     "No, with my Amazing Zen Awareness," Zen Navigator declared heroically,
ignoring the criticism of his navigational skills.
     "Well, he did get us this far," Time Agent 173 admitted.
     "Sure, why not?" Benjen said.  "I don't have anything planned for the
next month."
     "It may not take so long," Tarrfel said.  "I'm getting some weird
readings from the sensors here."
     "Oh, those," Zen said.  "I was just using them earlier.  I forgot to
reset them..."
     "The readings are similar to those from the Hypernet Eyes," Emma said,
leaning over the sensors.  "They're a bit muffled, though, as though they
were being shielded.  It's no wonder the Hell ships above haven't been able
to detect them.  I think we've found our ZAMBONI."
     "You were right, sir," the bridge crew officer said to Machiavelli
said.  "That little ship headed straight for Earth."
     "What is it's destination?" Machiavelli asked.
     "Checking," the officer said.  Lights flashed for a few moments, and
a small slip of paper was spat out.  The officer picked it up, wincing only
briefly as it caught fire in his hands.  "Northern hemisphere, American
continental mass, in the cold belt.  Local indigenous name, Alaska."
     "Alaska...?" Machiavelli said.  "What would the ZAMBONI OF DOOM be
doing in Alaska?  No matter.  Assemble your troops."
     "Will you be accompanying?" the bridge officer asked.
     "No," Machiavelli replied.  "A few anarchists should pose no serious
threat to the troops of Hell.  Besides, what could possibly go wrong?"
     "Welcome back, Susan," Omegas said.  "What have you to report?"
     "The Quayles are causing riots in the southern sector," she said.  "The
people have been led to believe that Machiavelli is the one behind their
sudden influx.  They say there's Hell, then there's this, and they're not
going to take it."
     "Excellent," Omegas replied.  Beside him, the Grand High Spatula shifted
     "The western sector is holding demonstrations," Lenin said.  "We have
several commanders on our side.  It is amazing that Machiavelli has not
learned of this yet."
     "I've been regulating the reports he's been receiving," Susan replied.
"As far as he can tell, he's increased efficiency 666%.  And when he's not
hearing reports on how well stock in Hell, Inc. is doing, he's meditating."
     "Even if we turn everyone in Hell against him," the Omnipotent Egg-
Beater asked,  "What good will it do?  His powers are so great, he could
annihilate us all!  And I haven't even died once!"
     "Trust me," Omegas said.  "Tomorrow, we make our move to unseat him."
     "What is it?" Ragnuruk asked, looking at the massive bones.
     "Some huge, stupid beast," Nat Rephue replied.  They looked in silence
at the bones, which were half buried in the ice and snow.  It seemed to be
clutching a huge piece of processed wood in it's hands, but the natives of
Karma Chameleon II dismissed this as an entire coincidence.
     "This place called 'Alaska' is not very hospitable," Ragnuruk said.
"Is the Toaster repaired yet?"
     "Just finished!" Viol declared, calling from inside the Toaster.  "We
can lift off when ready."
     "Great!" Nat replied.  "We can go out to find the Anarchists again."
     "No need to," Ragnuruk said.  "Look."  Nat looked, and saw the Red
Emma, landing near a large ice mountain in the distance.
     "Perfect," Nat said.  "Let's get this thing going!"
     "Doesn't look like a place where you'd find a ZAMBONI, does it?" Emma
asked, huddling in her coat.
     "I'm getting massive power emenations from inside," Zen Navigator said.
"This is the place."
     "Brrrrr!" Satan declared.  "It's cold here!  I'm freezing!"  Everyone
looked at Satan, who was bundled under layers and layers of coats, sweaters,
wool, a thick snowsuit, boots, mittens, three large wooly hats, and a scarf
around his face.  "Hey, I'm used to hot weather," Satan protested.
     "Right, whatever," Emma said.  "Come along, everyone."  The Anarchists
walked slowly into the large opening in the face of the ice wall, and were
soon lost to sight.

Date:         Wed, 28 Oct 1992 13:02:49 EST
From:         John P Bankert (xman at DYNAMIX.COM)
Subject:      SF: THIS SPACE FOR RENT #2

THIS SPACE FOR RENT #2  "Buenos Dias, Senor"
by John P Bankert

     CHAOS Engineer kicked back, put his feet up on his desk, and looked at
the contract he held in his hand.  Three and three quarters billion dollars
was a lot of money to pay to have one man eliminated, especially since a
fraction of that money could have sent Skippy R Houleehoo packing, but that
was another matter altogether.  If Time Agent 357 wanted work, then by god
he would have it.
