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Net slept fitfully, his sleep never a good one whenever he was attached to the healing machines. He didn’t particularly like them, but it sure beat dying of your wounds. In his dreams, he was slithering away from something… some form of evil he’d never encountered... but he couldn’t go fast enough, and it was catching up to him…
A sudden, sharp pain in his tail jarred him from his sleep, and he gaped in openmouthed astonishment at the creature before him. A massive creature over seven feet in length peered at him with three pairs of eyes almost out of curiosity, one savage-bladed leg buried deep within Net’s tail. The creature was a strange mix of colors, almost a random placement of squarish coloration across its entire body. Blood oozed around the leg of the creature from the wound in Net’s tail as the mandibles of the massive spider bent down, saliva dripping onto the bed…
* * *
"What do you mean its in the air system?" War's eyes moved from screen to screen. "I still don't see anything beyond the intrusions from other dimensions. No life forms are reading yet."
Cortland's voice was muffled over the intercom. "Same here, but we found a small plastic spider thing on the floor. Not sure what that has to do with anything, but given the amount of spider webbing around, it doesn't seem accidental that it's here."
War frowned. "That doesn't... hold up." He stopped and stared at one of the screens. "Shit, Net's vitals just flatlined after a massive spike. Get someone to the med room, quick!"
"On our way!" The link cut out as War started running additional scans.
He muttered to himself... "Hmm... plastic... I wonder..." It took a few moments to convince the computer to look past the natural plastics that were used in the base, to pinpoint only foreign or other dimensional plastics not native to the plane...
And suddenly his screen was awash in light as the detection found thousands of moving plastics throughout the air pipes of the base. There was a large concentration around...
"Crap." The hairs on the back of War's neck stood on edge as he slowly turned around. Behind him, six dozen massive spider creatures made out of the small plastics were creeping up on him from all corners of the room.
War grinned and touched a small button on his belt. He raised his hand toward the nearest one just as it reared back to attack... and fired with the plasma gun that materialized in his hand, burning a hole straight through the head of the creature.
The creature rocked backward with the impact, its head vaporized... but with a clack and rattle of plastic, more pieces flowed up from small holes on the floor to replace those that had been destroyed.
"Son of a...!" War raised the plasma gun again and began to fire indescriminately, diving behind the nearest computer rack for cover...
* * *
"Net!" CJ slammed her shoulder into the door, moving it slightly. "Damn it, someone get this door open!"
"Move, CJ." K-Dawg stood about ten feet away with a look of concentration on his face. As CJ moved away, K-Dawk looked up. A thin spark ignited in the air near K-Dawg, moving along the edge of his poleaxe with the gentleness of a lover.
The fire continued to grow until the entire blade of his poleaxe was aflame. With a cry, K-Dawg sprinted at the door, bringing the poleaxe down savagely into the door. The door incinerated almost immediately from the heat of his blade, and Komiyan ducked inside the door the moment K-Dawg was clear.
Melted plastic was everywhere. Every available surface was covered in molded and colorful plastics, fused into a strange imitation of the object underneath it. Net was collapsed in a corner, blood still oozing from a wide, gaping wound in his tail.
"Net!" CJ moved over to Net and bent down, her fingers automatically going to his wrist for a pulse. After a moment, she shook her head. "I forgot, I haven't the foggiest idea where his pulse is. He's breathing, though, so that's a good thing."
"What the hell happened here?" K-Dawg looked around as TLH and Cortland poked their own heads in. "What's going on?"
"Something's attacked Net, obviously, and whatever it was... he destroyed it with a spell. There are scorch marks underneath the plastics... he hit it with a pretty big blast of fire, I think." Komiyan tried to pry some of the plastic off in vain.
Cortland frowned. "I'd better tell War about this." He touched the comm on the wall. "War?" After a long pause, he said again, "Uh, War?" When only static greeted him, he frowned. "I think we need to find War."
"We can't leave Net in this condition." CJ stood up, wiping her hands on her pants. "I'll stay with Net."
"I'll stay, too." TLH motioned to the others. "You all are fast. Go."
* * *
Bob looked around frantically, looking for the best place to leave this hellhole before that maniac with the sword caught up to him again. He touched the bloodstone at his neck and concentrated, letting his thoughts wander back to the dimension that he hated… Sihodael’s dimension.
The air immediately before Bob ripped open, revealing a swirling mass of time and space behind it. A jet black, clawed hand reached forward and snagged Bob’s suit, dragging the man screaming into the portal behind it just as Tdot arrived in the clearing.
