The directors of Roadkills-R-Us were having their usual annual meeting, in a secret cave somewhere on Maui, well after midnight. As usual.
The five went urgently about their business, their fingers flying over the keys, CRTs glowing softly, as each worked furiously to produce a result that would prove to the others that they, and they alone, were qualified to haul RRU bleating and whining into the future.
A visitor would have wondered at the sparseness of the room. Heat and light were provided by cracks in the walls, which let in not only the fiery red incandescence, but even, on occasion, small flows of lava. These were basically ignored. When they came too close to the directors, however, a gaggle of cave newts would attack the offending flow, and wrestle it onto a never-ending supply of lamps, which they sold to the tourists at a tidy profit.
As the night waned, the directors seemed to come more and more alive. miles was consuming vast quantities of boiling chocolate syrup with burnt castor bean oil, and alternately humming Stryper and BOC tunes. Spass was dancing as he worked, and was nearly covered with leis that fell from apparently empty space above him. Stevelee hung by his suspenders from the cave roof, and worked with his feet, flailing at his Strat in time to whatever miles was humming at the moment.
Suddenly Stevelee nearly dropped his guitar.
"Hey! The other two!"
miles and Spass, hardly looking up, noted that gypsy and meesh were missing. With a ferocious growl, Spass jumped straight up in the air and put both feet through the glass of the CRT.
<crash> BZZZZT! <tinkle tinkle>
"I HATE it when it does that!"
"Hey, chill out, dude. What happened?"
"A random quark. A green one. The saucer controls froze for a moment, the autopilot froke, and I slammed into a comet."
"Ha. That's nothing! I rebuilt the autopilot, made it intelligent, and it eloped with the copilot. I've been stranded on Demos for a half hour! Guess miles wins another year at the helm. Oh, well."
"Oh, well, my newt! That means *I* have to answer the stupid DEA allegations before Congress!"
"I forgot all about that. What was your score, anyway?"
"I got trashed by a black hole popping into existence in my cabin right after you screamed."
"Bummer. But what was your SCORE?"
"How should I know? He pointed at where the arcade game had been until a moment ago. Now there was just a faint point of light hanging in midair."
"Oops. A real one. Pesky, those things."
Stevelee whistled. A couple of the larger newts, wearing white uniforms, sauntered in with a magnetic klein bottle and disposed of the hole.
"So, like where did the others go?"
"I dunno. They didn't do an NMI,and the others were all masked."
"Too bad. Well, now that business is over, maybe we can have some fun. Spass, this is your turf; what's to do?"
Before Spass could answer, the lights went out. The room almost immediately began to cool. In seconds, each of the remaining directors was shivering.
"Uh oh. I think we have a problem, guys..."
Silence pressed in on each one. Nobody could move, and their thoughts seemed sluggish. Stevelee willed tokens down his bus, but someone else had it locked. Spass began to glow with a faint island light. miles simply thought, as furiously as his rapidly gelatinizing brain would allow. Soon, the room was quiet but for the scurrying of the cave newts, who carried their own warmth deep in their bodies.
As Bob and mr. x approached the x industries PacBase, mr. x began to fidget.
"Yeah, I feel it, too. Something's wrong."
"Hmmm. Carasso's still falafelled in the box, according to the computer. What else could it..."
Both of them saw it at the same time. A wall of noise, so intense as to be visible, surrounded their destination. A most depressing gray, it was shot through with streaks of malevolent-looking red, which writhed furiously like rabid cobras straining to be free.
"Targeting east central power node. All systems charged. Full power on 1 and 2."
"Locked on. Just a few more seconds, so we get full effect."
At their current speed, they covered 100 kilometers in those few seconds. As certain console lights winked from yellow to green, the plane flipped upside down and threw itself into a tight vertical turn. As its belly faced the wall, two thin streams of evil-looking violet suddenly connected the plane with the wall.
The wall began to shrink. The writhing of the red streaks tripled in speed, and a huge cloud of green fog appeared where the violet energy met the wall. With a tremendous explosion, the wall disappeared.
The plane tumbled end over end for a few heartbeats. Finally BoB wrested control back, and they headed back towards PacBase.
The formerly unsullied blue of the sky in front of them was full of green, slimy-looking gas. Fortunately, the wind was dissipating it away from the island.
"Better notify that fleet we saw. Probably take the paint right off the ships. Nevermind the linings in their lungs and eyeballs."
"Any ideas about that cloud?"
"Yeah, but I'd rather not say just yet." mr. x looked distinctly perturbed.
A moment later, they touched down. BoB coasted to a stop over near a large boulder on the beach. He stared at the boulder, and after a few seconds the plane began to sink into the sand.
Moments later, far below the surface, the two left the plane in the hands of the capable newt technicians, and headed towards the main doors. Inside, they stopped for a moment. All over the walls, red lights glared at them, needles were pegged, and CRTs blinked furiously, all clammoring for immediate attention.
"x! The pyramid!"
"What about the pyramid? Is it more important than the fact that this whole complex has been compromised, and is currently so hot that anyone normal would be dead of radiation poisoning inside of five minutes?"
BoB stared quietly at x, but only for a few seconds.
"You tell me. The pyramid's been evacuated. All the monitors refuse to answer the radio queries. All of them have disappeared completely. And DoD wants us at Cheyenne two hours ago, or we're to be shot on sight. President's orders, but it doesn't say what they think we're responsible for."
mr. x went made no response, and both worked furiously for a few moments.
"There. Radiation's down, air's better, and the temp is back up in the main conference room. Wonder what that was abo..."
They stared at each other. BoB actually looked worried.
The RRU board meeting!
They hit the elevator together, and rode up in silent fury, each lost in thought. As the doors began to open, they jumped out together, bending the doors in the process.
"Heh. Have to fix those doors before we use that again."
They stopped in silent wonder as they enetered the main conference room. Only four Vectrex consoles against the wall. Spass, miles and Stevelee were slumped on the floor, blue, the marks of a scuffle between the everpresent newts and some ice worms scattered about at random.
Neither mr. x nor BoB now had any doubts as to what they had faced outside.
Stevelee was the worst. Horrible red, gaping pucker wounds covered his body, which had been stripped. From head to toes, he looked like ground chuck. The Cray interface cable had been ripped from his head, and lay several feet away. mr. x and BoB each dropped to the floor beside Stevelee and began checking for life signs.
"Well, he said he lived to be ravished by her kisses. Now if he only lives THROUGH it..."
"The fool. He had no idea what he was saying. But he lives! Check miles - I'll check Spass."
They all lived. Barely.
"Heart rate 5. Alpha waves nearly undetectable. Breathing shallow at 2 per minute... wait... this thing is, no, it's calibrated correctly. But..."
"No white cells. miles has no white cells in his blood. None. Zip. Can you stop their breathing until we get them into the isolators?"
"No problem. But better than that, spass has no RED cells..."
BoB looked meaningfully at nothing in particular. Steam rose from the back of his neck.
"This means war."
Go to next chapter.
Last updated: 29 Jun 1994
Copyright 1989, 1994 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.
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This copyright may be freely used, distributed and modified subject to the conditions noted above in the preceeding paragraph. Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514