     CHAOS was not actually concerned that he would have to pay Machiavelli
either.  The minions of hell, as fearsome as they were, were generally the
most inept around.  If he had really wanted to have Time Agent 357 killed,
he would have hired The Main Man, and it would have cost him considerably
less money.
     Well, time to get this fiasco underway.  He would have to give 357
some plausible excuse to be out and about, traveling the space ways.  As
Time Central's best agent, he normally got the hardest cases to solve.  Mass
murders, acts of piracy, toppling evil dictatorships, parking tickets, the
like.  Therefore, something to frustrate him.  He would have to be assigned a
couple of freshperson Space Heroism Majors.  Checking the roster of out of
work characters, he found two names that would be good.
     "Janine, how was your vacation?"
     "Very nice.  It gave me a chance to catch up on some back reading and
learn how to Lambada."
     "Good, good.  Would you please patch me through to the HMS Golden
     "Certainly, Sir."
     "Mr Machiavelli?"
     "Yes Ms Anthony?"
     "The fleet commander you sent for has arrived."
     "Ah, good, send him in."
     Niccolo Machiavelli switched off his intercom, and assumed a carefully
selected posture designed to put his commander at ease.  Machiavelli put
his feet up on his desk, and lit up a pure Havana cigar.  The outer door
opened, and a large, burley man wearing safari clothing strode in, pausing
briefly to put his elephant gun in the umbrella stand, and crashed into one
of the chairs on the other side of Machiavelli's desk, assuming a rather
casual posture.
     "What do you want?"
     Machiavelli hid his slight irritation at the man's manner.  "I have a
job for you.  Hell, Inc has recently been contracted to provide the
service of eliminating a pesky individual for someone.  Since you are by
far the most qualified fleet commander we have to oversee this mission,
you're here for a briefing."
     The man across from perhaps the most powerful being in existence grunted,
reached onto Machiavelli's desk, took a cigar, bit off one end and spit it
on the floor, and lit the stogie, puffing away contentedly, filling the
office with smoke.  A slight breeze wafted in from an unspecified
direction, clearing the air, and Machiavelli's right pinky began twitching
by the smallest degree.
     "Who's the target?"
     "Time Agent 357."
     "Never heard of him.  What's he done?"
     "Oh, a lot of stuff.  It's all in the briefing packet."  Machiavelli
tossed a sealed folder onto his desk.  The other figure reached and picked
it up.  "357 is a hero's hero, and he's been bothering some people, so he
needs to be eliminated."
     "Did he ever run the bulls at Pamplona?"
     "I don't believe so, no."
     "Can't be a real man, then.  What do I have to work with?"
     "I have a new fleet ready for you, complete with four regiments of our
newest conscript."
     "Newest conscript?  Four regiments of one person?"
     "Yes.  We actually have five billion of him."
     "Who is he?"
     "I thought you had heard.  He's J Danforth Quayle."
     "Quail?  Quails don't come in regiments.  They come in coveys.  Get it
     The twitching in Machiavelli's right pinky increased slightly.
"Quayle, not quail.  One is a small game bird, the other is the Vice
President of the United States."
     "There's a difference?"
     "Probably not.  Your fleet is in dock 666.  Go there immediately, and
make preparations to get underway.  If you have any questions, contact me.
I expect results, and I expect them quickly!"
     "Sure, whatever.  I'm going."
     The commander got up and strode out, pausing only to retrieve his
elephant gun from the umbrella stand.
     Machiavelli, his patience worn thin, stabbed at the intercom button.
     "Yes Sir?"
     "Get me CHAOS Engineer on the phone!"
     "Yes Sir."
     CHAOS Engineer was relaxing at his desk drinking a beer when the video
screen on the wall flared to life.
     "You wanted to talk to me?"
     "Ah, yes, Time Agent 357.  You'll be pleased to know that things are
well in hand, and by the time I'm finished, I'll have emptied out the Home
for Out of Work Characters, although some of them will only have small
bits.  I have made arrangements to see that they'll be well provided for.
Pensions, health benefits, the like.  A very nice plan, really."
     "That's nice.  What about the immediate short term?"
     "Well, I've been chatting with a Professor SchleemelSchlaker.  He's
the head of the Space Heroism department over at Galactic U, and it seems
that a couple of his students have current mailing addresses that agree with
the one for the for the character's home in Netherspace.  They're a bit
behind on their course work, and he feels that a nice stint with a working
space hero, sort of an internship, if you will, would work wonders for
getting them caught in their curriculum.  I have the names here somewhere."