Tdot stared at the hole and the hand, the sword hanging limp in his hands. “By the gods…”
A deep voice chuckled, “Gods had nothing to do with it, boy… But you can pray to whatever gods you wish.” The hole opened further, and solid black masses began to pour from it. “Be a good sport and at least make it challenging, will you?”
The masses, once they hit the ground, began to take shape and form into hideous metal monstrosities, and Tdot gasped as he recognized the shape that the robots were forming miniature versions of…
The voice behind the portal chuckled malevolently. “Welcome to your own personal Oblivion, Tdot…” The robots, now fully formed, advanced on Tdot menacingly as the portal closed behind them…
* * *
The door to War’s lab was sealed shut from within, but this door did have a manual override. Cortland overrode the computers and forced the doors open, only to back up quickly as a multicolored blade cut through the air through the door, just missing him.
A slice from Cortland’s blades severed the leg, and the creature beyond the door moved away enough to allow K-Dawg, Cortland and Komiyan entrance into War’s lab… and the warzone that it had become. Everywhere they looked, massive spiders created from the same plastics that they had found earlier prowled around the lab, searching for something.
The one they’d severed the leg from was beating a hasty retreat away from them, drawing attention in their direction. Two of the massive spiders in the far section looked in their direction, and were cut apart by twin beams of flame the came from somewhere near their feet.
A cascade of melting plastic and falling pieces collapsed around War as he emerged from a pile of rubble. His shirt had been torn off, but the man obviously cared little for this detail. A silvery tubing was in each hand, with hoses going back to some form of powerpack behind him.
Flame burped out of the tubing again, melting the plastic further, as he began to cut a path across the lab toward the latecomers. “I’m assuming Net is okay since you’re here,” he said, over the roar of the flamethrower. His lips were slightly upturned at the corners in a maniacal grin that would have made Clint Eastwood cry like a little sissy.
“Not really,” K-Dawg called, as he swung his poleaxe in a series of controlled arcs, back and forth, cutting a path for himself and the others. “I know you’re probably having fun, but we need to wrap this up. Net’s hurt, and you should probably take a…” He jumped backwards as a rainbow-colored talon slashed the spot where he had just been. “…look at him.”
War just nodded, and used the flamethrower to clear a wide area around them, where they had all finally come together in the center of the room. “Cortland,” War said, tossing him a small touch screen device. “Turn the oxygen and hydrogen content as high as it will go in the ventilation system,” As he spoke, he used controlled bursts of melting death to force the remaining creatures back into the nearest vent, “and shut all of the vents except for this one, and any that open into empty rooms we don’t use.”
Cortland looked at the small, paperback novel sized control pad, and linked into the compound’s computer, his fingers moving speedily over the touch screen. “Okay,” he said after a few seconds. “All set.”
“Perfect.” War dropped to one knee, and slammed the nozzle of the flamethrower into the vent. He looked back at the others, grinned the scariest grin any of them had ever seen, and then pulled the trigger.
There came a roar from the vent, and then through the walls as the combustible gasses ignited, turning the passageways the spiders had meant to use for their own purposes into a roaring maze of fiery death. The walls grew hot, and even red-hot in a few thin walled areas, but the strange metal that the whole place was made of refused to succumb to the heat and pressure. The spiders weren’t so lucky, as their colorful plastic bodies melted into solid piles of black waste.
Komiyan just stared at War, who stood up as if nothing had happened, and wiped some soot off the end of the flamethrower’s nozzle with a small piece of what used to be his shirt. After a few seconds, he looked back up at the others, content that the weapon was clean. “So. Shall we go check on Net, then?”
* * *
“Aaaarrrrgghhh….” The pile of Legos collapsed into a heap for a moment before slowly reforming back into the creature called Lego. “Son of a bitch.”
RA raised her eyebrow. The mousy assassin had been reclined in a large chair in Lego’s laboratory, waiting for the man to break his concentration and return his attention to this dimension. “Something wrong?”
“Shit…” Breathing heavily, Lego bent down on one knee, his body features adjusting themselves automatically with a shifting of plastic and crinkles of noise. “Damn, they’re resourceful.”
“They’re Stalkers. If they were easy to kill, we’d be out of a job.” RA pulled one of her long-bladed knives off of the table next to her and balanced it by the tip on her delicate fingers. She looked through her brilliant red hair at Lego as the man slowly pulled himself back to his feet. “Know of any fatalities?”