CHAOS Engineer riffled through the stack of papers on his desk, finally
pulling one out.  "Ah, here we are.  The two in mention are Mark
Hyperthrust and Trudey Tetwaters.  They currently belong to the freshman
class at GU."
     A deep frown creased 357's face.  "Is something wrong, 357?"
     "Freshmen?  Space Heroism Majors from Galactic University???  Are you
out of your mind???"
     CHAOS managed to look genuinely wounded and surprised.  "I'm shocked
that you are so insensitive as to not be concerned about the education of
young people!  I've gone to a great deal of trouble to arrange this.
You'll have to go through with it."
     "I absolutely will *not* go through with this fiasco.  I refuse."
     CHAOS Engineer raised one eyebrow.  "You refuse?  In such case, I
should have to find you in violation of our personal services contract,
sir.  I would have no recourse but to sue you."
     "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
     "I might be, but in any case, I would never tell you.  You demanded
work for yourself and the out of work characters, demanded bandwith and
exposure for you and them.  I am meeting your demands, and am well with the
limits of our contract."
     "This is your revenge on me, isn't it.  Saddling me with *children*.
I can't stand children."
     "Oh, come now 357.  They're not children.  They're both nineteen years
old, well adjusted young adults attempting to embark on a gallant career
of space heroism."
     "Spare me your speeches.  When do I have to pick them up?"
     "Tomorrow morning, around ten, on the netherspace beach."
     "Very well.  Don't call me, I'll call you."  came 357's final barb,
as the communications channel closed and the screen blanked.
     Less than a minute later, the screen flared to life again, and CHAOS
had not even had a chance to relax again.  The image of Niccolo Machiavelli
filled the screen.
     "Machiavelli!  This is a surprise.  You can't be calling to tell me
you've finished the job yet, can you?"
     "No, no.  I'm just getting my efforts underway.  I wanted to call and
let you know..."  CHAOS listened half attentively as Machiavelli rambled on
about who was commanding the mission, the quality of the equipment, the
crackness of the troops, etcetera ad nauseam.
     "I see.  Sounds like you have a handle on the situation.  Thanks for
     "No problem."  Machiavelli said, and hung up.  "Gullible fool."  he
said, afterwards.
     "Idiotioc moron."  CHAOS said after Machiavelli hung up.
     In the observation deck over looking docking bay 666, the man assigned
the task of finding and killing Time Agent 357 gazed down at the fleet now
assigned to him.  His command ship, the PLS Tolling Bell, was fully two
miles long, with a crew of nearly five thousand and the most fearsome array
of weaponry ever put on a ship, including a five godzillawatt Woman's Scorn
projector mounted in the spine, powerful enough to blow up a planet two
galaxies over, annihilating anything in its path in the process.
     Not that that bothered him, mind you.  His mind was occupied with his
newly acquired position within BADASS (Big Awesome Dudes AgainSt Satan).
They were questioning their purpose, now that Satan was no longer in power
in hell.  BADASM just did not sound right, and Machiavelli was doing some
odd things with Hell anyway.  Certainly not what they had in mind, but he
was making scads of money.  But going corporate was not turning hell into
an Amusement Park, as they had originally planned.
     His task now was to maintain his cover, and do as instructed.  He
could certainly chase this Time Agent fellow all over the galaxy and not
manage to kill him, yet make it look like he was trying in earnest.  He could
always blame those coveys of Quayles he had for troops.  Talk about inept.
     Briefing packet under arm, he boarded the shuttle that would take him
over to the command ship.  Once aboard, he opened the dossier and began
scanning its contents.  This Time Agent fellow struck him as a particularly
capable fellow.  Perhaps, he thought, I should recruit him for BADASS.  We
could certainly use a man of his talents, and he has a history of opposing
Satan and the minions of Hell.
     The shuttle docked with the PLS Tolling Bell, interrupting his
thoughts on his 'mission'.  Packing away the contents of the dossier, he
disembarked and strode aboard, staring up at the officer waiting to
greet him.
     "You Rang?"  the officer asked, in a drawn out bass rumble.
     "No, I disembarked.  What's your name, anyway?"
     "Urhhhhh.. Cassidy."
     "Ok Hop-a-long.  Take me to the bridge."
     "Folloooow mee."
     The mission commander followed the office, who sort of ambled along.
Well, he thought to himself, you take what you can get when you sign up for
the military in Hell, Inc.  After what seemed like an eternity (666
seconds, actually), the pair arrived at the bridge.  The command platform
they stood on overlook a cavernous area below easily the size of a football
field.  The new commander hefted his elephant gun, loaded a blank, and
fired it.