“Maybe one. That snake thing that gave Grim so much problem in his dimension. Hard to tell, though, because the bastard got off a spell and incinerated my minions in the room.” He shook his head, frowning. “And now the portal to the dimension’s closing fast as their system adapts to the intrusion. We won’t get back in that way.”
“Aw.” RA stood and sauntered over to Lego, her hips swaying seductively. “That’s too bad… I was looking forward to going in there and finishing off any survivors. What about their leader, War?”
Lego pulled one of his hands off entirely and set it down on the table next to him. The hand moved on its own accord over to some nearby paperwork and began to write down notes at a rapid rate of speed. “Survived, don’t think he got very wounded at all. He’s got some sort of weapon generator at his belt, apparently… we’ll need to get the belt off of him if we have any hope of taking him down. The others are resourceful, but I think we have enough hard data to begin working up a contingency plan for every one of them.”
“So then it was a success.” RA’s voice was a purr as she ran a furred hand down Lego’s plastic chest. “How bad did it hurt when all those lovely spiders perished?”
Lego smiled. “Very bad, my dear RA… very bad indeed. Like a knife was plunged deep within what little soul I have and was twisted.”
“Ooh…” RA curled up against Lego, the man automatically picking her up. “Tell me more. What kind of knife?”
“A really painful one. One of those ones with two blades and serrations on all the edges…” Smiling, Lego carried RA out of the laboratory as his hand remained behind, still writing notes…
* * *
“Net. Damn you, wake up.”
The naga wearily opened its eyes, a struggle even after almost three hours on the healing machines. The healing machines were geared to individual Stalkers… since his had been destroyed by his blast of fire, this one had to be adapted for his totally alien body features and it was still struggling.
CJ looked down at Net and smiled. “About time, snake boy. You just about bit it there.”
“Shh.” CJ shook her head. “Don’t worry about it, things have calmed down. They’ve been eliminated.”
“Thank God.” Net sat up groggily, the room still swimming. “What were those things?”
CJ shrugged. “Some sort of plastic automation is the best we can figure. Cortland’s traced where they came from, but the dimension can’t be looked into… there’s some sort of block on it, preventing us from seeing within.”
Net smirked. “Gee… wonder what could be there?”
CJ chuckled. “Yeah, that’s kinda the impression everyone else has, too. Cortland and War are working on some upgraded defenses so this sort of thing can’t happen again, and…”
A crackle over the intercom interrupted her. TLH’s voice echoed in the room as he said, “CJ, is Net awake yet?”
“How’s his condition?”
CJ looked at the machine’s monitor. “He’s showing at 54% and rising.”
“Damn. Ok, then come on up front, CJ. We’ve found another Stalker presence, and given the amount of other dimensional presences within his or her dimension, we’re going to be walking back out into a hotspot again. Net, you’re going to have to stay here, of course.”
Net nodded, though TLH couldn’t see him. “Understandable. You guys be careful, ok? The demon’s not playing anymore.”
“We will be.” The intercom crackled out as CJ stood and smiled at Net.
“We’ll be fine, Net. You just relax and get better.” She paused before she exited out of his room. “Oh, and I meant to ask you. Those spells you cast… is that something inherent to your species, or is that something you can teach?”
Net smirked. “Oh, I can teach it. And I think it’s high time some of you got some magical skills of your own beyond just your weaponry, however effective they might be.”
“Good.” CJ winked at Net and headed out of the door, heading for the control room.
* * *
“Explain something to me Bob...” Lego growled as he leaned over the various weapons Bob had been able to bring back slightly damaged from his last endeavor.
“What?” Bob tried to hide his sneer.
“What exactly is the point of me building and fixing these things for you when you have no idea how to use them?” Lego let the blocks in his face form an unnaturally large grimace at the gangly man.
“They’re not exactly the easiest weapons in the world to use,” Bob tried to justify his blunders.
“You didn’t even use the laser sword,” Lego spat.
“I dropped it...” Bob couldn’t find a good excuse fast enough.
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to find the crystals that power those damn things?” Lego snarled, turning the blocks on his face into an almost lupine form.
Bob nearly tripped over the young dragon woman who seemed to have almost materialized behind him as he stumbled back. She grinned sadistically at him and he shuffled back into a corner.
“If I had my way, I’d have let that Tdot creature finish you off,” Lego tilted his head to one side and the blocks around his neck made a cracking noise.
“Good thing you don’t get your way,” Bob mumbled under his breath.
“What was that?” Lego hissed.
“Nothing,” Bob backpedaled. “When will my things be finished?”
“You plan on actually using them effectively this time?” Lego smirked.