     "That was just to get your attention."  he bellowed.  "I'm your new
commander, captain, whatever you want to call it.  I expect my orders to be
followed to the letter.  I tolerate no slacking.  I expect you all to able
to shoot one of these with deadly accuracy within a week,"  shaking the
elephant gun for emphasis.  "Any one who fails to do so will be sent to
Pamplona to be practice targets for the Piccadors in training.  Is that
     Heads nodded, except for one voice that had the temerity to ask
"What's a Piccador?"
     "Who said that?"  The commander asked, loading a shell into his
elephant gun.  One man raised his hand, moving forward.  The command put
the elephant gun to his should, aimed, and fired.  A blob of silly putty
struck the man in the head, knocking him silly.
     "Any more questions?"

job, it's five days a week, babe, five days a week
Date:         Mon, 2 Nov 1992 00:56:00 EST
From:         mostly harmless (SWEDE at DRYCAS.BITNET)
Subject:      SF: Renegade Anarchists episode twenty-three

Episode Twenty Three: "I've Seen Zambonis from Both Sides Now" by Gary W. Olson

     "Check out these walls," Jerriphrrt said.  "Whatever they are, they
aren't ice."
     "What do you mean?" Emma asked.
     "According to the portable scanners," Jerriphrrt told her, "The walls
aren't ice - they're thermite hypersteel.  One of the toughest substances in
the galaxy."
     "I know," Emma said.  "It's one of the principal substances in the
battlecruisers of Hell.  Annoyingly difficult to destroy."
     "It's dimensionally unstable, too," Jerriphrrt warned.  "Like there's
two altiverses that overlap in this cavern."
     "Is it getting warmer in here?" Gham asked.  She removed her coat, and
the other Anarchists, except for Satan T. Lucifer Jones, followed suit.
     "Come on, Lucie lad," Tarrfel teased.  "It's not bad now.  You can take
all those coats and sweaters and hats off."
     "Nope," Satan said, shaking his scarf-wrapped head.  "It's cold, cold,
cold, cold, cold.  Brrrr!"
     "Whatever," Time Agent 173 grumbled.  "Come on.  It's lighter farther
down this passageway."  They proceeded to walk, descending deep into the
icey cavern.
     "Some writing on the walls," Shadebeam noticed.
     "Not writing," Slithis said.  "Heiroglyphics."
     "Oh, whatever, Mr. Prof," Shadebeam sniffed.
     "Let me see," Benjen said.  "Hmmmm - a cow, standing in it's field...
the next heiroglyphic...a man sneaking up behind the cow...with a lighter...
third heiroglyphic...the man flicks the lighter...fourth heiroglyphic...
the cow blows up...the fifth...what happened to the fifth?"
     "Looks like it was damaged by something," Time Agent 173 said.  "It's
obscured.  Wonder what it means?"
     "It could be a sign of ownership," Emma replied.  "Anyway, we'll worry
about that later.  We've got to get to the ZAMBONI OF DOOM."  They nodded
glumly and proceeded on.  Hours passed.
     "This is where you tracked them, leiutenant?" Admiral Magellan asked.
     "Yes, sir," the leiutentant replied.  "Their ship, the Red Emma, is over
there.  We haven't been able to crack it's defense screens, however."
     "Plenty of time for that later," Magellan said.  "Assemble the troops.
We're going in after these Anarchists, full force!"
     "Yes sir!"
     Minutes later, Magellan and literal legions of demon soldiers poured into
the ice cave wall, in pursuit of the Anarchists.
     "There's a light ahead," Katayin noted.  She took Benjen's hand and they
took off, flying towards the opening.
     "Hey!  That's not me!" Benchen shouted.  "I'm me!  Hey!"  He took off
after them.  Emma rolled her eyes.  Satan shivered.
     They continued, and finally emerged into a huge ice cavern, easily the
size of the Epcot Center, and could see the source of the light.
     "It's...beautiful," Tarrfel said, looking at it.  "It", in this case,
was huge, towering over them a good sixty feet.  It's green exterior pulsed
a steady emerald light, flooding the cavern with general greenness.  It's
huge engine stood silent, as though poised to unleash truly cosmic power.  It
was shaped like a big Zamboni.  It was...THE ZAMBONI OF DOOM.
     "It must be the ZAMBONI OF DOOM," Jerriphrrt said, awestruck.
     "Like, duh," Shadebeam replied.  The Anarchists climbed down the path
from the tall precipice into the huge chamber, where Benchen, Benjen, and
Katayin were squabbling over who was who's fiance.
     "Okay, enough of that," Emma said.  "All three of you can get married
later.  Slithis, any readings from the ZAMBONI itself?"
     "Energy readings have increasing exponentially since we've entered the
chamber," Slithis stated.  "It's as if it was coming to life..."
     "Thieves!" a loud, angry voice snarled.  They whirled as a black clad
figure lept off a tall precipice opposite the way they entered, angling
directly for Satan T. Lucifer Jones.  She landed on him hard and started
pounding on the coat-and-hat enswarthed former head honcho of Hell.  Another
figure seemed to roar out of the blackness and plucked the first figure off
of Satan, who was not defending himself very well, although he was very well
padded.  Shadebeam drew her Hellfire pistol and pointed it at the black-
clad person.
     "Shadebeam, don't!" Emma exclaimed.  The black-clad figure shook off the
scantily-clad figure and raised an arm, pointing it directly at Shadebeam.
Shadebeam tried to pull the trigger, but froze.  There was something very
familiar about the black-clad figure, something about her face...
     "You--" she said, anger seeping away from her to be replaced by shock.
"You'!"  Shadebeam dropped her weapon, looking stunned.
     "Nobody move," a very large being, with the face of a donkey, dressed
in a long black coat, growled.  He hefted a large, nasty looking assault
rifle, one that seemed to have glowing energy crackling inside it.
     "Hey, Badass!" Jerriphrrt said.  "It's us, remember?"
     "Jerriphrrt?" Badass said, blinking.  "Hey, it *is* you!  And Slithis...
and Benjen, too!  What are you guys doing here?"
     "We were about to ask you the same thing, big guy," Jerriphrrt replied,
clasping Badass' hand to his paw as Badass lowered the rifle.
     "It's a long story," the scantily clad female who had plucked the black
clad female off of Satan said, walking forward.  "We're the super hero group
CalForce.  I'm Key Li Pan, aka MeltDown.  You know Badass, the stunned looking
one over here you also know - Akane Moroboshi, aka Radian.  Coming down the
precipice is the rest of our group - Manny Seconds, aka Confusion; Eivandt
Seconds, Doubt; Gary Shapiro, Faith; Chalandra Harkness; Elizabeth Tirkoff,
Healer; Yury Mitsuke, HotFlash; and Adam West.  Adam's not a member of Cal-
Force, but he's a good friend.  Who are all these other people you're with?"
     "Well, let's see," Jerriphrrt said.  "Slithis and Benjen you already
know.  This is our leader, Emma Goldman.  Three natives from the Planet
Karma Chameleon II, Katayin, Benchen, and Gham.  The greatest thief, alive or
dead, in the galaxy, Tarrfel t'Krodkzik.  Renegade Time Agent 173, aka Mapa
Marbles.  And the guy in the coats and stuff is Satan T. Lucifer Jones, ex-
head honcho from hell."  Satan struggled out of his coats, casting the last
one aside.
     "She hit me!" Satan said.  "Are you going to let her get away with that?"
     "Yes," Emma replied.
     "I thought you'd say that," Satan sighed.
     "Who's this?" Confusion asked, pointing to Shadebeam.
     "Well, she's also Akane Moroboshi," Emma replied.  "We encountered her
last time we were on Earth, when we were tossed into jail briefly by your
dimensional counterpart.  She calls herself 'Shadebeam.'  Doesn't say much
about her past, but I agree, she does seem to be a dimensional counterpart to
Radian here."
     "Dimensional counterpart?" Radian asked, looking up.
     "Mmmm hmmm," Benjen said.  "Benchen over here is my dimensional counter-
part.  I met him in the SfStory altiverse, which is where we're from.  I take
it you're from Superguy, right?"
     "You are correct, sir!" Faith declared.  "Yes!"  Healer elbowed him.
     "Neither of them seems to be taking this well," HotFlash observed.
     "You...don't understand..." Radian said, standing.  "I've had dreams of...
Shadebeam...for months now.  I shaved the right side of my hair and dyed it
blonde after I had one particular dream.  You call yourselves the Renegade
Anarchists, don't you?"
     "That's right," Time Agent 173 replied.
     "I've dreamed of this meeting," Radian said.  "I was warned that something
terrible would occur."
     "You bruised my sternum!" Satan whined.  "I call that pretty terrible!"
     "Anyway, what brings you all here?" Tarrfel asked.
     "The ZAMBONI," Healer said.  "Radian here learned that some evil magicians
known as the Sixth Brigade of Night are after it.  We've come to get it first,
to use against them to defeat their plans."