“I’ll have the upper hand next time,” Bob did his best to appear self-assured.
“Last time you walked up behind him sitting on the edge of a cliff...” Lego raised a blocky eyebrow.
“How...” Bob stammered. “You saw?”
“Every last thing, you nitwit,” Lego grumbled.
“It’s not as easy as it looks!” Bob protested.
“Tynan!” Lego boomed and a tiny man with a rather large mop of brown hair rushed in as if he’d been electrocuted.
“Yes, Sir, Lego, Sir!” Tynan exclaimed.
Lego merely turned, one of Bob’s ray guns in his hand and fired it off into Tynan’s torso. Tynan screamed and crumpled, singed and bleeding but not mortally wounded.
“Was that so hard?” Lego sneered.
“He had a sword!” Bob protested, and regretted the outburst almost instantly.
“Tynan, pick up that sword,” Lego pointed to the large bladed weapon on the table near the door.
“But...” Tynan whimpered.
“Now!” Lego snarled.
Tynan, shaking, got to his feet and picked up the weapon.
“Come at me!” Lego ordered.
Tynan summoned all of his courage and hate for his abusive master, let out a scream as he held the sword high and charged. He made it two steps before Lego shot him in the leg, sending him back to the floor.
“And I’m not even trying to kill him,” Lego muttered. “Ra, be a dear and take Tynan to be fixed, I still have use for him.”
Ra whimpered and gave Lego the dragon’s equivalent of puppy eyes.
“You can kill him when I’m done with him,” Lego sighed. “And if Bob screws up again you can kill him too.”
Bob’s eyes widened with terror as Ra grinned at him and effortlessly slung Tynan over her shoulder and took him to have his wounds tended to.
After several long moments Lego looked up at Bob. “Why are you still here?”
Bob quickly shuffled out of the room to receive further orders from Sihodael.
End from Lego…
* * *
It had been a long night for Tdot. The metallic constructs after him, though molded in the image of Oblivion, were definitely NOT of Oblivion quality. He’d already destroyed over two dozen of the damn things just getting away from them.
And that was their first, most obvious and most easily exploited flaw. The things were slow. It was only a matter of staying ahead of them, and he would be fine. Fine, except for the fact that he was quickly running out of places to run… and hiding was apparently impossible, because the creatures honed right in on him whenever he stopped for a few minutes.
Eventually he would have to sleep. And when he did, the creatures would inevitably find him and kill him while he slumbered. He stumbled a bit when a sudden flash of light blinded him for a moment…
And he found himself staring at the strangest group of creatures he’d ever seen. A human, a large monkey with a huge polearm, a turtle with a latern, and the darkest elf he’d ever seen. He gaped in openmouthed astonishment for a moment before warily holding his sword before him. “Let me guess. Come with you, or fight you, or die, right?”
The turtle creature raised an eyebrow. “Hardly. We have no fight with you.”
“Well then… what?”
The monkey strode forward, ignoring Tdot as he growled at something rustling in the bushes. “Get a clue, sword boy. We ain’t here to hurt you, and whatever’s chasing you is.” The poleaxe was swung, making Tdot duck… and the resultant clang and sounds of electricity sparking out of a destroyed robot gave him his answer.
He looked over at the dark elf. “You’re not here to kill me?”
Komiyan shook his head. “No.”
“Can you get me out of here and away from these things chasing me?”
“Alright.” Tdot looked at the monkey beside him. “Let’s go then.”
CJ smiled, the crystal on her neck flashing. “Can do.”
* * *
Tdot looked in the cage calmly, meeting the lion's gaze with an even stare of his own. Around him, the automated devices of the man known as War cleaned up the debris from what appeared to have been a rather large skirmish. However, Tdot hadn't had much to say to the man as of yet... really, he hadn't said much to any of them.
After getting attacked by that strange man and then those creatures, he wasn't really sure who he could trust anymore... though animals could always be trusted. One thing that would remain universal, he mused, would be the behavior of animals across the dimensions.
It still blew his mind about everything that was supposedly going on, but he didn't want to think about that right now.
The tail of the lion flickered once, the only movement that the animal had done since Tdot had sat down before him. Tdot smiled. "You don't want to be in that cage, do you?"
The lion didn't respond, which didn't surprise Tdot. He continued, "You know, I have to wonder why they've got you locked up. Why are you even here? I haven't seen any other animals around here that weren't walking and talking. So you've got to be special."
A low rumble indicated that the lion was hungry, but again he made no other sign that he was even listening to Tdot.