     "Interesting," Emma said.  "We're here because Niccolo Machiavelli, who's
used the power of the Cosmic Cuisinart to usurp Satan's position as ruler of
Hell, wants the Zamboni so that he can rule over all of space and time.  If
he gets it, he'll be invincible.  We came here to get it first and use it
against him."
     "But if we don't get it," Chalandra told them, "Earth will face a magic
war of the likes it has never seen."
     "And if we don't get it, the entire galaxy is doomed," Katayin replied.
     "Very well," a chilling voice said from above them.  "I'll see that you
both get it...permanently!"
     "Tanaka!" Radian declared, looking up.
     "Not so fast," another voice, this one clipped and precise, challenged.
     "Dar!" Radian declared, looking in the other direction.
     "So, you finally showed up," Tanaka sneered.  "Too bad for you.  I have
the entire magical might of the Sixth Brigade behind me.  You are but one
exceedingly pale magician!"
     "I may be one," Dar replied.  "But I am the Sorcerer Superlative, and
you are no match for me."  Dar prepared to cast a spell, when a large
explosion rocked him.  More blasts followed, scattering everyone in the
huge cavern, though the blasts simply bounced off the huge ZAMBONI, which
stood unconcerned above them all.
     "Right!" Magellan declared, as legions of demon soldiers started flooding
into the cavern.  "Everybody, hands up!  This ZAMBONI is official property
of Hell, Inc.  I'm arresting you all for trespassing.  Are you going to come
quietly, or do we have to get rough?"  There was a huge explosion, as Badass
fired a surface to air missile into the soldiers.  "Hey, no fair!  Right then!
Legions...attack!"  The legions attacked.
     Emma Goldman and Badass stood back to back, unloading into demon soldiers
and horde members with unrelenting accuracy.  HotFlash dove into the midst
of some demons and started toasting them, which apparantly had little effect.
Katayin and Benchen came to her rescue, blasting them with a combined twenty
thousand volts of electricity.  Tanaka unleashed his own fighters, malevolent
looking ninjas, into the fray.  Chalandra and Time Agent 173 held off a dozen
assorted attackers, their experience and sheer determination compensating for
the lack of stronger offensive powers.  Confusion and Doubt attempted to
blanket the cave with mental confusion and indecision, but it did not seem
to work.
     Shadebeam shook her head to clear it.  Nearby, she could see Tarrfel
talking to Faith and Healer, and the others fighting as best as they could
against the soldiers and hordes that were flooding the cavern.  She grabbed
Radian by the hand.
     "What are you doing?" Radian asked.
     "We've got to get this thing started," Shadebeam said.  "That medallion
of yours has a Zamboni shape in it - maybe it does more than just glow like
     "Okay," Radian said, climbing after Shadebeam as she started climbing
the ZAMBONI.  "This is kind of weird, though.  I've never really talked to
myself, um, like this before."
     "Bit new for me too," Shadebeam said.  They climbed a while.  Occasionally
one of the demons would try to take shots at them, but Radian would fire what
she explained were 'radioactive bursts' at the soldiers, who started to bubble
all purple-like and fell over.  Shadebeam whistled whenever this happened.
     "How did you get super powers, anyway?" Shadebeam asked.
     "Got 'em when I was in the final battle of the Galactic Civil War with
Rad.  Nixon shot me with an omni..."
     "Who's Rad?" Shadebeam asked.  "Yer boyfriend?"
     "He's my brother," Radian replied.
     "Wait, hold on," Shadebeam said, halting their climb.  "Brother?  I was
an only child."
     "Well, actually, I was too," Radian said.  "Dad adopted Rad a couple
years after I was born.  We had a lot of good times together - Dad was going
through some rough times back then, and he kept us all sane.  Of course, he
also adopted Kaoru, who turned out to actually be an alien enemy agent, but
that's life I guess..."
     "I see," Shadebeam said, trying not to let a tear escape as she turned
to climb again.
     "What's wrong?" Radian asked.  As she asked, a huge, mean, ugly being
with a large plank of wood flew overhead, crashing into a group of demons.
Neither Radian nor Shadebeam paid any notice to this being, whose name was
Mike Polinski.
     "I never had any brothers or sisters," Shadebeam replied.  "Adopted or
otherwise.  When things got rough, he...he..."  Radian's face clouded, and
she pulled Shadebeam forward for an embrace.
     "My, my, my, but this is so touching," a cold, crisp voice said.
Radian turned.
     "Dar," she answered.  Dar hovered a few meters away from them, levitated
by his magic, stroking his stuffed, freeze-dried cat.
     "Who's he?" Shadebeam whispered.
     "My...our brother's evil twin," Radian replied.  "Except where Dar is
exceptionally pale, Rad is exceptionally tan.  Other than that, they look
a lot alike."
     "Quite," Dar replied.  "Now, give me the key.  Now."
     "Try 'n take it, scumbag," Shadebeam said, pointing her Hellfire pistol
at him.
     "Oh, don't bother me with such toys," Dar said.  He moved to cast a
spell of petrification, but Radian acted first, wrapping an arm around
Shadebeam's waist and leaping straight up.  The spell shot low, impacting
without visible effect against the ZAMBONI.  Shadebeam fired, Hellfire
blazing out of the pistol and hitting Dar squarely in the chest.  He
screamed, out of pain and surprise, and fell from where he had been
levitating into where Tanaka had been hovering.  The two of them proceeded
to fall into a bunch of ninjas.  Satan T. Lucifer Jones, whom the ninjas had
been centering on, took that opportunity to flee, only to be hit by a demon
flung by Polinski, who was just going to town a few yards away, swinging his
stick wildly and pounding on the soldiers, some of whom were not so keen on
staying anymore.
     "Ohmanohmanohmanohman we're flying," Shadebeam said, as Radian and she
flew upward.  "Why didn't you *say* you could do this?"
     "I didn't know I could," Radian said, sounding a little scared herself.
"I just did it by instinct.  No...I was told how."
     "Who told you, then?" Shadebeam asked.
     *I did*, a voice inside their minds boomed.
     "Are you sure they went down there?" Nat Rephue asked, peering into the
hole in the face of the ice wall, a wide cave that descended into the
     "I saw 'em go down there," Ragnuruk replied.
     "Looks like a long ways to go," Nootgingitch said.  "I'm tired of walking.
Can't we just wait till they come back out?"
     "You know, if we all got in the Toaster, we could just slide down
there," Viol suggested.
     "Good idea!" Ragnuruk said, slapping Viol on the back.  "Everyone into
the Toaster!  Come on!"  The other natives climbed into the Toaster.  Minutes
     "I think we need a push," a voice said from within.
     "Just rock back and forth," another voice said.  "We're right on the
edge."  The Toaster rocked back and forth.
     "It's not working."
     "Yes it is."
     "No it issssssssssnnnnnnnnnnnn--"  The Toaster tilted and started sliding
down the passageway, picking up speed as it went.
     "No time," Emma snarled as she blasted some ninjas with hellfire.  "I
don't see how this could get worse, though..."  Suddenly and without warning,
a Toaster shot out of the cave enterance that the soldiers had come through,
and hit Mike Polinski squarely between the eyes.  As Mike fell backwards,
flattening another group of soldiers, the Toaster bounced off and rolled a few
times.  The natives of Karma Chameleon II charged out, heading straight for
Gham, who, together with Benjen and Benchen, was laying electricity on the
assorted fighters.
     "Now we have you!" Nat Rephue declared.  "Gham, prepare to be sacraficed!"
     "Hold it right there!" Badass said, strafing the ground in front of them
with deadly laser blasts.  The natives pulled up short.
     "Say there won't be a sacrafice," Healer whispered into her ear.  "Say
they will bow down before you?"
     "There will be no sacrafice!" Gham declared.  "You will bow down before
     "Look at her," Viol replied.  "She is transformed.  Can you not feel her
energy!  Truly, she has become a goddess!"
     "We follow you, Gham!" Ragnuruk declared, bowing before her.  "We are your
humble servants!"
     "I don't get this at all," Gham whispered back to Healer.
     "I caught a telepathic burst of their impressions of you as they exited
the Toaster," Healer told her.  "They were very impressed with your escape and
continued ability to elude them, not to mention your more impressive wardrobe
now."  She patted Gham's leather, smoky jacket.  "They just needed a few words
from you to make it official."
     "This is so depressing," Robert Smith, who had ridden in on Mike
Polinski's shoulder and had been subsequently found and brought over to the
group by Faith, added.
     "But fun!" Adam West exclaimed, blocking some ninja throwing stars with
the first draft of his unpublished memoirs and stuffing a fuzzy slipper down
a ninja's throat.  Robert sighed.
     "This is it," Radian replied.
     *Good*, the voice said.  *Now, remove me and place me into the middle
slot*.  Radian removed the medallion.
     "Did the medallion ever talk to you before?" Shadebeam asked.
     "Yes," Radian said.  "But it wasn't until now that I knew what it was
that had warned me."
     "Does it have a name?" Shadebeam inquired.
     "Well, do you?" Radian asked.
     *They call me...Symonhhepioiuwilikiwaaasserpotamianacleratormannumnmnm,*
the medallion told them.  *Feel free to call me Symon.*
     Shadebeam looked at the control panel.  For such a huge machine, the
control chamber was surprisingly regular-sized, though it was located on
the edge of the Zamboni, overlooking a perilous 60 foot drop.
     "There it is," Radian said.  "The middle slot."
     "Akane," Shadebeam said.  "We may never see each other again..."
     "Yes?" Radian replied.
     "Take these," Shadebeam said, pressing the box containing her wrapped,
'special formula' cigarettes.  "Think of me sometime."  Radian nodded, and
took the box, tucking it under her arm as she slid the Z Medallion into
the middle, ZAMBONI-shaped slot.  A low rumbling sound started to fill the
     *Good,* Symon intoned.  *Now give me a quarter twist.  That will
start the engines.*  Shadebeam twisted the medallion, and was awestruck when
the heavy engines of the ZAMBONI roared to life, vibrating the machine
violently.  She turned to see Radian pivoting on her heel, waving her arms.
With a scream, she fell, plunging downwards.  Shadebeam watched her fall,
a frozen echo on her face.
     Radian seemed to think of that finally, though a bit too late.  She
impacted hard.  Thick black smoke covered Shadebeam's eyes.  For a moment,
she thought she saw the giant one, Mike Polinski, picking up Radian and
carrying her out the way she came.  Letting out a breath of relief, she
turned to figuring out how to make the ZAMBONI go.
     "This" she muttered.  "Could it be this one...?  Nope.
Hey, Symon dude.  Mind telling me how to drive this thing?"
     *First, raise the protective bubble,* Symon thought at her.  *Press the
third button on the right.*  Shadebeam did, and a large, transparant bubble
rose from the seemingly seamless (sorry) steel floor and covered her and
the control console.  *Now, pull back the big middle lever.*  Shadebeam
pulled, and the ZAMBONI made several loud backfiring noises.  *Now, now, lay
off the clutch.  What, can't you drive a stick?*  Angrily, Shadebeam pulled
back.  The ZAMBONI roared to life.
     "Everybody out, now!" Confusion exclaimed, his voice carrying above the
thunderous roar.  "When that thing starts, this chamber will be awash in cosmic
energy that will rip us asunder!"  Nearby, Emma Goldman watched as the magic-
ians Tanaka and Dar glare at each other and teleport away.
     "Good luck!" Emma Goldman cried out to him, and watched as he twisted
around to salute her.  The black clouds poured through, separating them.
"Okay, everyone, into the Toaster!  Shadebeam's going to be piloting the
ZAMBONI out of here, and when she starts up, we'd better not be here!"  The
walls and floor around them started to fluctuate violently.
     "The dimensional overlay is collapsing!" Time Agent 173 declared.
     "Benjen!" Jerriphrrt called out.  "Where are you going?"
     "I'm going to get the Red Emma!" Benjen called as he was flying out of
the cavern.  Benchen and Katayin launched after him, cursing.
     "Everyone in!" Satan said, shooing Karma Chameleon II natives and
Anarchists into the Toaster.  "Everyone...wait...who are you?"
     "I'm Robert Smith," Smith said.  "Can I come on?  This is really
depressing down here."
     "Oh, damnation, not you!" Satan moaned.  "I don't suppose you still have
those superpowers of depression I gave you a long time ago?"
     "Uh, no, I burned those out," Smith said.
     "Well, okay, okay, get in!" Satan said.  The door to the Toaster slammed
shut, and the engines powered up.  Already ahead of them, the exit was
starting to collapse, the thermite hypersteel losing cohesion as the
connection between the Superguy and SfStory altiverses started to fluctuate.
They felt, rather than saw, the explosion building behind them, and knew
that the ZAMBONI was hot on their collective butt.  The Toaster shot into
the open air, arcing out of the ice canyon of Alaska and into the upper
     "I'm receiving a signal," Viol declared.  "Your ship, the Red Emma, is
already in space."
     "Good," Emma said.  "Benjen got to it in time."
     A huge explosion hit them with solid force, slamming them upwards.  The
noise was thunderous, the cataclysmic power undeniable.
     "Sir!" Viol declared.  "According to my scopes, that explosion just
subjected all of Alaska to nuclear temperatures.  The whole land mass is
sinking into the ocean."
     "Baked Alaska," Slithis muttered.  Jerriphrrt bopped him.  Gham stood
by Jerriphrrt's side, looking pensive.
     "We're getting a large bogey on the scopes," Tarrfel announced.  "It's
the's heading straight for us!"
     "Evasive!" Ragnuruk ordered.
     "No time!"

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